Summary: In the midst of withering in this life God gives us permanence in the Word made flesh.
December 4, 2011 Isaiah 40:6-8
A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All men are like grass, and all their loveliness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”
“What shall I cry?” God didn’t tell him to say, “Tell the people how to meet their full potential. Tell them how they can do whatever they set their minds to. Tell them they are created in the image of God! They’ll love that. They’ll eat that up!” God said, “Here’s what I want you to cry – ‘All men are like grass, withering grass.”
Isaiah was sent to an arrogant people; people that thought God was on their side; that they could never fall. You see, God had sent the Assyrians to wipe out the northern Kingdom, and the Southern Kingdom was about to be wiped out too. Instead, King Hezekiah prayed to the Lord and He gave them a mighty deliverance as 185,000 men were put to death overnight in their sleep. You would think the people would repent at such a close brush with death. Instead, they thought they were invincible. They thought God would never abandon them no matter what they did.
We live in a similar age of arrogance; especially when it comes to science and medicine. Some think that with the ability to read DNA that we will be able to predict and prevent almost all diseases and sicknesses. They are arrogantly wrong. There’s another kind of more subtle arrogance out there; the arrogance of self sufficiency. It is constantly reflected in people who stubbornly try to live life and get by in life while ignoring God and neither listening nor praying to Him; they live as if there were no final Judgment. We also have such evil tendencies. Isaiah’s message to us today is “All men are grass.” God told him to “cry it out.” Don’t keep it to yourself. Don’t be shy about it. Don’t just whisper it. Tell it to yourself. Then let everyone know.
“All Men Are Like Grass.” Cry it Out!
I. It is a hot and withering wind to blow
It can be a very devastating thing when you are confronted with the brevity of life. Sometimes young kids can come down with deadly diseases at an early age. Their classmates and friends die in car crashes, and they are shocked. Nobody ever thought it would happen to them. Just recently one of Hannah’s classmates was having her tonsils removed and something went wrong. The child had to go into ICU and almost died. That’s what happened to Hezekiah right prior to our text. He was told by prophesy that a sickness he had was going to end in death. He said,
“In the prime of my life must I go through the gates of death and be robbed of the rest of my years?” I said, “I will not again see the LORD, the LORD, in the land of the living; no longer will I look on mankind, or be with those who now dwell in this world. Like a shepherd’s tent my house has been pulled down and taken from me. Like a weaver I have rolled up my life, and he has cut me off from the loom; day and night you made an end of me. I waited patiently till dawn, but like a lion he broke all my bones; day and night you made an end of me. I cried like a swift or thrush, I moaned like a mourning dove. My eyes grew weak as I looked to the heavens. I am troubled; O Lord, come to my aid!”
He was too young to die. He was in the prime of his life. He was doing good things for God. He wasn’t ready for death. He had more to do. That is the problem with life. It’s hard to feel like you’ve ever accomplished all you wanted to accomplish. You don’t want to think about death. You only want to think about what you need to do today. Maybe you’ll live to be 70 or 80; but maybe you won’t. God is crying to you today. He is saying to you, “You are but grass.” We’d rather be compared to an oak tree; like the patriarchs of Genesis; men who lived to be in their 400’s and 500’s and were in good health for a majority of it. But instead God cries, “You are grass!” Grass is such a weak substance. We’ve been trying to get Kentucky bluegrass to grow here at church for a while now; but it just doesn’t want to grow. Every time we get a good stand it seems to either get smothered by Bermuda grass or die out in the heat of our Kansas summers. It doesn’t take long for grass to wither; only a day or two or three of hot wind will knock it down quickly. The heat and the sun make it almost impossible to keep alive. This is the nature of living in this world with sin and death, and it is sad, so very sad. Athletes can get in to get ready and compete in a competition. They can do amazing things with their bodies. But even the greatest of athletes don’t last long. They tear ligaments and break bones; and these injuries slow them down and make them less powerful and strong than they used to be. Then all we have are videos of what used to be. Even they are grass. Their loveliness is like the flower of the field.