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DD1: “All Flesh Is As Grass”

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series The John the Baptist Experience: Book 2

The John the Baptist Experience
Book 2: The Extraordinary Message
Deeper Dive #1: “All Flesh Is As Grass”

Copyright © 20231

by
Jim Kerwin

Title tile for 'All Flesh Is As GrassNews alert:
“The one who dies with the most toys loses!
2

It All Comes to an End

Sometimes when we approach a subject, it’s best to launch into it in a state of heart reflection. Often an insightful poem, either secular or sacred, can set the tone. As an epigraph for this chapter, we’ll start with one work which is famous, and end our topic with a poem which should be famous:

Ozymandias

Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things—
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed.

And on the pedestal these words appear:

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

’Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

That poem drifted back into my mind when I started the study notes for this subject. At that point the night of my new birth and entry into the Kingdom of God seemed a long time ago — almost 53 years had passed. At the pinnacle of the joys and happinesses of that experience was this certainty: my forgiven and cleansed soul would be with Jesus when I died. That joy was shared with so many other teens who, like me, came into Christ in Southern California during the advent of the so-called “Jesus Movement.” But that entry into Heaven — death — was a long way off for most of us.3

But when I started writing this, I was in my late 60s and death is all around, most noticeably in the form of COVID-19. Just two days after I started, we received news that a fine Christian brother, a man who in his 20s served as one of our deacons, had died due to neurological complications related to this corona virus. Another pastor friend I knew from that same timeframe of my life died of the same plague about two weeks later. The wife of a pastor friend in Guatemala was taken. Every day brought more sobering news of friends and loved ones suffering or succumbing.

Reviewing such sobering memories and experiences, perhaps it’s time to address an “embedded signal,” as it were, in John’s message. We have seen the different visible components of his message (like conviction, confession, life-changing repentance, and restitution). Mortality and death sharpen our vision and help us see another aspect of John’s clarion call. But before we step back for such wide-angle view, we should “step back” into the Isaiah 40 prophecy, because there is an important element we have postponed until this point in our considerations.

From Preparation to Glory to…

When we studied Isaiah 40:3-4, we saw (in book 1, chapters 2-3) that John was the prophesied “voice crying in the wilderness.” The road-leveling, path-straightening, ground-smoothing message of “the voice” had one purpose: to prepare the way of the Lord and the first appearance of Messiah, by declaration of God’s uncompromising truth, by conviction and repentance and restitution, and by penitent sinners getting their hearts right before the living God.

Then we continued on (in book **, chapter **) through Isaiah 40 to verse 5 to see the results of the response to John’s heart-preparing message:

“Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
– Isaiah 40:5 –

Prepared, repentant hearts paved the way for the glory, the כְבוֺד, the kəḇôḏ, the weighty presence of God in the midst of His people. To show the fulfillment of this prophecy, the Apostle John reports the experience of Christ’s presence:

  1. 14And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.… 16For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
  2. John 1:14,16

  1. 1What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.
  2. 1 John 1:1-3

Observe the steps in God’s progress in the soul: the message of repentance is proclaimed, which prepares hearts for the King’s arrival, which leads in turn to an encounter with God’s glory.

“What Shall I Call Out?”

But God’s process doesn’t stop there, nor does the message of John the Baptist. The repentance — the radical change of outlook to God’s viewpoint — and the encounter with God’s glory is meant to bring about a life-altering frame of reference through which to interpret life and eternity.

The prophecy about John the Baptist in Isaiah 40:3-5 presents him as “a voice in the wilderness.” But continuing on in this prophetic passage, we learn that the “voice in the wilderness” hears another Voice and receives a further message (Isaiah 40:6-8):

6A voice says, “Call out!”
Then he answered, “What shall I call out?”
All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness
is like the flower of the field.
7The grass withers, the flower fades,
When the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
8The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.

Scripture depicts the transitory nature of earthly human existence by means of a variety of images — as here-today-gone-tomorrow grass or flowers, as dust, as a fleeting shadow, as a dissipating cloud, and even as a fast-moving shuttlecock on a weaver’s loom. Death is a stark truth, sinful humanity’s shared dark inheritance, an inevitability; yet most humans spend the better part of their lives living as though they won’t pass through Death’s doorway to judgment. Nevertheless Scripture keeps gently and firmly, kindly and insistently, ominously and soberingly reminding us of our mortality and the briefness of our probationary existence in the flesh.

