Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart: http://sothrichfield.podbean.com
Isaiah 40:6-11 (NIV)
6 A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. 7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” 9 You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” 10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. 11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
Sometimes when I wake up in the morning my breath could destroy flowers because it smells so bad! That is NOT what Isaiah is talking about here when he says that the “grass withers and the flowers fall because the breath of the Lord falls on them.” The same word in Hebrew that is translated breath is also translated spirit, so we might translate this passage as “the Spirit of the Lord blows on them.” This idea goes all the way back to creation where the Spirit (breath) of God hovers over the waters of creation (Gen. 1:2) and God speaks a word and creates from nothing (Gen. 1:3). God’s breath of life, His life-giving Spirit, is far more powerful and enduring than anything that we can imagine and the words that God breathes out have incredible power that we do not fully comprehend. When God’s Spirit is “breathed” out and His Words are spoken they have the power to give life. In the gospel of John, chapter 1, Jesus is called the “Word” because He is the manifestation of God’s words of judgment and grace. In Jesus free grace is given. By trusting in Jesus, we are believing that God has already fulfilled His promises. But Jesus, the Word of God, is also judgment because we cannot get to God on our own. We need Jesus to save us, speaking forgiveness and bringing us into a new relationship with the Father. Those words of forgiveness condemn our brokenness, sin, wickedness, and self-centered lives while setting us free to new life. Christmas is both the promise of life and judgment on our sinful selves. You are in need of a savior. You cannot fix yourself. You’re breath stinks. But… good news for you! You have a savior, you are loved… and get some floss! Let us pray: Heavenly Father, breathe Your Spirit upon us this Christmas and fill us with the words of good news that Jesus has indeed come and given us forgiveness and new life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.