God’s Promises to the Faithful

by Matthew W. Bassford

No matter how many times I read the Bible, I always find something new in it. Nor are these discoveries subtle or inconsequential. Often, they are magnificent!

So it was with this week’s Bible reading. I’m familiar with Revelation. I’ve taught it several times and read it many more. However, never before had I paid attention to Revelation 7:16-17.

Part of this is formatting. The NASB95, which is the translation I keep in my head, sets those two verses in prose. Yesterday, however, I read out of the CSB, and it divides the text into poetic parallels. Wow! What a difference! (This, by the way, is a great reason to read from multiple translations. Different renderings and even different formatting can help us see different things)

Anyway, here’s the way the CSB reads:

“They will no longer hunger;
they will no longer thirst;
the sun will no longer strike them,
nor will any scorching heat.
For the Lamb who is at the center of the throne will shepherd them;
he will guide them to springs of the waters of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation has the reputation of being forceful rather than beautiful, but that’s purely gorgeous! Contextually, this applies to the multitude that has come out of the great tribulation, but it is a promise for all Christians to cherish.

Indeed, it’s a promise that I cherish. I suffer now, but I know that God never has promised any Christian that life on earth will be free from suffering. In John 16:33, He promises the opposite. Thus, my life now gives me no reason to doubt His faithfulness.

Rather, I endure, and I anticipate the fulfillment of His promises in the life to come. On that day, I will neither hunger nor thirst. God will provide for my most basic needs, and He will fulfill all the others too. Likewise, neither the sun nor scorching heat will strike me. God will shelter me from all external oppression.

The next verse explains why I will receive all these blessings. I love the image here! In this life, human shepherds shepherd sheep. In the life to come, the Lamb will shepherd us.

As with the divine shepherd of Psalm 23, He will lead us to water, but the spring to which He will bring us flows with the water of life. I long for this so much that it hurts! My illness is incurable and terminal. I often have thought about what it would be like to go to Jesus in the days of His ministry and be healed even of this. However, the day will come when He will heal me completely, body and soul.

That day will be as free from sorrow as it is from sickness. God Himself will dry my tears, as He will dry all the tears of the righteous. I struggle to comprehend this. How can it be that we no longer will be grieved even by the memory of sorrow? Perhaps the answer lies in 2 Corinthians 4:17. As we dwell in the midst of God’s glory, every earthly affliction will fade into insignificance.

This hope is the only thing that sustains me or could sustain me, on my journey. Without the promises of God, I am a pitiable wretch. With them, suffering only sharpens my focus on my reward.

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