Woe unto him that strives with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashions it, What do you make? or of your work, He has no hands?
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Cyril of Alexandria
This is a deep saying, veiled in much obscurity, yet at the same time very useful and true. I think I ought to make a brief preliminary exposition of what it is driving at. In this way my readers will find it more accessible and easier to understand. Thus the God of all things freed Israel from Egypt, rescued them from the error of polytheism and brought them by the law of Moses from the chicanery of the demons to the dawn of the true knowledge of God. He taught them to worship a single God and bow down before a single Lord. Then by means of types and shadows he wanted to raise them up to what was still better and more perfect, that is, to the things that are in Christ. For the law was a preliminary instructor and was laid down until the time of setting aright. This came with the advent of our Savior Jesus Christ, when he set aside the shadow of the commandments of the law and the types found in the letter and introduced to those on earth the beauty of worship in spirit and in truth openly and without disguise.
But the Jews found this hard to bear, and as they were still complying with the types, they took action against Christ and accused him of breaking the Mosaic commandments. … Therefore, since they found the benefit resulting from the preaching of the gospel unacceptable, although it was advancing them from the unprofitable shadow to spiritual fruitfulness, the prophet says to them, “Will the plowman plow the earth all day?” “O foolish people,” he is saying, “a cultivator turns over the soil with the plow, but he does not go on doing it forever, nor is the whole business of cultivation taken up with plowing. For he turns over the soil not simply for the sake of doing so but in order that it might be made ready to receive the seed when he sows it and prove to be productive. Therefore I gave the hearts of all of you, which were once overgrown like wastelands, a preliminary working over, using the law of Moses as a plow, and, turning them over like a farmer, I made them suitable for sowing with good seed. Therefore accept what he offers and do not remain permanently attached to your beloved plow, which is the law.” For he plowed, as I have said, not so that you should hold fast to plowing (for what would be the use of that?) but so that you should produce the fruits of truth. Since we have been spiritually refashioned in Christ, that is to say, we have been transformed, some of us from pagan error into the knowledge of the truth, and to a holy life through Christ the Savior of us all, others from Judaism into the acquisition of evangelical teachings and into a newness of worship that no longer cleaves to the dreariness of the types but instead is resplendent with the striking beauty of spiritual worship, both we and they have been enriched with rebirth in Christ through water and the Spirit.