Modern medicine has made eye-popping, jaw-dropping advances. With technology and creativity and man’s endless desire to solve the next problem, we have done amazing things for the human body. Brain surgeries to cure tremors and surgeries on babies still in the womb still seem unbelievable. I’m thankful for God’s common grace of surgeons, doctors and drug researchers to contribute to the good of man.
Yet sometimes I wonder what the underlying motivation and worldview is. It would seem at times that modern medicine and technology is our version of the Tower of Babel. It would seem the goal is to live forever and the worldview is that death, pain and all unhappiness should and can be avoided. If you listen closely you may discern an attitude that says every individual, no matter their lifestyle choices or genes, should live a long and happy life. No one should die from anything but “natural causes”, whatever that means.
But eventually we must face reality.
I think of Genesis 5, often called the “Death Chapter”. While we are debating whether antediluvians lived 900+ years (I believe they did), we miss the point. Eight times we read the refrain, “and he died.” That’s the point, they all eventually died, no matter how long they lived.
The Prophet Isaiah was exhorted to “call out.” Preach something Isaiah. Proclaim it from the roof tops. Raise your voice. Be heard. You the man! So he asked, “what shall I call out?” He wanted to get it right.
God’s answer was unexpected dose of harsh reality and included the prophet as well.
“All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness 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 stands forever.” Isa. 40:6-8
C’mon God, we need a little more positive and encouraging KLOVE here!
In case we missed it, the Apostle Peter echoes the refrain in I Peter 1:24-25.
“All flesh is like grass,
And all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
And the flower falls off,
But the word of the Lord endures forever.”
Now this is getting old. I was hoping to be compared to something a little more, shall we say impressive.
With climate and topography very similar to Israel, we get an annual display of this in Kerrville, Texas. The abundant rains of May greened this place up like we haven’t seen in years. It was glorious, for a short season. By July, non-watered grass has withered, turned brown. Sooner if there wasn’t shade. We are that grass. Our life span is the brief time of green. Before you know it, life is over. Shallow roots lead to rapid deterioration.
The next phrase just jumps out – “and all its glory like the flower of grass.” All its glory … ALL its glory?
But what about putting a man on the moon? What about the Sears Tower, the sub-four minute mile and Michael Jordan’s dunk from the free throw line? What about The Donald? I guess God doesn’t watch the ESPY’s.
You can take all the fame, honor, “greatness” of man in himself looked at in totality throughout the history of the world, combine all our physical, mental, social and creative exploits and advances in every field of endeavor over every generation and before the Eternal God it is all fading grass. God says, “Not impressed.”
In 60 days or less the flowers have drooped, faded in beauty and begun to decay. The very best of man and woman eventually fades, falls and is forgotten. Most don’t even know the first names of their great-grandparents. Gray and gravity, age and death always win. The super model at 18? Not so much at 80.
So where is lasting beauty? Where should we put our hope during this fleeting, vaporous life? Where do we turn when the doctors say, “we’ve done all we can do.”
Only one place: “The word of the Lord endures forever.” Nations and cities and individuals don’t endure forever. The world as we know it won’t endure forever. Your doctor and spouse and house and kids and church and pastor and business and most prized possessions won’t endure forever. But the gospel message and the promises of God will.
May God help us to order our priorities and adjust our expectations accordingly.
Unless otherwise noted, all posts are written by Pastor Chris McKnight