Is it difficult, or even possible, to accept and embrace that Divine assessment — “all flesh is as grass”? Yes! That’s the focused goal of receiving God-granted repentance — that transformation of our nous,4 our mind, our total-life outlook — as well as our inner encounter and permeation with God’s glory — Christ Himself in our hearts! Those two experiences are meant to forever change how we view life, goals, possessions, our earthly existence, and the claims God makes on us for the sake of His Kingdom and our intimate fellowship with Him. As Paul says,

  • …we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal,5 but the things which are not seen are eternal.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:18

“The Grass Withers, the Flower Fades…”

When we consider God’s analogy — “Surely the people are grass” — we shouldn’t let our minds wander to the green, watered, manicured lawn of our neighbors’ suburban yards. Think instead of the semi-arid climate of the Middle East. After a long-needed, unexpected rain, vegetation springs up all around, literally overnight. Then the relentless heat of the sun and the hot dry winds return, and what is “here today” is “gone tomorrow” — such a brief period of existence.

In the grand scheme of eternity, our earthly lives are like that desert grass. We pop up for a brief moment, and then in the light of the sun we immediately begin to wither — from old age or disease or accident — and fade and die. The Scriptures speak with one voice about this, in both Testaments, through the testimonies of men like Peter and James and David and Job and Moses.

Peter

Do you remember Peter’s straight-out quotation of the Isaiah 40 passage we are considering?

22Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. 24For,

“All flesh is like grass,
And all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
And the flower falls off,
25But the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word which was preached to you.
– 1 Peter 1:22-25 –

“And this is the word which was preached to you.” How interesting! Part of the apostolic Gospel proclamation was this: Life is brief and “perishable,” so live your earthly existence with the eternal and “imperishable” in view.

James

James minces no words when dealing with the rich among his congregation. (He loved them too much to allow them to be deceived by riches and prosperity.6) He lays out the foundation of his teaching on this subject by alluding to the same Isaiah 40 passage:

  • 9…the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; 10and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. 11For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.
  • James 1:9-11

Job

It’s not like any of this was news to the spiritually minded, who have always understood the ephemeral nature of life and lived out their earthly sojourn accordingly. The Book of Job, which may pre-date all other Old Testament writings, shows us just how far back this understanding goes. In Job’s own words,

1“Man, who is born of woman,
Is short-lived and full of turmoil.
2Like a flower he comes forth and withers.
He also flees like a shadow and does not remain.
3You also open Your eyes on him
And bring him into judgment with Yourself.
– Job 14:1-3 –

Moses

Moses, who spent so much time in God’s presence, and most of his life in a desert environment, shares the same withered-grass insight in his psalm:7

3You turn man back into dust
And say, “Return, O children of men.”
4For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it passes by,
Or as a watch in the night.
5You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep;
In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew.
6In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew;
Toward evening it fades and withers away.
– Psalm 90:3-6 –

David

David, who spent his childhood and youth as a “shepherd boy” searching out edible grass for his flocks, was of a mind with the others:

1Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
2For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
– Psalm 37:1-2 –

God’s anointed king didn’t merely relegate this “all flesh is grass” ethos to the wicked. He felt it in his own soul, especially in times of sorrow:

4My heart has been smitten like grass and has withered away,
Indeed, I forget to eat my bread.…
11My days are like a lengthened shadow,
And I wither away like grass.
– Psalm 102:4,11–

So for “the sweet psalmist of Israel,”8 the application is not only to the wicked or to the distressed; it’s applicable to all human life. But the context in which David sets this truth shows that he is neither a fatalist nor a nihilist:

13Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
14For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.
15As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,
And its place acknowledges it no longer.
17But the lovingkindness of the Lord is
from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
18To those who keep His covenant
And remember His precepts to do them.
– Psalm 103:13-18 –

Isaiah

Let’s bring this “all flesh is as grass” theme full circle by returning to Isaiah 40, where we started. The “Voice” (God) has given His “voice” (John the Baptist) the order to proclaim “all flesh is as grass” (vv. 6-8). From there, the Lord then develops several themes, including His Creatorhood, omniscience (vv. 12-14), omnipotence (vv. 15-17), and His superiority over false gods and idols (vv. 18-20). And in declaring His sovereignty over His people, as well as over all other nations and their rulers, He shows that all flesh — all humanity, even its powerful rulers and their mighty and intimidating empires — is grass:

21Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
23He it is who reduces rulers to nothing,
Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.
24Scarcely have they been planted,
Scarcely have they been sown,
Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth,
But He merely blows on them, and they wither,
And the storm carries them away like stubble.
– Isaiah 40:21-24 –

Remember these words of God came through the mouth and pen of Isaiah during the era of the terrifying international dominance of the dreaded Assyrian Empire. And it anticipates the arrival, in succession, of the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman Empires, not to mention all those who have followed in their wake to our present day. But what are those to God? All flesh — anything pertaining to human existence and endeavor — is as grass, ephemeral, gone in a day. Poor Ozymandias9 and his ilk never stood a chance!

