“Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 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, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
(Revelation 7:15-17 ESV)
"Eternal shepherding. This is a pastoral scene. This is what we are being given by John, a pastoral scene of the final assembly of the saints and of the life beyond the grave. In other words, as we look back over our lives, we can speak of the bleak herbage, of the wilderness, the brook-less channels, the falling snows, the angry tempest, the roar of the ravening wolves, but they are no more. It’s a glorious picture of unbroken sunshine gleaming pastures, pellucid waters, living fountains for sheep. That’s what we are. We’re sheep. The satisfaction of the sheep. But notice the strange change of metaphor. It’s the lamb who shepherds. It’s the lamb who shepherds. Isn’t that strange? The lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall shepherd them.
"So, the lamb is a shepherd. Lambs are shepherded, normally, but this lamb is different. He shepherds. But the fact that he’s a lamb, my Christian friend, identifies him even more closely with us. We are lambs and he’s a lamb. Just as we say we are men, but he’s the God-man. He’s one of us. And because he’s one of us he knows us. He knows our needs and because he’s the God man he could supply our needs.
"And the fact that he is called Lamb means that there is a continual remembrance of the saints of God of the fact that he is a lamb as slain, as we read in chapter 5. Stems the line of the tribe of Judah as a lamb and as slain. He never loses that capacity.
"And they know the joy of continual sustaining. They are led to fountains of waters, not a fountain but fountains, one succeeding another that is an infinite progression in joys and felicities from pasture to pasture from fountain to fountain, variety and diversity in heaven, and yet he feeds, he leads, he wipes away the tears. There’s no heaven without our Lord even though it should be filled with archangels, it would not be a place I would want to be if Jesus Christ were somewhere else. He’s the one to whom we owe our eternal salvation. And I love that final word. 'God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.' The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want, we say. This is the final fulfillment of that great text."
-- S. Lewis Johnson, "An Interlude of Encouragement", in his series on the book of Revelation.
Painting above is "Shepherd and Sheep" (c. 1880) by Anton Mauve, at the Cincinnati Art Museum. In the public domain.