Of course, a lamb is a young sheep, a shepherd is someone who looks after sheep. So it may seem an unlikely choice of words when Revelation 7:17 describes Christ both as the lamb and the shepherd.
Actually, this is not the only place where the Bible contains such a description. Isaiah 53:7 describes Christ as a lamb that suffers silently. The previous verse, Isaiah 53:6, describes us as God’s sheep who have wandered. John 1:29 calls Christ ‘the lamb of God’; in John 10:11. Christ calls himself ‘the good shepherd’.
The explanation of all these passages is not difficult. In these passages, and through the Book of Revelation, Christ is called the Lamb to remind the reader about Christ’s death. He was like the lambs that died as sacrifices (gifts to God), for example in Exodus 12:1-13. Like those lambs, he died so that God’s people could live in a right relationship with God.
Christ, God’s Son, obeyed God the Father completely when he died in that way. Because Christ was so humble, God has given him the greatest honour (Philippians 2:6-11; Revelation 1:5). So Christ is the ruler, or shepherd, of all God’s people. (The word that we translate as ‘ruler’ in Revelation 2:27 is the same word as ‘shepherd’ in Revelation 7:17.)
Christ promises to give to his people living water, in other words, water that gives life (John 4:10-14; Ezekiel 47:1-12). He will give them life that never ends (John 3:16), as a free gift (Revelation 22:17; Isaiah 55:1). He is constantly leading and guiding them, like the shepherds in Israel who led their sheep (John 10:4; Psalm 23). He is bringing them to God’s city, the New Jerusalem, where they will never suffer again (21:4).
Next part: Silence in heaven (Revelation 8:1)
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© 2016, Keith Simons.