Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament, Part 92

“For, ‘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 abides forever.’ And this is the word which was preached to you.” 1 Peter 1:24-25 (NAS)

The apostle Peter opens his inspired epistle to the scattered aliens (all Christians) by moving them through themes of propitiation (vss 2-4), protection (vs 5), persecution (vss 6-9), prophecy (vss 10-12), preparation (vs13-15), purification (vss 16-22) and closes with the proclamation contrasting the perishable with the imperishable, the temporal with the permanent (vss 23-25). 

It is here that he is moved by the Holy Spirit to quote from the prophet Isaiah. The passage is found in Isaiah 40:6-8, “A 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. 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.” (NASB) Isaiah chapter forty is the prophetic look forward for the people of God designed to bring them comfort in the predicted delivery of the people from captivity upon payment for her transgressions (vss 1-2). The Old Testament reader or hearer during the Babylonian captivity would understand this to be looking to the fulfillment of the promised herald of God announcing the release of the people, that the way through the desert was once more to be opened leading back to the Promised Land (vss 3-4) where the glory of the LORD would be revealed and  “all flesh will see it together.” (Isa. 40:5) A partial fulfillment of this prophesy of Isaiah did take place in the decree of Cyrus when he announced the release of the people to return to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. God’s power (glory) was revealed in His predictive promises when He engineered the return of the people that all the nations would see it together. However, the New Testament makes it clear that the true and complete fulfillment of this prophesy of Isaiah occurred in reference to the coming of Jesus Christ as heralded by John the Immerser. (C. f. Matt. 3:3, Mark 1:2-3, Luke 3:4-6, John 1:23) Peter, through the Spirit, is insuring the chosen should be strengthened by the knowledge that God is faithful and His word will not fail. His word is firm, unlike the fragile promises or threats of man. The nation of Israel, as an example to the church, had time and again trusted in or cowered before man. Too often they took the clearly communicated will of God and thought they could tamper with it without regard to repercussions. No matter how good the intentions, when they put their trust in those who fashioned their own will upon that of the LORD’s, there were ramifications. No matter how powerful a person or a people appeared in their glory, all the prominent people and nations in history have waned and withered relative to God’s plan as revealed in the record of His word. First century Christians were able to get the message preached throughout the world in the face of constant opposition because they knew the word of God had been, was being, and would continue to be executed as revealed. They knew the Christ had  “appeared in these last times” for their sake and ours, and that through Him they and we “are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” (1 Pet. 1:21) This, brethren, was the true glory of the LORD that was to be revealed that all flesh was to see.  How was this done? An understanding of prophetic utterances in light of New Testament interpretation. “And this was the word which was preached to you.” The power of the permanence of God’s word cannot be overstated. It is still one of the greatest miracles He has performed by insuring it was preserved and then provided to His people to strengthen us in our resolve to preach the word to all the nations. All flesh is a fading, perishable flower-but they need not remain that way. God has offered reservations in heaven where there is an imperishable inheritance. So church, listen up: “Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities… ‘Here is your God!’ ” (Isa. 40:9) Preach the gospel and point the people to Him who sits in glory! Amen.


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