Summary: This sermon examines the words of Isaiah - who was told to cry "all men are like grass"! What is the purpose of this cry? What does it point us to? Read and find out.
December 4, 2005 Isaiah 40:6-8
A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All men are like grass, and all their glory 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.”
The Town Crier and the boy who cried wolf, the cry baby and for crying out loud. Crying is not usually a sound we like to hear - by babies or adults or sirens. Hell is going to have an eternity of people crying out - weeping and gnashing of teeth. It signals sorrow or trouble. So when a voice tells the prophet Isaiah to “cry out,” it isn’t a good sign for those who hear his cries. John the Baptist, Jeremiah, Isaiah - were all what we would probably equate with the olden day “town criers” - people who stood at the post in the tower and warned of trouble to come. Advent is the time of the Lord’s Criers to raise the banners- warning of something coming. Like a faithful prophet, Isaiah asked a simple question - “what shall I cry?” Today we are going to listen to -
The Cry of the Crier
I. The cry of withering grass
God’s answer is both somber and strong. His cry is something that makes the hair on the back of our necks stand up and hearts take notice. “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. ” He wanted the prophet to tell men they were like grass. Out of all the things in nature that God decided to compare us to, He chose grass and flowers. It would have been a little more majestic if he had at least chosen a big majestic oak tree that lasts for hundreds of years or a lion that rules over the animal kingdom. Instead, he chose grass.
God purposely chose grass because of it’s weakness and it’s temporary nature. The grass withers and the flowers fall.” Several years ago we placed a little child’s swimming pool and placed it in our back yard. Within one week the grass underneath it withered and died and has not grown back to this day. It is the nature of grass and flowers to be weak and die. If you look in your front yard you’ll probably notice several wilted flowers - geraniums and other varieties - that were just beautiful a few months ago - having been frozen out by the first frost of the season. This is a theme that is actually repeated throughout the Old Testament and the New.
Job 14:2 He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure.
Psalm 37:2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.
Psalm 90:5-6 You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning— though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered.
Psalm 103:15-16 As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
This is the way life is for us - it is encompassed in death and surrounded by death. Life can be very temporary at times. Tristan had a classmate who felt some pain behind her eye about a year and a half ago. When they looked into what it was, they discovered a tumor in her brain. She died at the beginning of the school year. She was only seven or eight years old. King David and Bathsheba had a baby boy together. He didn’t even live to see the age of two. King Josiah was one of the most righteous kings that Judah had, yet he died in the prime of his life in a battle with Egypt. (2 Chronicles 35) Look in the newspaper and you’ll see time and again people dying in their 40’s and 50’s - well before we think they should. But what is a good time to die? Is there ever a good time? Moses writes that the length of our years is 70 or 80 if we have the strength.
We might say someone who dies at age 70 or 80 of a stroke or a heart attack as dying of a “natural” death. Yet if you think about it, how natural does it feel to have your heart suddenly stop beating, to feel an intense pain in your chest prior to falling on your knees and gasping for breath? Methuselah lived to be 969 years old, and we die at 70 or 80? The truth of the matter is that death is not natural. God didn’t make man to die. He made man to live forever. Yet now, we grow for a short time and then go away like the morning dew.