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Word Study - "All Flesh"

Exegesis In Action

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This month's word study will focus on the phrase "all flesh". It means quite a few things depending on its context but it always has overtones of of temporary, mortal man in contrast to the eternal almighty God. It sums us up very neatly. No matter how great our triumphs or technology. No matter how vast our wealth or knowledge. No matter if we are arrayed as an army with banners - we are still just flesh. Its a phrase that puts us in our place and which reminds us that no matter what it is we who are the creatures. God alone is God.

All Flesh Is Transient

(Isaiah 40:5-8 NKJV) The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, Andall flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." {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."

Transient flesh - permanent God! Weak are not just mortal and transient we are also corruptible. The phrase "all flesh" is used twelve times in the flood account (Genesis 6:12,13,17,19; 7:15,16,21; 8:17; 9:11,15,16,17). Most of the time it just means "all living things" e.g. Genesis 6:19 "And of every living thing of allflesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female." However, whenever it refers to human beings it has a sting to it.

(Genesis 6:12-13 NKJV) So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. {13} And God said to Noah, "The end of allflesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. We are portrayed accurately as both mortal and corruptible.

The Flood Account culminates in God's covenant with "all flesh" where He is both Judge and Preserver. God is absolutely God and we and all animals are utterly dependent on His mercy for our continued existence.

(Genesis 9:11 NKJV) "Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall allflesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.".....{16} "The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of allflesh that is on the earth." {17} And God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth."

All Flesh Derives Its Life From God

"All flesh" refers to us as creatures animated by a "life principle". Flesh is always "alive" it is not just a material body - it is an ensouled body, animated, alive with the life God provides. It has variety designed into it by God - (1 Corinthians 15:39 NKJV) " All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.". Life is sacred , varied and contained within the flesh - in its blood - hence this warning to the Israelites about not eating blood.

(Leviticus 17:14 NKJV) "for it is the life of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, 'You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.'

Our life is in our blood - it passes all through our bodies. A limb without blood is dead. The blood is the animating principle of all flesh as the blood of Christ is the animating principle of His body the Church. We become flesh by being born and this is a sacred moment in the eyes of God.

(Numbers 18:15 NKJV) "Everything that first opens the womb of all flesh, which they bring to the LORD, whether man or beast, shall be yours; nevertheless the firstborn of man you shall surely redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem." Our life comes from God who owns it and we are to be utterly thankful for it.

Flesh is also inhabited by spirit - which is from God.

(Numbers 16:22 NKJV) Then they fell on their faces, and said, "O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and You be angry with all the congregation?" and (Numbers 27:16 NKJV) "Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation,.

Without the spirit we perish.

(Job 34:14-15 NKJV) If He should set His heart on it, If He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath, {15}All flesh would perish together, And man would return to dust.

As "all flesh" we are dependent on other humans and especially powerful people and governments. Nebuchadnezzar was a mighty emperor in the time of Daniel and his kingdom was a generally benevolent dictatorship. In a dream it is described as a great tree...

(Daniel 4:12 NKJV) Its leaves were lovely, Its fruit abundant, And in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, The birds of the heavens dwelt in its branches, Randall flesh was fed from it.

The divinely instituted government was a way for God to provide protection to His creatures - but it in turn was dependent on God. In the immediately following verses the tree is "cut down" by the Lord.

(Daniel 4:13-15 NKJV) "I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven. {14} He cried aloud and said thus: 'Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, Strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts get out from under it, And the birds from its branches.

Thus we see that even those who can provide protection for all flesh are utterly dependent on God's favor themselves.

"All flesh" emphasizes our fragility, the ease with which we perish especially when confronted by Almighty God.

(Deuteronomy 5:26 NKJV) 'For who is there of allflesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? Yet God is merciful towards us in our fragility and provides our needs (Psalms 136:25 NKJV) Who gives food to all flesh, For His mercy endures forever. Our response to this is fearful trembling and humble prayer to God (Psalms 65:2 NKJV) O You who hear prayer, To You allflesh will come. and (Psalms 145:21 NKJV) My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD, And allflesh shall bless His holy name Forever and ever.

