Sunday, 20 December 2020
for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17
In the previous verse, the first half of Isaiah 49:10 was cited. It being where verse 7:16 was derived from. That continues now in verse 17 which finds its parallel in the second half of Isaiah 49:10 –
“For He who has mercy on them will lead them,
Even by the springs of water He will guide them.”
Along with this, comes the fulfillment of another blessing first penned in Isaiah 25:8 –
“He will swallow up death forever,
And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces.”
Understanding the original source of the words, and remembering that the context is speaking of the tribulation saints standing before the throne of God, the elder speaking to John continues his words, saying, “for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne.”
The Lamb, as previously noted, is Christ Jesus in His sacrificial role. It is He who died the necessary substitutionary death for humanity. In His sinless perfection, He could replace Adam as their fallen head, if they simply accept what He has done by faith. These tribulation saints have done so, and they have been redeemed by Him. Further, He has not only redeemed them, but the elder says He “will shepherd them.”
This is a paradoxical statement. It is lambs that need a shepherd. In fact, they are almost completely dependent on being shepherded. Without a shepherd, they are helpless to defend themselves from the many challenges that other animals can often face and prevail over. And yet, this Lamb has prevailed over all such challenges, including the greatest one of all – death. In His victory over death, He is the Lamb that is qualified to shepherd those of His own flock.
So capable is He to do so, that the elder then quotes Isaiah (as noted above), and says, “and lead them to living fountains of waters.” The idea of “living waters” is that of running streams and of springs that come up from the earth, and so on. The water is fresh and cold and invigorating instead of stagnant, salty, or muddied. The symbolism is that of ever-flowing life, and thus everlasting life. This is what Jesus spoke of in John 4 –
“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’” John 4:10
It is then added to by the Lord in John 7 –
“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37-39
It is the Spirit that gives life. These people, because of faith in the work of Jesus Christ, have received the Spirit. In them is found the true fountains of living water which is renewed life, eternal fellowship with God, and eternal joy in the presence of the Lamb. In this state, the elder finishes the verse (and the chapter) with, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
In Isaiah 25, this was attributed to the Lord God, Yehovah Elohim. Jesus is the incarnate Yehovah, and He is the Lord God. It is He who will remove all sorrow and wipe away every tear. Of these words, Albert Barnes says –
“Of all the negative descriptions of heaven, there is no one perhaps that would be better adapted to produce consolation than this. This is a world of weeping – a vale of tears. Philosophers have sought a brief definition of man, and have sought in vain. Would there be any better description of him, as representing the reality of his condition here, than to say that he is one who weeps? Who is there of the human family that has not shed a tear? Who that has not wept over the grave of a friend; over his own losses and cares; over his disappointments; over the treatment he has received from others; over his sins; over the follies, vices, and woes of his fellow-men?”
Man walks through this veil of tears, but God offers us to be delivered to a canopy of joy. It is accessible to any and to all who will simply accept what He has done through the giving of His Son.
Life application: The shepherd symbolism was anticipated by David in the 23rd Psalm, and it was claimed by Jesus in John chapter 10 when He said, “I am the good Shepherd.” Likewise, the living waters also are fulfilled in the Person of Jesus as noted above. Because of Jesus, we will go out and find good and safe pasture in a land of plenty.
The green grass will be vibrant from the abundant waters they receive. In that day, we will be comforted by the pure and perfect love of God, and He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. These promises come to us, not because we deserve these things, but because God is gracious and merciful to those who accept the finished work of Jesus Christ, trusting not in their own deeds, but in His work alone. Be sure to not fail the test. The answer to our dilemma, and to being accepted into God’s paradise, is to receive what He has done through JESUS!
O God, how great You are! Who could ever imagine the wondrous promises of Your word while living in this fallen world? We have fears, we have hunger and thirst, and we have pains and sorrows. But You have promised that this order of things will someday be replaced with complete and perfect joy! Thank You for the surety we have of that coming day. Amen.