We can stand firm because the Bible stands forever
Isaiah chapter 40 marks a new section in the book of Isaiah. Up to this point, Isaiah had been warning the Jews of his own time to obey the Lord (cf. Isaiah 1:18-19).
But in Isaiah 40, he shifts to the future. In just a short while, the Jews would find themselves taken captive to the land of Babylon. There they would languish for 70 years.
Questions would certainly flood their minds, like, “Has God abandoned us?” “Will we ever return to our home?”
Isaiah, guided by God’s Holy Spirit, would write for those Jews living decades later, to comfort them. Isaiah 40 begins on this note: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God” (Isaiah 40:1).
Part of the comfort he gave was that they would return to the Promised Land (Isaiah 43) and Babylon would fall (Isaiah 46).
How could they know that this would be true? Because, Isaiah reports, God’s Word stands forever. Through any trial or change, God’s people can be assured that the Bible stands. That God’s promises are always true.
But before we come to this great theological bedrock to base our lives on, God, through Isaiah, reminds us that…
HUMANITY, LIKE THE GRASS, FADES AND FALLS
Isaiah 40:6a The voice said, Cry.
The voice in the passage is unidentified. In verse 3, we see that there is a “voice of him that crieth in the wilderness.” That voice is Isaiah, and prophetically, it points to John the Baptist.
But the voice in verse 6 seems to be the Lord Himself. Isaiah (the voice crying in the wilderness) responds to this voice and it’s command to “Cry”—
Isaiah 40:6b And he said, What shall I cry?
[Answer:] All flesh is grass, And all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:
The Lord makes a comparison here. “All flesh” refers to the human race. We and all our “goodliness” (our beauty, our talent, our abilities) are like the “grass” and the “flower of the field.” And what are they like?
Isaiah 40:7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: Because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: Surely the people is grass.
Grass and flowers wither and fade. They die. What’s more, the Lord is in control of the duration of the grass and flowers. The Lord sends April showers which bring May flowers, but what happens in July and August?
The “spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it” in the form of hot winds and no rain.
This is also true of humans. The Lord rules over our existence from the cradle to the grave. As Job learned,
21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return thither: The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job 1:21)
We are all mortal, and one day, it’s like the Lord flips a switch and our heart stops and our life on earth is over. We die.
The only thing you can do in regard to your eventual death is to be prepared for it.
And the only thing that you can do to prepare for your death (that matters) is to be made right with the Lord.
And the only thing you can do to be made right with the Lord is to have faith in His Son, Jesus, whom He sent to die for your sins. Are you prepared for your death? Are you prepared in the only way that matters—by believing in Jesus Christ?
Humanity, like the grass, fades and falls, but…
THE BIBLE STANDS
Let’s come back to the point of the comparison:
Isaiah 40:8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: But the word of our God shall stand for ever.
Nothing, no one, lasts. The proud, waving grass of Springtime is mashed down by the first snow in November. The strong, youthful person is soon bent over with age and then lying flat in the coffin at the end.
But there is one thing that does stand forever—the “word of our God.” The Bible stands, century after century, on to eternity.
Where do you get comfort? God has provided many means of appropriate comfort for us in our lives:
- We have books and television to take our minds off from the events of a really bad, horrible, rotten day.
- We have comfort foods like pizza, ice cream and chocolate syrup to make us feel better.
- We have medicines and doctors who can fix many of the problems with have with our bodies, or give us pain-killers if they can’t.
- We have insurance that can help ease our minds when a tree crashes into our car or our house tries to tackle a tornado.
- We have friends and family to give hugs and support in the bad times.
Now, all those means of comfort are good. But what is true of all those means of comfort? They are all fallible and insufficient.
What good was family to the Israelites who were ripped from their homes and exiled in a faraway land for 70 years?
Maybe a shoulder to cry on. But they couldn’t, by themselves, offer assurance that someday they would be taken back to the Promised Land.
You know how people will say to a person in distress, “I’m sure things will work out”? That’s nice, but useless. How can anyone be sure of anything? How can that person be sure that your loved one in the hospital won’t die? The truth is, they can’t…those are just empty words.
I am not saying that friends, family, insurance and even ice cream are wrong means of comfort (so breathe easy!). I am not even saying that, if we were super spiritual, that we could go without family or friends. We shouldn’t and we can’t.
