Isaiah 55:1-7 ESV
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3 Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. 4 Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. 5 Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the LORD your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you. 6 “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
We have been journeying through the Old Testament prophets for a few months now. We are not reading everything they wrote. We just want to get a glimpse of what drove them – what they were passionate about. That’s why I call this series “The heart of the Prophets.” Another way of saying it is we want to know what made the prophets tick. That expression comes from clockwork – the intricate machinery that is found when you open the back of a clock or watch. It’s the hidden substance that explains the outward style. It’s the reason for the function.
Isaiah’s lifetime overlapped two of our historical periods. He lived to see Israel fall to Assyria, and knew that Judah’s time was coming as well. The period of time that Isaiah saw was even broader than that. He not only predicted the Babylonian captivity of Judah, but he predicted the return from the captivity as well. Lots of people who have studied the book of Isaiah insist that there is no way that one man could have known all that. It has been popular to divide Isaiah into two or three parts, imagining that it really has more than one author. I don’t think that was the case. I think that God – knowing that his people were going to have to wait a long time for relief from their captivity – provided them with glimpses into their future to help them persevere.
Isaiah’s audience was varied as well. He spoke against both the northern and southern kingdoms. After Israel fell, he continued to plead with Judah, but knew that they too would be defeated by Babylon. He also spoke out against the nations in power, because he knew God was only allowing them to conquer as his instruments of punishment. Isaiah’s ultimate audience was the world. His prophecies are the most quoted in the New Testament. What made Isaiah tick was the same thing that makes God tick. He was always warning the disobedient to repent, and encouraging God’s people with messages of comfort about coming blessings in the future.
There is a problem that recurs throughout the prophets and is especially seen here in Isaiah 55. That problem is that God is the answer to all our needs, but we fail to pursue him. Isaiah put it this way: “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). This is the problem of the limited time offer. If we had an eternity to decide whether or not God’s way may be the right way, then we could afford to waste a few decades on our own selfish pursuits. But we do not have an eternity, or a few decades. What makes God tick and what made Isaiah tick is that there is a clock ticking. When that clock reaches midnight, time is up. When time is up, Cinderella, you will not turn into a pumpkin. You will be permanently destroyed!
Isaiah appeals to his people and God appeals to his planet. They are both saying the same thing. You have been doing things your own way and it has left you hungry and thirsty. You have spent all of your money but you have still not found the satisfaction you are longing for. What you need to to is forsake your way, and your thoughts. Come to the LORD and he will forgive. Come to the LORD in repentance and he will provide you with food that satisfies and water that quenches your thirst. Jesus spoke once of the bread of God who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. The people said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” The only way to Christ is on our knees.
Isaiah calls on the people to remember what God did for the Shepherd king: David. God made a covenant with David and turned him into three things:
1)David was a witness. His life was a testimony of what God can do through a man who follows him from the heart.
2)David was a leader. People chose to follow him because they saw God at work in his life.
3)David was a commander. His words were important – so much so that people wrote them down and obeyed them.
Do you know someone like that? God is calling you and me to be like that.
Isaiah calls on the people to imagine themselves as being kings, like David. Notice verse 5 again: “Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the LORD your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.” Who is the”you” of verse 5? It is the “everyone who thirsts” of verse 1. In other words, each of us has the potential to be a David in God’s kingdom. The only thing God asks of us is that we forsake our own ways and come to him.
I’m sure that in Isaiah’s time the people often said “It sure would be great if we had a king like David again.” Isaiah is telling them that God could do for them what he did for David.
Evangelist D.L. Moody was once speaking with a British evangelist named Henry Varley. Varley said “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in and by the man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.” Those words burned in Moody’s heart. Moody said “I will try my utmost to be that man.” By God’s grace, Moody became such a man. I want to invite you to join me in seeking to be that kind of person as well. You have been hungering and thirsting your entire life. Give your body what it is truly thirsting for.
LORD, I present my life to you today, and so do all those following me in this prayer. We choose to forsake our ways and our thoughts, and follow you. In Jesus name. Amen.