They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.…
The imagery is Oriental. To a dweller in the East, the first essential is protection from the heat of the sun, and from the radiating heat that pours forth in the evening; the one blasting the energies at noonday, the other enervating the spirits at the coming of the night; and then waters to drink in a thirsty land.
1. Let us, then, enlarge our thought, and say, The life of the dead is a protected life. Think of the great multitude that stands before God to-day. Think of the little children brought into this world all warped and twisted, so that they never knew how to play. Think of the young that have grown up with the promise of joy, only to see the cup of happiness dashed from their lips. Think of the lives that have been misunderstood — the lives that have gone on day by day doing their duty, sacrificing themselves, seeking only for what was noble and pure and of good report, and all the time misunderstood, unappreciated, without sympathy, left to bear the burden and the heat of the day alone. Think of those who have lain for years and years on the bed of sickness. Think of the women that have borne great burdens — burdens not only of misapprehension, of misunderstanding, but of cruel brutality. Think of the multitudes that have risen day by day only to labour and toil, and have lain down at night too feeble, too weary, too much oppressed, for any thought of God, crushed by the burden and the labour of life. Now the word of St. John is that from all these things they are protected. A life free from care and responsibility, and the burden and heat of the day. This is the first thought that St. John would impress upon us in regard to the life of the dead. Nevermore can those things that are so hard for us light on them. All Souls' Day should be full of joy for the protected life of the dead. But that is not all. "They hunger no more; and the Lamb doth lead them," etc.
2. A life of satisfaction; a life in which every wish and aspiration of the soul is gratified. What a life is that! I like to think of the great multitude of God's children who have entered into that new world and into that new life, seeking such different things because their needs are so different. One soul seeks only for rest; and that is given it. Another soul needs peace and harmony after the long struggle to make peace on earth. Another has been frightened, and longs for the sense of safety, and that is given. Another has all through life been thirsting for the sight of the Eternal Beauty, which no picture, no statue, no flaming of the sky at sunset, could adequately express. "We shall see," said the prophet long ago, speaking for these artistic souls — "we shall see the King in His beauty." Others have found the satisfaction of their souls in "the sound of the harpers playing on the harps." The great multitude whose souls have been stirred by music, and yet in the most glorious symphony, in the noblest chorus, have always felt the human discord that underlay the harmony — there they are satisfied, there the perfect harmony of the Eternal Life soothes, invigorates, and inspires them. Others have laid hold of the tree of the knowledge of life. All through life they hungered for knowledge, and yet all getting of knowledge was the getting also of sorrow. There it is changed. There the tree of life is seen to be the tree of knowledge. Drinking deep of the Divine life, filling themselves with the life of the Lamb of God, these souls have found that not through knowledge did they gain life, but that through life they have gained knowledge. Oh, how wonderful it is to think of this vast expansion of humanity, as the flower expands that has been transplanted into a more genial clime! It is good to think of the lives that are satisfied to-day, as they stand before the throne of God, and are led by the Lamb to the living fountains of waters. The life satisfied; the life rejoicing in the knowledge of the thing that it has dreamed of as impossible; the life rejoicing in the knowledge that every hope that has shot across its sky was the witness of a reality which God had prepared for them that love Him. Full salvation. Sin has fallen away like some filthy garment, and the soul stands in the presence of the King, and the glory of the King clothes it, and it finds its satisfaction in beholding His beauty. And how has all this come to pass? "The Lamb shall lead them forth." The spirit of Jesus is typified by the Lamb. The spirit of perfect sacrifice is meant by the Lamb. And that spirit has entered into the lives of these men and women and children. It is the new spirit that has taken possession of them in the new life that has made the protection and the eternal satisfaction. It opens up before us the thought of the endless progress of the dead. They are being led by the Lamb. And now turn back from this picture of the life of the dead to that other one with which we are so much more familiar, which we may call the death of the living. We are not protected. On us the sun does light and the heat does burn; with us the sorrow and sin, and suffering and pain, and misunderstanding and cruel suspicion, and unkindness and weariness, and discouragement and hopelessness exist. How sad it all is! How dark the picture is, as compared with the glory that is revealed by the other! And I think it is because of this picture, that men so often ask themselves, Things being as they are, how is it possible that the dead should have perfect joy? Now St. John entered into that mystery. And he has not pretended that their joy is complete. He did believe that their life was protected. He did believe that they were being satisfied day by day, because they were following the Lamb. But he adds, "God shall wipe away all tears from off their faces." Tears! Yes, tears in that glorious life — tears must be there, because of the incompleteness of human life. It is inevitable that they should sorrow. It is no less inevitable that their sorrow should be comforted of God. Only standing before the throne of God there comes the eternal comfort that must always come with the remembrance of power and wisdom and goodness. And so their tears are wiped away. It is not a life without sorrow. It is a life comforted of God. And what is their word to us? It is — Follow the Lamb. Strive to have the spirit of Jesus Christ. For they that have that spirit have now the foretaste of the life of the dead. FollOw the Lamb, for in following Him and striving to have His spirit there comes the satisfaction that the soul can find in no other way; and all the joy and beauty and glory of life is found to have its interpretation and its full realisation in the beauty of the life of Jesus Christ.
(Leighton Parks, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.