All Flesh Shall Be Judged

Those who refuse to acknowledge God in humble obedience are doomed. Like insects hitting the windscreen of a car their headlong flight of madness is just a demonstration of their own folly.

(Isaiah 49:26 NKJV) I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh, And they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine.All flesh shall know That I, the LORD, am your Savior, And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob." and (Isaiah 66:16 NKJV) For by fire and by His sword The LORD will judge all flesh; And the slain of the LORD shall be many.

The final judgment will be irrevocable with an eternal distinction being made between the righteous and the wicked.

(Isaiah 66:23-24 NKJV) And it shall come to pass That from one New Moon to another, And from one Sabbath to another,All flesh shall come to worship before Me," says the LORD. {24} "And they shall go forth and look Upon the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, And their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh."

Other Verses On Judgment

(Jeremiah 25:31 NKJV) A noise will come to the ends of the earth; For the LORD has a controversy with the nations; He will plead His case with all flesh. He will give those who are wicked to the sword,' says the LORD."

(Jeremiah 45:5 NKJV) "And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh," says the LORD. "But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go."' "

(Ezekiel 21:4-5 NKJV) "Because I will cut off both righteous and wicked from you, therefore My sword shall go out of its sheath again stallflesh from south to north, {5} "that allflesh may know that I, the LORD, have drawn My sword out of its sheath; it shall not return anymore."'

God is the God of All Flesh

God is not confined to any racial group. None of us are exempt from His judgment because we have chosen another belief system. He is the "God of all flesh", the God to whom all people must bow on the last day and who made the heavens and the earth and everything in them. He made all therefore, He owns all.

(Zechariah 2:13 NKJV) "Be silent,all flesh, before the LORD, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!" Not only His judgment but His blessings are poured out on all flesh.

(Joel 2:28 & Acts 2:17 NKJV) "And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.

And because He is the God of all flesh --the Almighty Creator, then nothing is impossible to Him. (Jeremiah 32:27 NKJV) "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?

All Flesh Shall See

When God acts sovereignly it is sometimes as a testimony to us as creatures that we are dealing with a powerful and glorious God; a God to be reckoned with. Speaking of a consuming fire He says..(Ezekiel 20:48 NKJV) "All flesh shall see that I, the LORD, have kindled it; it shall not be quenched."' What is true of His judgment is even more true of His salvation. (Luke 3:6 NKJV) And allflesh shall see the salvation of God.'

Jesus and All Flesh

Jesus took on flesh for us who are flesh. Yet His authority is transcendent. He is our sustenance, our life and our salvation. He has total dominion over us - but He uses His power to help us and to save us, not to destroy us.(John 17:2 NKJV) "as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.

The Last Verse In The Bible On "All Flesh"

(1 Peter 1:24-25 NKJV) because "All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, {25} But the word of the LORD endures forever." Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

Conclusion

We have covered all the verses - and the picture is of rebellious puny man and merciful Almighty God. God reminds us of our transience not to belittle us but to help us see His mercy. From the ark to the cross God's great desire is to save. God's power is a power that wants to do you good. There are times we are like insects flying hard into a solid glass window, slowly annihilating ourselves with our stupid determination. Turn around little insect! The door is open! Fly out! says the Lord.

If you have been as deeply moved by this study as I have then you will want to praise the God who has had so much mercy on us. I am still trembling with the thought of just how transient, how fragile, how utterly dependent I am on my Creator. I am just flesh, I cannot be born of myself, I cannot be sustained of myself, I cannot face God's justice myself. I need Jesus and I need Him with every atom of my flesh and every particle of my being. If you would like to express your feelings about your creatureliness to God in prayer try the one below.

O God I have been proud, I am like a little boy standing atop a sand castle and thinking I own the world. Your waves O Lord can terrify me, Your judgments can annihilate me - and I deserve them. I have stood defiant, proud little me, telling you the eternal God how to do things. I have been so, so wrong. O Lord forgive me. Forgive my rash lips and proud heart, forgive my anger and defiance, forgive my thoughts of great things when I am but a breath, a tiny puff of wind, a blade of grass that is here today and gone tomorrow. O Lord show me who I am that I may properly worship You. Amen

 

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