The book of Isaiah is a very informative book in the Bible. It is highly esteemed by the Jews, considered second in importance only to the five books of Moses. It is a book with much encouragement but also many prophecies of punishment for the nations that do not know and obey God. Chapter 40 starts out in verse 1 very positively with “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Verse 5 informs us that “The Glory of the LORD shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” This is all very promising and positive. In fact, this will become true when the meaning of the Feast of Trumpets is fulfilled and Christ returns in His full glory.
But a very different theme is introduced in verses 6 to 8: “The voice said, ‘Cry out!’ And he said, ‘What shall I cry?’ ‘All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the Word of our God stands forever.’” Peter quotes this important passage in 1 Peter 1:24-25.
Obviously God is comparing Himself, His Eternity and Power, with us. We are mortal and subject to death, and as other passages state, we are as nothing in His sight. One of them in which David acknowledges this is Psalm 39:4-5: “LORD, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am. Indeed, you have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor.” Even David, a man after God’s own heart, realized that, as a man, he was nothing. He was, like grass, subject to death.
Another king, the most powerful man on the earth in his day, was Nebuchadnezzar. In Jeremiah 27:6 God calls him “My servant.” And in Daniel 2:37, he is called “A king of kings.” Regarding the statue in verse 38, he was the head of gold. Obviously he was a very important person to whom God had given “A kingdom, power, strength, and glory” (verse 37). But subsequently, while he was walking about the royal palace in Babylon, boasting of what he had built, God caused him to become like an animal and he ate grass for seven times or years. After his understanding was restored, he admitted in Daniel 4:34-35: “…. For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reported as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’”
So Nebuchadnezzar also admitted that even with all his king’s glory and power, and even though God claimed he was His servant, he was among those reported as nothing. So, if we compare ourselves with God, we are also as nothing.
There is a part of Isaiah 40:6 that the full meaning of may not be obvious at first sight. Part of the quote is: “…‘its loveliness is like the flower of the field.’” The Hebrew for loveliness can also be translated “goodliness” (KJV), or even kindliness, or good deeds. It is more than just the appearance of the flower. It indicates that all of the good we have done, and all the mercy and favour we have shown in our lives also fades and is soon forgotten by those around us.
So, what is our hope since, as humans, we are destined to fade to nothing? David tells us in a very well-known Psalm.
Psalm 23 only has six verses, but in them we can see David’s attitude and expectations. It is a very useful example for us. In these six verses, David mentions the “LORD” or pronouns representing the “LORD” twelve times. He begins by admitting that the “LORD” provided all his needs, his physical and emotional needs. The “LORD” enabled him to learn righteousness. And even when he was in great danger and fear of death, the “LORD” was with him and comforted him. David was provided with great abundance. He basically attributed all that he had to God.
However, verse 6 in this Psalm is of utmost importance, both for David, and for us. As humans, we are mortal, and even in our best state are counted as nothing in comparison with God. But as David mentions here, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the House of the LORD forever.” In the International Standard Version, this last part is rendered, “And I will remain in the Lord’s Temple forever.” This reminds us of the promise we also have in Revelation 3:12: “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the Temple of My God, and he shall go out no more…”
So, these verses in Isaiah 40 are to remind us that as humans, we can expect to grow old, lose strength and fade away, and with our own human strength, we can do little. But, by looking to God for all our needs and desires, and obeying Him, there are great rewards promised for us. There are a number of Scriptures that promise that David will be king or prince over Israel and Judah. One of them is Jeremiah 30:9. Speaking of the combined tribes, we read: “But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, Whom I will raise up for them.” There are also similar promises for us such as in Revelation 1:5-6: “… To Him [Jesus Christ] Who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own Blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
So, as the end of this present evil age draws near, it is well worth remembering that of ourselves, we can do very little. However, it is also wise to consider Psalm 23, remembering that God is fully able to comfort us, provide for us, and protect us when necessary. We should also look to the future where we will be able to dwell in the Temple of God forever. We will be Spirit-born immortal members of the God Family forever. We will no longer be grass, but will have the authority as kings and priests to help bring real peace to this sick world.