“The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass (Isaiah 40:7).”
There was a popular book a number of years ago that carried the title, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” In a summary of the book, the first point made was: “Begin with praise and honest appreciation.” With due deference to the Almighty, God must not have read that book.
When humans check to see what their Creator has written about them, they find no praise and little appreciation. The rules of etiquette and salesmanship seem to have been thrown out the window before the first words of Genesis were uttered. By the end of Revelation, they had not returned.
It seems to some that the Bible was written to insult the human race. Even its accounts of the heroes of faith carry the stains of shame and failings. The poet captures the message that humans want to broadcast when he writes of a stone statute bearing these words on its pedestal: “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works ye Mighty, and despair!” But the statue of mighty Ozymandias is broken, half-buried in the lone and level sands. The boast of human might rings hollow. “Surely the people are grass.”
Honest observation will show us how fleeting and frail is our power and glory. But only the Bible explains why that happens. “The grass withers and the flowers fall because the breath of the Lord blows on them.” We would compare ourselves to stone and steel. The strongest and brightest among us can do things most of us cannot. We, naturally, look to them for hope and help. The statement has recently been made by one of our leaders, “I believe in science.” Science is a good thing. But it is no more than the accumulation of human thought. Even at its best, it is as fleeting and frail as the people who come up with the thought. “Surely the people are grass.” “The grass withers and the flowers fall because the breath of the Lord blows on them.”
The Lord God does not need fear the displeasure of humans. They live for such a short time. The most impressive of them shrivel up and fade. They have no choice. They have no chance. The One who breathed into Adam the breath of life blows out the flame of life just as easily. We need to face who we are and what we are: “Surely the people are grass.” The truth needs to be pounded into us. But we need to not only hear the truth, but the whole truth. So, we are told again, “The grass withers and the flowers fall…” We have heard that before. Now we need to hear the rest: “but the word of our God stands forever.”
Like it or not, the Bible will stand forever. That’s good news because the Bible brings good news. In it, we are told, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” And why should we be comforted? “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her…that her sin has been paid for” (Isaiah 40:1,2).
What does that mean for me? The psalmist shouts out my answer: “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done” (Psalm 118:17).
This blade of grass will live forever. I have God’s forever word on it.
So, do you.
We pray: God of our fathers, our ready help in time of need, our only source of strength and hope. Accept our humble thanks. To you be all the glory, now and forevermore. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer
WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military