Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.Isaiah 40:11(NASB)
A parallel has often been drawn between the 66 chapters of Isaiah and the 66 books of the Bible, which demonstrate an astonishing similarity - where each chapter in Isaiah corresponds with its numerical equivalent in the Bible.
The theme of the first 39 chapters seems to thread its way from the formless earth and fallen man.. who is dead in sins, estranged from God and steeped in apostasy as recorded in the Old Testament - to the 27 New Testament chapters that follow, which deal with redemption and comfort, forgiveness and grace - and joyfully terminates with a new heaven and a new earth.
The first section has it focus on judgement which condemns sin and places the guilty sinner under God's condemnation. It stresses the importance of holiness and the need to punish man's sinfulness in order to satisfy the righteous requirements of God's perfect Law. It unfolds the need for a Kinsman-Redeemer Who is able to satisfy the righteous judgement of a just and holy God, and it prophesies of a coming Messiah - Who would be born from the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Judah and the house of David
And so we trace a tiny scarlet thread of hope of heaven from of our merciful God.. and the scattering of multiplied seeds of His grace amidst the greater theme of judgement, doom and despair. The unfolding story of redemption only comes to full fruition with the sacrificial death and glorious resurrection of Christ.. but New Testament truth is firmly rooted in the Old Testament scriptures.
Scripture records God comforting His people with tidings of great joy as the identity of the promised Messiah of Israel comes into clearer view. Isaiah announced that the prophesised King of the Jews.. was to be sent to save His people from their sin. He would be anointed of God and He would be the One Who would set up an everlasting kingdom as promised to their forefathers.. Abraham, Isaac, Israel and David.
This second section of Isaiah's prophecy starts with chapter 40, which seems to be the numerical equivalent of Matthew's gospel.. where Jesus is introduced to the Jewish nation as Israel's promised Messiah and rightful King. We discover that John the Baptist was identified as the last and greatest of the Old testament prophetic voices - who cried in the wilderness: prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight - for we read in Matthew that Jesus was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Zechariah and Jeremiah bemoaned the idol shepherds that would scatter God's sheep and slaughter the little flock.. and God Himself identified the rebellious and apostate nation of Israel as 'sheep without a shepherd'. Indeed the Lord God in His grace revealed Himself to David as the good Shepherd of Israel and promised that the coming Saviour would one day arise to shepherd His little flock in the strength of the Lord ..and in the majesty of the name of Almighty God.
And amidst Ezekiel's furious warnings of judgement upon the nation that had forsaken their God and broken their covenant with Him.. we discover a word of comfort.. when the nation will finally have one Shepherd; Who will cause the people to walk in God's ordinances and keep His statutes - indeed Moses himself foretold that from Jacob would arise the Shepherd of God's people, and He would be the Stone of Israel.
Here in Isaiah chapter 40 we hear of the promised Shepherd of Israel, Who will graciously tend His flock like a shepherd and gather the little lambs into His arm. Here we discover the One Who will carry them in His bosom and gently lead those that are nursing their young.
The God of the Old and New testaments is the same yesterday, today and forever. His Word stands fast forever and His truth never changes.. but as we journey through the 66 books of the Bible we see a beautiful unfolding of God's gracious character and plan of salvation.. as we trace the scarlet story of redemption through its precious pages.. The Shepherd of God's people is fully and finally revealed in the face of Jesus Christ - and the 66 chapters of Isaiah seem to be a beautiful unfolding of this never-ending story of GRACE.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word and the truth it contains. May I read, mark, learn and inwardly digest all that You would teach me and may I grow in grace and in a knowledge of You so that I may not be ashamed when I stand before Your throne, in Jesus name I pray, AMEN.