Saturday, 12 October 2019
“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away… 1 Peter 1:24
Peter now begins a comparison between the “corruptible seed” and that which is “incorruptible” which he spoke of in the preceding verse. He will cite Scripture to make his point. His citation is then divided up into two verses. This first verse speaks of the temporary, corruptible state of the world, including that of fallen man.
His words are a citation from Isaiah 40:6-8. In his citation, it appears he was quoting from memory because it is a mixture of the Hebrew and the Greek of Isaiah’s words, showing that he had probably memorized both at some point. The NKJV translation, which is from the Hebrew, says –
“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.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.’”
The 40th chapter of Isaiah corresponds to the 40th book of the Bible, Matthew. It speaks of the coming Messiah as He would be revealed. In the quote, it speaks of “all flesh.” There is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. Instead, the comparison of all to the grass is made. Peter retains this thought, even though he is addressing Jewish believers. He is speaking of the “corruptible seed” which is unregenerate man.
In this state, he says, “All flesh is as grass.” Anyone who pays attention to the world around him knows the extremely temporary nature of grass. It is eaten up by animals, it dries up and dies without rain, and it fades away with the coming of the blazing sun or the winter season. There is nothing permanent about it.
And so, it is with man. Scripture proclaims that he is just as temporary and fleeting with the words, “And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.” It is a one-to-one comparison – as is the grass, so is man. In this, “The grass withers.” The verb is aorist, and so it more appropriately reads, “The grass withered.” This is not a comparison about the value of man, but rather a comparison about the transitory state of man. The grass was healthy and vibrant, and then it was withered. The idea is that of an immediate passing from one state to the other. From there, Peter says, “And its flower falls away.”
The beauty of the grass with its resplendent flower simply falls off and returns to the earth once again. The idea is that man with his beautiful form at one point in life becomes withered and dried up in a moment. What is eighty years to a man who is looking back on his life? He was born, he was filled with youth and vigor, he matured into a man of wisdom and wealth; and then all of a sudden, he was wrinkled, weak, and incapable of caring for himself. And when the Lord determines, he closes his eyes for the last time and is soon interred again in the earth from which he sprang.
This is the hopeless, temporary, and vain existence which is the life of man, and which Peter first focuses on. In the next verse, he will show the contrast between this corruptible seed, and of that which is incorruptible.
Life application: It is true that this verse should have the next verse included with it in order to be fully understood, but one step at a time will give the mind time to ponder first the words of our corruptible state. Next, we will get to better news, so be patient!
Our years, though few, take their toll on us and bring about changes that are not only permanent, but are physically and mentally degrading. Like the grass, what was green and lush in the morning is dry and crinkly in the evening. Soon its flower falls away and then nothing is left but the slow process of returning to the soil from which it came. Taking heed to Solomon’s warning in Ecclesiastes 12, we should remember our Creator now, before these times of aging have ended us, and we go to our final resting spot. Remember Him now!
Glorious God, seventy years comes out to a bit more than twenty-five thousand days. Many of us have seen far too many of those go by already, and for many of us the majority of them have been unfaithfully negligent concerning our responsibilities to You. Forgive us of our past times of thoughtlessness, and help us to live our days rightly – praising You, speaking of You, and being filled with You! Amen.