We return to the “Great Invitation” from Isaiah 55:1-3. Today, let us take a more considered and studious look at God’s own words in this passage. And perhaps at the end of the devotion, let’s even dare to ask Him to give us some measure of His own passion for the gospel that He has called us to proclaim.
Isaiah 55:1-3 AKJV
55 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters,
and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat;
yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread?
and your labour for that which satisfieth not?
hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good,
and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
3 Incline your ear, and come unto me:
hear, and your soul shall live;
and I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
even the sure mercies of David.
The Word of God for the Children of God. In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
First, take a look at . . .
1. GOD’S EARNESTNESS.
I see this in the very first word of this passage—the word that’s translated, “Ho!” (v. 1). https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h1945/kjv/wlc/0-1/
In the original language, it’s the Hebrew interjection—”Hoy!” And it’s a word that serves a whole lot of purposes in Scripture. In some places, it is used as a lamentation—that is, as the verbal expression of someone’s own sorrow over something: “Ah!” or “Alas!” In other places, it is used as a way of expressing sympathy or compassion over the sorrowful situation of someone else: “Woe!”
But sometimes—as in the case of our devotional passage today—it’s clearly meant to serve as a bold, attention-getting cry: something like, “Hey!”, or “Yo!”, or—as it is among some people groups even today—”Hoy!”
And let me suggest two other interesting things about this. First of all, think of that last, very practical function of this word—as an attention-getter.
Does not this let’s us undeniably know that God is not particularly shy about the gospel? He is not indifferent as to whether or not people hear it or receive it.
The gospel is a wonderful invitation from the living God to enter into eternal life; and without hesitation, He shouts it loudly, clearly! “Hey! Yo! Over here! Attention! I have something I want you to hear—something you truly need!”
And second, think of the emotion that’s loaded into this word. Some Hebrew scholars have suggested that we should also see God’s use of this word in this passage as expressing the full range of its undeniable emotional implications.
God “feels” great emotional pain and sorrow over the condition of those who have been separated from Him because of their sin—as if He cries out, “Alas!”.
He also knows the grievous eternal destiny that sin has put people into; and that unless by His grace they receive the redemption He has provided in Christ, they would be eternally lost and damned—as if He now also cries out, “Woe!”
And these things motivate Him to shout, in great boldness, so that they might hear what He has done to rescue them, and that they might heed His offer of salvation—as if He likewise also cries out, “Hey! Give Me your attention!”
The Bible tells us God is not willing that any lost man or woman perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). And so, He is deeply emotional about it! He is earnest about it. He is forceful about it! He is willing to be bold and loud in declaring it! He is compelling His spokesmen John the Baptist to about 700 plus years later verbally and physically point to Jesus and cry out, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
And dear brothers and sisters of mine; how could you and I be indifferent over something which God Himself announces with a loud “Ho!”? I fervently pray; May our Creator God give US something of that earnestness with which He Himself proclaims the offer of Good News to this, OUR lost and dying world!
Another thing we see in this ‘gospel offer’ is . . .
2. GOD’S INCLUSIVENESS.
Look who God’s loud call is directed to—”Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters . . .” (v. 1). It doesn’t matter whether they are high in standing among men, or lower than the lowest of people. It doesn’t matter who they may be, where they may have come from, or even what they may have done in the past. The only requirement is that they are “thirsty” for the “waters” of spiritual refreshment that God offers to the parched soul. They—whoever they may be—are welcomed to come and drink.
Whenever I think of this invitation, I think of the story of Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. She came to draw physical water from a well; and Jesus sat by the well and asked her for a drink. She was surprised by this; because the Jewish people had no dealings with Samaritans like her. And yet, Jesus told her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” (John 4:10). He went on to explain to her; (John 4:13-14 AMP)
13 Jesus answered her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. 14 But whoever drinks the water that I give him will never be thirsty again. But the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water [satisfying his thirst for God] welling up [continually flowing, bubbling within him] to eternal life.”
What a wonderful thing!—”living water”!—”a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life”!
In another passage, Jesus stood before the people, cried out; (John 7:38 AMP)
38 He who believes in Me [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Me], as the Scripture has said, ‘From his innermost being will flow continually rivers of living water.’”
We’re told that “this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive” (John 7:39). And did you notice, in the passages we’ve just looked at, who may receive this water? “Whoever . . .” “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink!” “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters . . .”
What a gift of God’s grace such thirst is—to so thirst that you come to Him for the waters of spiritual refreshment! If anyone thirsts for the waters that God calls us to, it’s because God has graciously given them the spiritual thirst that longs to be quenched. And they—whoever they may be—are invited to come.
This is a gospel call that you and I should really be excited about! It’s the most inclusive invitation which could ever be given unto anyone and everyone—the invitation to take up the greatest offer that could ever be made, whoever it may be who hears it! May God give us more of His very own zeal in proclaiming it!
Here’s another aspect that we see in this ‘gospel call’ . . .
3. GOD’S GRACE.
God says, “And you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (v. 1).
