We are reminded in this 1 Peter passage today that we have been “born again….through the living and enduring word of God. For
“All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers
of the field;
the grass withers and flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord stands
I am focussing on these verses today, they are quoted from Isaiah chapter 40. In it’s context there is “The voice of one saying, “Cry!’ One said, “What shall I cry?” (Isaiah 40:6). Neither the speaker nor the person addressed is identified. But before the prophet or preacher can proclaim the word of God faithfully, the Lord must reveal the word to him or her.
Then comes the message….”All men(flesh) are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field”.
In a pastoral economy where people herd sheep, grass is valuable. The sheep have to eat, and grass is what they eat. A shepherd who cannot find grass for his sheep is doomed to lose his flock and his livelihood. Shepherds develop an eye for good grass. In that dry climate, grass would quickly become parched and brown – poor food for sheep. A shepherd would look for green grass – or at least , grass with a hint of green.
Like grass, flowers are fragile. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus speaks of this fragility: “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today exists, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, won’t he much more clothe you, you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30).
But, “…the grass withers and the flowers fall”.
In Isaiah (and not in 1 Peter) we see the reason for this…”because the breath of the Lord blows on them” (v.7). Shepherds would be very familiar with the winds that dry and suck all the moisture from plants, and the hot temperatures that then bake them.
The metaphor is then made very plain. The grass and flowers will fade in the winds and that reminds us of our own impermanency – our own fragility. Just as the grass and flowers prosper for a while and then wither and die so did the people of Israel. They prospered when living faithful lives devoted to Yahweh, but they ran into trouble time and time again because of the inconstancy of their faith.
Isn’t this also true for us as individuals?
We are then reminded (in v.25)…”the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stand forever”.
Isn’t that a great reminder to us? Like grass and flowers, humans wither and fade, but the word of God will stand forever. The word of God is the constant on which we can depend day in and day out. God gave his word to Abram and David and others in the form of a covenant in spite of their sin.
This is a hopeful word for us. We too, fail God, but God will not fail us.
These verses are included in the Anglican Prayer book Funeral Service. I have pronounced these words to grieving congregations for over 30 years, probably over 300 times. What a great reminder it has been for me personally, that this body that I have will not last – it is not made to last, but that there is a reality that stands forever – our great God and Heavenly Father.
We are encouraged too, by the very tender language of Ezekiel 34 where we have the lovely images of the Shepherds and the Sheep. God will make with his people a “covenant of peace” (v.25); “I will bless them” (v.26); ” I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing” (v.26); “You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign LORD.”
God’s people, living under the blessing of God.
God bless you and have a great day,