The “All Flesh Is As Grass” Message
in John’s Ministry

There are many other Biblical metaphors and similes which could be considered, but this is not the place to pursue them. I don’t want to weary the reader’s patience, because we really need to bring this around to how “all flesh is as grass” was reflected in John’s ministry and message. John lived out this part of the message, and he wove it through the fabric of his preaching.

Rejected: Status, Respectability, Wealth

Speaking of fabric, we would have expected to find John in priestly linen, following in his father’s footsteps in the “family business” of the Levitical priesthood. That would have guaranteed him a certain lifelong social status, respect, tenure, and a measure of financial security. But in view of his “high calling of God,”10 John abandoned the garments of the profession everyone thought he would follow and donned a poor man’s apparel — a coarse “robe” of camel-hair. Was that sartorial choice a conscious, visible association with Elijah? Perhaps, but only insofar as itchy camel hair serves as the basis for sackcloth, which is emblematic of contrition for sin. Such a garment suits a man whose life’s work is to call sinners to repentance. In his “uniform of the day,” John kept God’s purpose in view.

For Jesus and His listeners (many of whom had been followers of the Baptizer), the spiritual message of John’s rustic raiment came through very clearly. In reference to John, Jesus asked the crowd,

    • “What did you you go out into the wilderness to see?… A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who are splendidly clothed and live in luxury are found in royal palaces!”
    • Luke 7:25

Had our modern, well-dressed prosperity preachers lived in John’s day, they would no doubt have tut-tutted John’s “lack of faith” and his inability to “apply Kingdom principles” in order to “live in prosperity.” To say that John owned little would be an understatement; as best we can tell, he owned only the clothes on his back. Apparently, he didn’t even possess an Elijah-style “mantle” to pass on to some worthy disciple, because after John’s execution, the only earthly inheritance his faithful followers received was his headless, lifeless body.

John’s haute couture matched his haute cuisine. The Forerunner, far from eating in the finest restaurants, survived on a rather monotonous diet of “locusts and wild honey” (Matthew 3:4 ∥ Mark 1:6). There was hardly time even for the luxury of “fast food” between preaching engagements for the Baptizer. (I suppose, for John’s sake, we could expand the definition of “fast food” to include regularly sprinting like the dickens from a swarm of wild, enraged honey-bees whose liquid-gold treasure had again been taken by the long-haired, swift-footed, oft-stung prophet. “Fast food,” indeed!)

We could be allowed, on a technicality, to call John’s diet “organic,” perhaps even “health food,” for besides the unpasteurized honey, he dined on locusts. Yes, that’s right, “bugs.” Is that allowed under kosher law?

Locusts in Scripture are almost always associated with destruction and death. Death? Yes, because locusts devour every green thing in their path: every crop in the field, every fruit on every tree, every green leaf. In an agrarian economy, among people living year-to-year by each harvest, starvation follows the locusts. Two of the most famous Old Testament locust passages are the description of the eighth Egyptian plague (Exodus 10:1-19) and the prophet Joel’s call to repentance in the face of the imminent “locustastrophy” (if I may coin a word) about to descend on God’s people Israel (Joel 1:1-12; 2:1-11).11

But what is there to eat after the locusts have ravaged an area? Locusts! In Leviticus 11, the “kosher food chapter,” we find this interesting locust-related exception made:

    • 20“‘All the winged insects that walk on all fours are detestable to you. 21Yet these you may eat among all the winged insects which walk on all fours: those which have above their feet jointed legs with which to jump on the earth. 22These of them you may eat: the locust in its kinds, and the devastating locust in its kinds, and the cricket in its kinds, and the grasshopper in its kinds. 23But all other winged insects which are four-footed are detestable to you.’”
    • Leviticus 11:20-23

In the mysterious providences of God, even that which devastates us can be a source of His supply to sustain us.12

In his short life, the period of John’s world-changing ministry was so brief that Jesus Himself described it as a mere hour (hṓra / ὥρα), a literal translation of the Greek in John 5:35. During the “glory days” of his ministry, John did everything in his power to downplay his own significance (e.g., John 1:19-25), focus on the message he was given to deliver (Luke 3:3-18), and to magnify only the coming Messiah. When the “hour” of his ministry was over, he was completely indifferent, both to his former fame and his newly assigned “has been” status (John 3:26-30).

