[Jan 30]--Cut Grass And Flowers

Isaiah 40:6-9

            Keep in mind the whole point of this passage: Comfort my people. That’s the main purpose of chapter 40, to comfort God’s people. They were expected to read this chapter about 85 years later when Babylon invaded their country, besieged Jerusalem, killed much of the inhabitants, and carried them all as captives to another nation. This is meant to comfort them.

            So what’s the point of today’s passage? What’s the Holy Spirit (through his “mouth”) trying to tell them and us?

            He makes a huge contrast in front of them. On one hand there are men. There are good men like Isaiah or King David or King Hezekiah or George Washington. There are very powerful and evil men, like Stalin or Hitler or—in Isaiah’s day—Sennacherib, or—in Jeremiah’s day—Nebuchadnezzar. The bad men command armies and thousands of men to their death, often just for their own personal glory or ambition or whims. They erect statues of themselves, so that the people can gaze up to their glorious leader in awe.

            And what are these men, both good and bad? What do they all have in common? In a word—transience. They’re compared to flowers and grass, and I understand full well the comparison. I’ve bought flowers for my wife, and I try to pick out good ones. The best ones I pick out for her smell nice and are really pretty. But within a few days, the prophet’s description runs true: They wither and die. Some take longer than others, and some are prettier and prettier-smelling than others. But they all eventually give in to the inevitable.

            The grass which I have to mow and mow and mow and mow during the summertime will die out in the winter. The green grass turns brown.

            Why did God compare men to flowers and grass? I mean, I live longer than they do, right? Not on God’s timetable, you don’t. By his reckoning, mankind has been here just for a little while. You’re here today and gone tomorrow. You’re going to live, what? Eighty years? Ninety? A hundred? What is that in the grand scheme of things? No wonder James compared us to a “mist” that’s here momentarily and then vanishes.

            Hitler. Stalin. Nebuchadnezzar. Napoleon. Hannibal. Caesar. All of them, at one time, had the lives of countless men under their command. Each one of them thought they were a god among men. And then the “breath” of God blew on them. Not his fist. Not the full extent of his anger. Pick up a dandelion and blow on it. That’s what God did to these fools.

            But what does last? Well, the Lord of course. The angels don’t age or die. Souls of men go on to their eternal destiny. But there’s something else, something very practical for us, especially if we’re experiencing hard times.

            Ah yes, God’s word. Skeptics have tried to pick it apart. Mockers laugh at it and make fun of it on the comedy circuit. So-called “scholars” dismiss it. Tyrants ban it and burn it. Christians--who should know better--ignore it. And they’ve all been doing that for thousands of years. Fools who call themselves wise men hold it on an anvil and hit it as hard as they can with their hammers, only to find that the hammers have broken first. And God’s word is still here.

            Why were these words of comfort to their first hearers in exile? Because the ones who were persecuting them would end up like those flowers. They wouldn’t last. But God’s word—including his great and precious promises—would last forever.

            I think I see two big applications staring us in the face.

1)      Do you see just how short a time you have? If you haven’t received Christ, then the only day you can do that is today. If you know someone who needs to hear the Good News of Jesus, then the only day you can do that is today. If there’s an area of disobedience that you’d like to deal with in this life before you have to deal with it at the Throne of Christ, then that the only day you can do that is today.

2)      Do you value God’s word? I’m sure you haven’t burned it. You might even give lip service to some belief about its authority. But do you ignore it? I assure you, it doesn’t ignore you.

Lord Jesus, almost everything I pour my life into—sports, TV, work, and a host of other things—are here today and gone tomorrow. I beg you, please give me the eternal perspective. Help me to pour my life into what really matters.

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