The Word Of Our God Will Stand Forever

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A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when 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 will stand forever. – Isaiah 40:6-8 (NRSV)

When the prophet responds to the heavenly voice, “What shall I cry out?”, he’s not asking for the words he should proclaim. Rather, he objects to the voice’s charge, as if to say, “What on earth do you expect me to say?”

Then follows a defeated expression of the frailty and impermanence of humanity, comparing humans to grass and flowers withering under the breath of the LORD. He may be alluding to the suffering of his people at the hands of the Babylonians, who some years earlier conquered Jerusalem, committed unspeakable acts of violence against Judahites, and exiled the upper classes to Babylon. He might also be expressing fear for his own wellbeing – perhaps he will be overcome by the breath of the LORD.

The “voice” responds with the prophet’s own words: Yes, it’s true that “the grass withers, the flower fades. But the word of our God will stand forever.” In the face of the prophet’s own and indeed all of humanity’s weakness and impermanence, God’s word will endure. The voice reminds the prophet that the present situation of his people will not be permanent.

The Babylonians are only human after all; their empire will fail too. But God’s word, the promises he previously made to his people, will ultimately prevail.

This prophet, reluctant at first, therefore takes up the commission to proclaim comfort to the people of the Lord (v. 1). Like me, you might sometimes ask what life-giving words God could possibly speak into today’s world. This passage invites us to consider the big picture of the Bible, that God is both powerful and faithful, and that his good intentions for the world he loves will come to fruition. Our lives may be short and at times painful, but we can be assured that God’s word is eternal.

Lord, help us to allow your Word to speak and cut through every part of our lives. Direct our path so that our thoughts, words, and actions glorify who you are and help point others to you. May we experience the Godly life you intended for us to have according to your will. Amen.


THIS DEVOTIONAL IS WRITTEN BY Clare Knowles, Translations Coordinator at BIBLE SOCIETY NZ


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