John, the Forerunner, saw, proclaimed, and modeled the Kingdom principles that Jesus would later preach and exemplify. Far from the modern-day, so-called “Kingdom mentality” that expects, nay, demands, material blessings, John had seen the Kingdom (and, ultimately, its King). In the light of that inner revelation of the Kingdom and its implications, John realized that worldly possessions and honors meant exactly nothing in the Light of eternity. He lived with God Himself in view, compared to whom everything else was withering grass. He embodied and lived out what Jesus would come to teach:

  • Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
  • Matthew 19:21
  • 44“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, 46and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
  • Matthew 13:44-46
  • “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.”
  • Luke 12:33

And John’s foundation-laying teaching and example continue into the praxis and preaching of the early Church:

  • 34For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.
  • Acts 4:34-35
  • 7…whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish13so that I may gain Christ…
  • Philippians 3:7-8
  • 15Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
  • 1 John 2:15-17

“Grass” and and John’s “Withering” Message

Very well. So John lived with eternity in view and not with one eye on the world or fame or riches. He modeled the lifestyle. Where do we see the Isaiah 40 commission to preach “all flesh is as grass” in his message?

That’s simple to answer: in his focus that each of his hearers was facing God’s judgment. Too often in our preaching, we have neglected not only the brevity of life but the inevitable aftermath of death — the judgment seat of God:

  • …it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment….
  • Hebrews 9:27

Earthly life, as it turns out, is a probationary testing period, a trial period, which, properly lived, allows us to submit ourselves to God and be prepared for Heaven… or eternal punishment. As part of John’s calling as Messiah’s “voice in the wilderness,” he was required to place special emphasis on the reality that “all flesh is as grass.” Earthly life is all too brief; only God-rooted eternal things last. As Walter Smith expressed the same thought in his incomparable hymn:

We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish, but naught changeth Thee.14

To that end, John exhorted the people to get right with God by means of repentance. Part of that repentance was to receive such a divine change of mind so as to move through earthly life with its temporality in view, conscious of God’s judgment and eternity which lie just out of view.

Motivated by the certainty that

Surely the people are grass.
8The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever
(Isaiah 40:7b-8),

John warned his audience to “flee the wrath to come” (Luke 3:7), to demonstrate sincere repentance (Luke 3:8), to eschew trust in religion to save (Luke 3:8), to liberally share their temporal, earthly goods with those in need (Luke 3:10-11), to be free of worldly greed by dealing honestly with all men (Luke 3:12-13), and to make room for Christ in their hearts (Luke 3:16-18).

John, the “voice” queried the Voice, and was told to proclaim that “all flesh is as grass.” He obeyed, and in doing so, his listeners begged him for the answer to yet another question, one which would help them apply this realization of the fleetingness of life: What shall we do? Shouldn’t this “all flesh is as grass” message be part of our Gospel message, too? And about our personal lives, shouldn’t we be asking the Lord, “What shall we do?” with the same view of molting off earthly entanglements?

We’ve already looked at Moses’ embrace and understanding of “withering grass” theology. Small wonder that he made these words his prayer:

So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
– Psalm 90:12 nkjv

We began with a poem and I promised that we would conclude with one. We’ll give the honor of expression to veteran missionary and “man’s man,” C.T. Studd,15 who expressed that “heart of wisdom” so well, and the Bible’s “all flesh is as grass” theme, in the repeating refrain of what may be his most lyric verse:

Only One Life, ’Twill Soon Be Past

C.T. Studd
(1860-1931)

Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way,
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart—
“Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

“Only one life!” Yes, only one;
Soon will its fleeting hours be done,
Then, in “that day” my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgment seat.
“Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

“Only one life!” The still small voice
Gently pleads for a better choice,
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave.
“Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

“Only one life!” A few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its days I must fulfill,
Living for self or in His will.
“Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me, Lord, with joy to say,
“Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Give me, Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true whate’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life.
“Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Oh, let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn,
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne!
“Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

“Only one life!” Yes, only one!
Now let me say, “Thy will be done;”
And when at last I hear the call,
I know I’ll say, “’Twas worth it all!”
“Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.


