5 You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew. 6 In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades and withers away.
Moses continues his no-holds-barred consideration of the timelessness of God and the time-boundedness of man. In today’s verses of our meditation, Moses recognizes the fact that human life is unfailingly, consistently transitory. No life lasts longer than its allotted time. In fact, from the grand, divine view of things, every human life can be compared to the variety of the desert grass of the Middle East that Moses observed would sprout early in the morning, watered by the precious dew of the evening, flourish for a few short hours, and then whither under the ruthless heat of the mid-day sun. By nighttime, each blade of grass was gone. We are not exactly like that grass—we are much more precious to the Lord than a blade of grass. But we are like it, in that we do not last. We can exercise five days a week, eat no red meat, but only organic food, pop vitamins like candy, religiously wear our seatbelts, and never take a second piece of pie, but we still are more like a single, thready little blade of grass than a redwood, according to these verses. If we were seed packets, we’d be found in the Annuals section of the rack, not the Perennials. No life-coach, plastic surgeon, or motivational speaker can change the fact that in the end of this earthly life, we are swept away as if by a flood at its fullest, raging strength.
But Moses slips in a phrase here that brings me much encouragement: They fall asleep. Did you see that? I believe that Moses was the first writer of Scripture to use of the word sleep to describe physical death. David wrote of his fear of “sleeping the sleep of death.” (Psalm 13:3) Daniel wrote of those who “sleep in the dust” awaking to life. (Daniel 12:2) The prophet Jeremiah wrote of the Babylonians sleeping a “perpetual sleep.” (Jeremiah 51:57) Our Lord once approached the lifeless body of a little girl and pronounced that she was “only sleeping,” and was mocked by the professional death mourners. When someone is dead, we don’t say, “Oh, he’s only sleeping,” because he is NOT sleeping, he is dead. Likewise, when someone is sleeping, we don’t say, “She is dead,” because she is certainly not dead, but is only sleeping. When we reach the end of our short, earthly lives, we are not dead forever, but will one day be brought back to life, and therefore Moses calls it sleep, for we will one Day be awakened by the voice of the King of Life.
Pray today the prayer of thanks for your eternal life—that the day of your death is in the hands of the Lord, as is the day of your resurrection from the dead. Pray for your friends and your family members who do not know your kindhearted, forgiving Lord, that they would make peace with Him now, so that their resurrection would be to eternal life, not punishment.