But beyond all those people and things, there is something more sure. They are like the grass that withers, but the Bible stands. Therefore it is the first and best place to go for comfort.
The Bible is what makes the other means of comfort better. A person who says, “I am sure that things will work out” is speaking hollow words with no real backing.
But a believer who gently says to another suffering believer, “I know that God will work good in this situation even if we can’t understand it right now,” is speaking a truth that is sure because it comes from the Bible that stands forever.
STAND FIRM BECAUSE THE BIBLE STANDS
How can the Bible give us comfort in hard times? How does a person with a broken leg stand? They use a crutch, a cane, a walker. They use a piece of strong metal.
Non-believers often mock Christians for needing God as a crutch (one woman just told me that the other day).
Don’t take that as an insult. We need a crutch, and so do they…they just use a fallible crutch like drugs, alcohol, money, etc.
We need a crutch to stand strong. Use the Bible as your crutch. Long after the non-believer’s crutch has failed them, you will be standing firm because the Bible stands.
How do we use the Bible as a crutch to help us stand strong?
1) Believe What The Bible Says About God’s Character
When Jerusalem was a burning pile of rubble, the prophet Jeremiah exclaimed:
21 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. 22 It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:21–23)
Jeremiah did not know all the reasons why and what God’s exact plan was, but he did know that God was merciful and faithful.
For us, we need to read the Bible daily, not just to check it off our to-do list. We need to read looking for God’s character.
We need to stockpile what the Bible says about God’s character so that, like Jeremiah, we can recall it to our minds and have hope in the days we need comfort.
2) Believe What The Bible Says About God’s Commands
The world says that it’s okay to have religion as long as you don’t push it on others and adopt modern views of morality!
To stand firm in this culture, you have to believe that what God commands in the Bible is right and best. You have to believe that the Bible stands forever.
Don’t let yourself be tempted to think that some what the Bible says is out of date, that the experts know so much better.
To obey God’s Word makes you wise and blessed; to disobey is foolish and leads to destruction:
7 The memory of the just is blessed: But the name of the wicked shall rot. 8 The wise in heart will receive commandments: But a prating [babbling] fool shall fall. 9 He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: But he that perverteth his ways shall be known. (Proverbs 10:7–9)
Following God’s commands proves itself. The righteous person will live a blessed life. But the fool, with their ungodly choices, will eventually fall.
3) Believe What The Bible Says About God’s Promises
God makes many, many promises to us in His Word. He will keep all of them:
- Unjust things will one day be made right.
- Believers in Christ separated by death will be reunited.
- We will one day stand on a new earth where sin will never touch us again.
All these promises will be ours when we believe in the promise of forgiveness that God gives us in Jesus Christ—
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9)
Are you clinging to that promise of God in Jesus Christ today? Then all His other promises are also yours to cling to, to find comfort in, to help you stand in the hard times.
HOW TESS STOOD BECAUSE THE BIBLE STANDS
Recently I read about a woman named Tess, a Christian, who was able to stand through some tough times because the Bible stands.
In early 2012, my mother was diagnosed with metastatic and recurrent ovarian cancer, with a terminal prognosis…In the last days of her physical illness, she became increasingly delirious, but remarkably, what she was quoting was Scripture.
It was so embedded in her heart, that when disease had ravaged her mind, and reduced her to incoherent ramblings, what was left was the Word of God [I desire this for myself!].
As we buried her, my prayer was that the Lord would place His Word so deep in my heart, so that when my mind was in extremis, I would only be able to speak His words back to Him.
In August 2012, we welcomed our third boy…Fourteen weeks later, on a beautiful and mild November afternoon, I returned from work…just when our nanny was waking our baby from his nap.
Her screams of terror took several seconds to penetrate my consciousness. I walked into our bedroom, knowing exactly what had happened. I knew he had died before I laid eyes on him.
My very first thought was Job 1:21, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord” followed closely by 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (Tess, 60-63)
When I read about how the Bible was the last thing in Tess’s mother’s mind as she died and the first thing in Tess’s mind when her baby died, I thought, “I want that.”
I want to have the Bible so soaked into my mind, that it’s just there when I need it. I want to stand firm because the Bible stands forever. My prayer is that you will want to do the same.
Tess. “The End Has Not Been Written.” Pages 60–63 in Walking with God through Pain and Suffering. New York: Dutton, 2013.