Endnotes:


  1. This is an excerpt from the forthcoming book The John the Baptist Experience: Book 2: The Extraordinary Messenger; copyright © 2023 by Jim Kerwin. All rights reserved.

    Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations are taken from New American Standard Bible (nasb) Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA. All rights reserved. Used by Permission. www.lockman.org

  2. The title tile image is a copyrighted photo by Rex Wholster and used under license from iStockphotos.com.
  3. I say “for most of us” because within two months of my high school graduation in 1970, a car accident killed a Christian sister, a fellow graduate; put another into a coma; and took the life of another member of our youth group. Attending one of the funerals (in Arizona, as a I recall) put a sobering damper on the elation of having finished my first solo, multi-week ministry trip to the Dallas, Texas area.
  4. Refer back to the chapter on repentance, metánoia, the transformation of the nous.
  5. Temporal, in 2 Corinthians 4:18, is a good translation of the Greek word próskairos (πρόσκαιρος); most English Bibles use the word. The problem is that temporal, while we can approximate the meaning from the context, is not a word most English speakers know or use in ordinary speech. The Greek lexicon gives temporary, lasting only for a short time as the meaning, which matched the English-dictionary definition of pertaining to or concerned with the present life or this world; worldly; enduring for a time only; temporary; transitory (opposed to eternal). Various other English translation offer transient (ESV), temporary (ISV, LEB, NIV, NKJV, Weymouth, Williams, YLT).
  6. In additional to unfavorably comparing the rich with the poor (James 2:5-6), James also uses especially strong language with his rich congregants in James 5:1-6.
  7. Note that the superscription of Psalm 90, part of the inspired text, says, “A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.” This should come as no surprise to Bible readers, who know that Moses wrote a very long song for all of Israel to memorize; see Deuteronomy 31:30–32:47. (Moses’ blessing of Israel, comprising all of Deuteronomy 33, might also be considered a lyric work.) Since the time he arrived in Heaven, Moses has written at least one other Top Ten song (in conjunction with the Lord Jesus); see Revelation 15:3-4.
  8. So David is called in 2 Samuel 23:1.
  9. See Shelley’s poem at the beginning of this chapter.
  10. Philippians 3:14
  11. There are, of course, many other passages referring to locusts and their destruction, including Deuteronomy 28:38-42; 1 Kings 8:37(-41) ∥ 2 Chronicles 6:28 (-31); 2 Chronicles 7:13-14; Psalm 78:46 (referring to the Egyptian plague); Psalm 105:34-35 (Egypt again); Proverbs 30:27; Isaiah 33:3-4; Nahum 3:15, 17; and the nightmarish creatures of Revelation 9:3, 7.
  12. No doubt “there’s a sermon in there somewhere” about drawing nourishment from things that devastate your life; but I’ll leave it for the reader to pursue the subject.
  13. Rubbish? The King James Version is not too strong in translating this word — skúbalon / σκύβαλον — as dung. Other translations (e.g., Darby, NKJV, RV, Reina-Valera and RV60 {both estiércol}) give the same emphasis: dung.

    Don’t just think, “Uh huh” and turn away from this repulsive, smelly word picture Paul has just painted. If you were holding an armload of the riches and honors of this present age and suddenly that armload of “desirables” should be revealed in their true form — a moist, warm, steaming, putrid pile of manure — what would you do? As everyone around was retreating from you because of the stomach-turning stench, you’d be flinging your dung to the ground, wiping your vile-smelling hands in vain, all while trying to peel off your dung-impregnated clothing and running for the nearest shower!

    Carefully examine the armload of desirables you’re holding at the moment; ask the Lord to show them to you as they really are, as He sees them!

  14. From Immortal, Invisible by Walter Smith
  15. The life of C.T. (Charles Thomas) Studd bore testimony to the fruitfulness of living with “all flesh is as grass” in view. He was born into a wealthy English family, educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, and enjoyed fame in the British Empire as a cricketeer. Studd gave up all his wealth and prestige to serve the Lord Jesus. First he volunteered for missionary work under Hudson Taylor in China; later he served as a minister in India; and finally (for the last 17 years of his life) he did pioneering mission work in the heart of Africa. In fact, the missionary group he founded was called just that — The Heart of Africa Mission. “HAM” has evolved over the years into what is now WEC International, still faithfully proclaiming the Gospel around the world.
Series Navigation<< 02: Coming to Grips with Kingship and Collective AmnesiaDD2: Kingdom of God or “King's Kids”? >>
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