6 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.”
Over and over, I come back to this Bible before me. It’s hard not to, really, because it has been around for so long. All the commentaries, the modern uplifting books, the supposed “guides” to the Scriptures are really nothing compared with the Book itself. Men come and go, but, as the verse above says, the word of our God stands forever.
Why, then, do so many fail to heed that Word? Why do they keep reading other books and other authors while the Word of God waits for them on the shelf? I was watching an interview with a theologian a few days ago, and he hit the nail on the head when he said the appeal of such other books and programs was simple: people want power.
In the ancient days, people sought pieces of the Cross or relics of the apostles to bring them healing or luck. (One modern historian quipped that if you brought together all the bits of the “one true Cross,” you’d have enough wood to build a house.) In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it was the fountains and springs and grottos and other places of pilgrimage that people sought. People today still visit these places where saints have lived, seeking for some of that divine presence to rub off on them. Even skeptical Protestants seek the touch of divine power through pilgrimages and formulae and programs and step-by-step guides to faith and prayer. They want the Word of God distilled and packaged, made simple for them so they can take it in little bits. In short, for far too many people, the power of God has become magic, a mystical solution to their worldly problems.
Worse yet, many people DON’T seek that power at all, simply accepting the little bit of the Bible that is mentioned in Sunday sermons. As I’ve mentioned before, we can’t really lay the blame on denominations that discourage the laity from reading their own Bibles. We are just a lazy society, and we no longer view the Bible as the centerpiece of our understanding of God. Ask many people about how they came to knowledge of some aspect of God or some verses in the Bible, and they will tell you the name of a pastor or author who opened the Scriptures FOR them. Ask them what they have since learned on their own, and you’ll hear silence. True, there is precedent for preachers bringing the light of understanding to many people. It is, after all, the work of the evangelist to help people see what they have not seen before. However, once they HAVE seen, why do they STOP LOOKING? Why do they just shut the Book and wait for another teacher to open it for them? There is SO much more to be seen and known on their own, and yet they do not even try!
Men are like grass, and the words of men wither and fade like the flowers of spring. New fads and so-called “new understandings” of Scripture come and go. And many liberal thinkers will even try to cast the ancient Word of God in modern terms, seeking to justify modern ways of life that are not seen in the Bible–or, worse yet, that are considered sinful in the Bible. These words of men and women grow up like weeds overnight, and they flourish for a time. But the breath of God that inspired the Bible blows over these commentaries and interpretations and makes them wither and die. The words of men cannot stand up to the power of the Word of God.
What shall I cry out? I shall cry out “Come back to the Word of our God! Return to the place where you hear His voice! Do not be afraid of a burning bush, a cloud of thunder on a mountaintop, or the still small voice that follows the fire and the earthquake. Seek God while He may be found by you! Seek Him in the place where He has spoken, where He speaks now, and where He will speak until the day of His return. Come back to the Bible!”
For me, the final word in all matters of doctrine and righteousness and faith is the Word of God, this Holy Bible that lays open beside me. I read other books now and then about this Book, but I always come back to this Word. Not a day goes by that I do not read from it and learn from it. No morning passes that my faith is not strengthened and my hope renewed. Not an evening fades without me reflecting on the gospel itself and the wonder of God’s grace and mercy. The Bible speaks of faith, hope, love, sin, and salvation, and we should return to it again and again. The words of men are just withering grass and fading flowers, but this Bible is the Word of our God. It is the breath of our Creator, the voice of the Lord God Almighty, and like Him, it stands forever.
Lord God, Creator of the very words we speak to You and about You, I thank You for Your Word. Your Book alone stands the test of time, watched over as it is by Your Holy Spirit. Though men may come and go, though civilizations rise and fall, though many may forget Your promises, Your mercy, and Your wrath, still Your Word remains. Let me drink of that fountain of wisdom and hope every day, Father. And may the words that I speak and write always point others back to You and Your eternal Word. Amen.