The Bible is full of images that touch our emotions as well as our minds. The Lord is sensitive to the fact that we are bent towards the material. We need help to enter into the invisible, spiritual and eternal. So, images are His gracious gift to us.
The imagery in my favorite motherhood verse moves me.
“He will tend His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will gather them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11).
What an amazing word picture. Our Good-Shepherd-God carries our children in His arms. He slows His pace to walk with the pregnant woman or the woman herding toddlers. His tender care extends to the flock. How affectionately He tends, gathers and leads.
This morning I considered this verse in relation to verses that precede and succeed it. The tenderness of verse eleven is bookended by striking imagery of another sort. In the PRECEDING verse (Isaiah 40:10) the Lord’s arm is a mighty, ruling arm. Perhaps even a warrior-arm. He comes in in judgment and brings salvation.
In the verses FOLLOWING verse eleven (Isaiah 40:12-17), the grandeur of the Lord thunders around us. The poetry is exquisite. He measures the waters in the hollow of His hand and marks out the heavens using His own hand as a measure. He weighs and measures the earth, hills and mountains. Nobody teaches or counsels Him. The nations are a drop in the bucket to Him. Like dust on a scale, insignificant compared to all He is. He is beyond comprehension. Glorious. A wonder. So, He reveals Himself in figurative language that we might know His majesty and His greatness.
The muscular arm that controls eternal outcomes cradles our little ones. He tucks them in the crook of His arm and secures them near His beating heart. Though the nations are a “drop in the bucket” to Him, He knows the state of His flock. The Hand that holds the waters of the earth and measures the heavens between His thumb and little finger (a span) softly and figuratively sweeps the hair from your child’s forehead.
In the gospels beautiful imagery is translated into reality. Parents bring their children to Jesus for Him to touch them. In Mark 10:13 and Luke 18:15 the Greek word touch has meanings reaching beyond physical touch. As stunning as it is to think of God in flesh physically touching a child, the word has richer implications. The idea is to “attach oneself to” and comes from the prime root “to fasten to, to set on fire, to kindle, to light.”
This imagery helps shape my prayers for the generations coming after me “Lord Jesus, touch our children and grand-children. Attach them to Yourself. Fasten them to You, heart and soul. Set them on fire with Your truth and Presence. Kindle their spirits. Light them from within by Your Spirit. And Lord—thank You for sacred pictures that lift our senses above what we can see. Amen.”