The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
These verses are familiar to many of us. As we here them, we are reminded of the permanency of the Word of God. In a day when our culture has dismissed the Bible as ancient mythology, we have all the more a need to be reminded of the absolute nature of God’s Word. This was the case in Hezekiah’s time as well. His kingdom was being threatened by the Assyrians who successfully defeated the Northern Kingdom, Israel, and all of the kingdoms along the trade route from Assyria to Judah in the fertile crescent. The commander of the Assyrian army, upon laying Jerusalem under siege, threatened them and spoke of the foolishness to listen to Hezekiah tell the people to trust in their God. He points out how all of the other kingdoms too trusted in their gods and look what good that did for them – none! In other words, there was plenty of earthly, immediate reasons to doubt. Their situation reminds me much of today, as the scientific community has dismissed religion as merely a cultural thing, something for the anthropologist to study, but not something for discovery or understanding the future. The “gods” of the world have been declared dead or at least impotent in the real world. We too have many pressures not to believe God’s Word. Culture tells us that it will not help us get ahead in life. We need to hear these words from Isaiah. The men that seem so powerful and thus correct in their negative assessment of God are like the grass that withers, while the Word of God will stand.
But what word is it that we need to know will stand? For Hezekiah, he needed a Word from God that reassured him of God’s deliverance from the present danger of Assyria. These are the words that he received,
Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”
Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:7-11 ESV)
He received the gospel! The herald is to announce the coming of the Lord! This is what we proclaim too as heralds of the gospel. The Lord has come and has conquered death and set us free from our bondage to sin. So many still need to hear this message. And though many will not believe as they are swayed by the culture, as heralds we must not remain silent. It is still their only hope.