The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.
The passage is not about grass.
We need to take a step back to capture the real comparison in these verses. Isaiah tells us in verse 6, “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.”
Flesh is a metonymy for humans. All people, creatures, you and me — we’re like grass. That’s the point. More specifically, we’re like grass in how fragile we are compared to the Lord. The very breath of God against us makes us to wither and fade. Isaiah doesn’t want us to miss this: “surely the people are grass.”
With his point established, Isaiah gives us verse 8:
the grass [that’s you and me] withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.
So the contrast is not between grass and the word of our God. It’s between us and the word of our God. We wither and fade. We are but little sprigs of turf compared to the word of our God.
The Whole Gospel Here
But this passage is for our comfort, not our rebuke. Isaiah has said a lot about putting down the haughty and prideful. Judgment has been issued. But here, the word is “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God” (Isaiah 40:1). We should be comforted that we’re like grass but the word of God is forever.
Calvin writes, “This passage comprehends the whole Gospel in a few words.”
These two things: our nature and the Lord‘s word. And there is good news to be heard.
We know we’re like grass. Mankind can only flex in front of the mirror for so long. We live in a world of Grand Canyons and deep oceans. There are high mountains and tsunamis. It’s hard to stay haughty when you look around.
But moreoever, we’re fallen. We’re sinners. This means that for all the grasslikeness we are, we’re too blind to really understand it. We are unreliable. We are a needy race, entirely dependent.
But the word of our God.
This word is a resolve. It is his promise to save, to end our warfare and pardon our iniquity. It is his whole action of revealing his glory, of making himself known in salvation. It is the great antithesis to our grassyness. He will do what he says. He will save.
We are grass but Jesus has come. He suffered in our place, bearing the wrath we deserved. He was buried and then raised on the third day. He ascended to heaven and is now reiging over his coming kingdom. We can trust him. The word of our God will stand forever.
What is our confidence in this text?
What is the “word of our God?”
How might Isaiah 40:8 help us when we feel the reality of our grasslikeness?