Say unto the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God” … He shall feed His flock like a Shepherd. Isaiah 40:9, 11 KJV
Say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” … Like a shepherd He will tend His flock. Isaiah 40:9,11 NASB
The comforting and thrilling message which commences the chapter has both a near and a future application. Isaiah was prophesying in light of the soon to be experienced captivity to Babylon. His words would have been read, perhaps 200 years later, by the captives, bringing hope and consolation that God would turn their captivity. It is also a reminder of the future and final restoration of the nation when their Messiah returns to not only rescue them from the strangle-hold of encircling enemies, but from their centuries-long oppression and dispersion.
The cry of pardon and the message of comfort are then followed by a message of preparation – a call to repentance. A people is prepared and made ready for the Lord. To this repentant nation, the message is given that they will see the glory of the Lord.
In the words of John in his Revelation we are told, “Every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him” (Rev 1:7). The words of John 19:37 will be fulfilled, “They shall look upon Him Whom they have pierced.”
Pardon and repentance are followed by a wondrous presentation. The cry goes forth to Jerusalem and then to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God” (Isa 40:9). The “gospel” of good news is heralded that their God has come with a strong arm. Full of might and power, He has come to rescue, redeem, and ransom His people. He has come to rule and reward (v 10).
The epitome of power and grandeur, He steps on the scene of human history, returning in His glory as promised. With breathless expectation the nation strains to see the coming conqueror. Attended by angels, emanating the inherent glory which is His, He appears to wondering eyes. And when they see Him, Isaiah says they will see One Who is inherently not only their great God, but their Shepherd!
In the very next verse, the next utterance by the evangelist-prophet reveals that the One Who has come is the Shepherd-Messiah. His character is unchanged; He is the Shepherd Who gave His life for the sheep. And, at His return, He will manifest His Shepherd heart to His ransomed nation. He will feed His flock like a shepherd. Grace will be blended with gentleness; majesty combined with meekness. The arm of infinite might will gather the lambs; the hand marked by Creatorial skill will feed the flock; the heart of infinite love will carry them in His bosom.
With consummate skill He will feed His flock, He will gather His lambs and draw them close to His heart, and He, like Jacob of old (Gen 33:13), will gently lead those with young. And as He feeds them from His hands, they will see the print of the nails; as He carries them in His bosom, they will view the spear-pierced side; as they follow His footsteps they will see the nail-scarred feet. They, like us, will never forget the Shepherd Who was smitten for the flock.
- Look at the places where it speaks of the Lord Jesus ruling and notice that the word in the original often means to “rule as a Shepherd” (Matt 2:6 for example).
- Notice in John 19:36, 37 that two Scriptures are mentioned and only one is said to be fulfilled. Why is that?