Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our reading this week from the Old Testament is Isaiah 40:1-11. This is the beginning of the second of the major divisions of the book of Isaiah. Some will refer to it as “Second Isaiah.” But that’s a different discussion for a different time.
In the spirit of our Advent preparations, we see if there’s a focus on a coming Lord. Indeed, it’s right there, front and center. God is coming, the mighty king who guards his people. This in itself is great news. With a tender, loving Lord coming to watch over his people, as long as we are identified as his people, we have nothing to fear.
However, there’s more comfort to be found here. Verses 6-8 point out that all flesh, all humanity, is like grass. I asked an expert recently how long grass lives. Some is an annual plant and doesn’t last long at all. Some other varieties of grass may live as long as ten years or so. For grass, that’s a long time. But in human terms, it’s temporary. And if we think about the way many grasses seem to grow up and then die back, depending on the season, it’s pretty difficult to track the actual life span of the individual grass plant.
We are like grass. We’re here today and gone tomorrow. Did you just find yourself looking back at the beginning of the last paragraph? How is all flesh being like grass a point of comfort? The great comfort is not in our being temporary, but in God’s permanence. He doesn’t change in his care. He never changes in his disposition for those who trust him. We can take comfort in God’s eternity specifically because we are mortal.
Another bit of comfort - we feel our mortality day by day on this earth. But the same Lord of Isaiah 40 shows himself to be the God of resurrection in the New Testament. He makes us take on eternity in the resurrection of the dead. And in this eternity we will always see the comfort of the Lord. He is truly the shepherd of his people.
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