Isaiah 49:9-10, “They shall feed along the ways; on bare heights shall be their pasture; they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them.”
I was in Isaiah 47-49 this morning with my reading and was struck again by how true it is that Isaiah is something of a “fifth gospel.” This book provides so much of the prophetic and thematic material that informed the gospel writers especially–likely just because it is the one I’m most familiar with–in John’s gospel.
But this picture highlights a Johnannine connection with Isaiah that is found not so much in his gospel (though its there too) as in his final work, Revelation. In Isaiah 48:6-8, YHWH promise to do something radically new with His people, a new work of redemption that will be eschatological salvation for Israel (and all nations grafted in to her) and climactic glory for His name (48:9-11, 49:22-26, especially 26). Chapter 49 seems to be the main exposition of this great work of revelatory redemption, and right at the heart of it we find 49:8-13.
These verses are absolutely saturated with imagery and promises that anticipate the person and work of Christ, but the one I focused on in today’s picture is found in v.9-10:
“…they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them.”
Essentially, those who had been prisoners sitting in darkness (v.9a) are now well-cared for sheep following behind a compassionate shepherd on their way to the presence of the Lord. Notice that their provision, safety (and overall happiness) are founded upon WHO their shepherd is (“…FOR he who has pity on them will lead them…”). Specifically, Isaiah draws attention to the fact that this shepherd will be uniquely compassinate / merciful / marked by pity for His sheep….
Well, John picks this imagery up (under the inspiration of the Spirit), and reveals to us WHY this shepherd is so uniquely merciful and WHY His presence gives rise to the provision, safety and lasting joy of those following Him:
Revelation 7:16-17, “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd…”
Awesome….Their shepherd is a lamb, indeed, THE Lamb who was slain and rose again for His people. And it is by HIS blood that these captives have been called out of darkness and prison and into the presence of their Lord (Isaiah 49:9a + Revelation 7:14). He is the uniquely merciful Shepherd of God’s lambs because He Himself is the Lamb of God who suffered, died, and rose as substitute for His fold.
What an awesome God we have! And how amazing to see the beauty of the slain and risen Lamb reverberating through every page of scripture. We helpless sheep can have invincible hope today because the Lamb Himself–by whose blood we are washed and made free– is our Shepherd, and He Will guide us “to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes.”