Here, God shifts metaphors. It’s not just the waters of spiritual refreshment that He offers to the thirsty soul. Now, He offers good food to the spiritually hungry. He offers the invitation to come to a table, as it were, that is stocked with spiritual wine for joy and spiritual milk for the nourishment.
And it does not matter one tiny bit that the one hearing the invitation has no money. These things are offered to be taken “without money” and “without price” (or “without cost”). Those who have nothing to offer or to give in trade are still, forever more, without partisanship, invited to “come, buy and eat”.
But isn’t that still a strange thing to say to someone?—to come and “buy” what is without price when they themselves have not one dime to their names? How can you “buy” when you have no money? I suggest that we’re offered to come and “buy” what costs us nothing—not because there is no price, but because the price is already fully paid on our behalf by Another! As Jesus Himself said,
John 6:51 Amplified Bible
51 I am the Living Bread that came down out of heaven. If anyone eats of this Bread [believes in Me, accepts Me as Savior], he will live forever. And the Bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh (body).”
The most satisfying food which anyone can eat is that which God gives.
And it’s offered freely to those who can do nothing to buy it for themselves through their own works. Those who have “no money” are invited to “come, buy and eat” the most sumptuous fare—”without money and without price”.
It’s already been purchased for us by Jesus Himself; and it’s offered to us as an undeserved gift of God’s grace.
God is zealous about offering “wine and milk”, free of charge to the destitute souls of lost people around us, that He would pay the price for it with His own precious Son.
How then could we not be likewise zealous to proclaim this offer ourselves?
Notice also . . .
4. GOD’S COMPASSION (v. 2).
I believe that His heart breaks over the desperate confusion of lost men and women, who try vainly to fill the empty place in their souls with all the wrong things. As He offers good food to them free of charge, you get a sense of how His heart yearns that they take the offer. “Why do you spend money for what is not bread,” He asks; “and your wages for what does not satisfy?” (v. 2).
I believe God truly grieves to see people wandering around desperately in their lostness, with an aching void in their soul. They are truly, legitimately ‘hungry’ within. But they wander from this false philosophy or religious practice to that; or from this relationship to that; or from this worldly pleasure to that; or from this material possession to that—always spending all their efforts and energies trying to find the one sure thing that fills the God-shaped void in their hearts.
And yet, He stands as it were with His arms outstretched to them and says, “Why do you constantly throw all your efforts and energies away? Why do you keep searching around in vain? Why spend your money for that which is not bread? Why spend all your hard-earned wages for that which does not satisfy?
“I have true bread and wine to offer you free of charge! I have abundant waters to offer you that will truly refresh your soul! Why do you keep wandering? Why should you keep refusing it? Why do you keep wasting? Why? Why? Why?”
When I think of this, I again think of another thing that we are told in the Bible about the Lord Jesus. We’re told that He went about preaching in different cities and villages; teaching people, preaching the gospel of the kingdom to them, and healing them of every sickness and disease. It says, (Matthew 9:36-38 AMP)
36 When He saw the crowds, He was moved with compassion and pity for them, because they were dispirited and distressed, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is [indeed] plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”
Dear brothers and sisters of mine;
How do we NOT dare to ask God to give us even a portion of His own brokenness of heart for lost and needy souls; and to help us feel the compassion He feels as He looks at their disparate wanderings and their failed attempts at spiritual satisfaction? How do we NOT dare to ask Him to help us feel as He feels toward their efforts to grasp after everything but the one thing they need the most?
How restless we should ALL be to proclaim the gospel of their salvation if He did!
In light of this, consider next . . .
5. GOD’S PLEASURE (v. 2).
God does not want lost people to wander around aimlessly and fruitlessly. He doesn’t want to see them spending all that they are and have on false gods and false religious practices and false philosophies. He says, “Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance”—or, as it is in the King James Version, “in fatness” (v. 2).
“Fatness”, in the older sense of the word, referred to the choicest and most delightful of food. And God is here inviting those who are truly hungry in their innermost being to “listen carefully” to Him—that is to hear His voice, and truly ‘hear’ the offer He is making toward them—and to eat what is truly good for them unto the full delight and satiation of the inner-most being!
In other words, it is God’s good pleasure—in His gracious gospel call—to invite even the most neediest of sinners to come to Him and truly become “satisfied”. (1 Chronicles 29:16-19, Psalm 16:8-11, Psalm 36:7-10, Psalms 147 and 149)
I wonder if you and I have ever seriously thought about how sinful people shun the gospel out of an over exaggerated, irrational, “phobic” fear God will take from them what little happiness they genuinely believe they have in sin. And do you and I begin to realize that the problem is not that they want to be happy?
It is absolutely a good thing to want to be happy! Rather, their problem is that they don’t want to be happy enough! God wants more happiness for them than they want for themselves! 100% Infinite JOY! (Philippians 4:4-9, 10-20 AMP)
He isn’t saying, “Listen carefully to Me, and eat dry bread crust and swamp water. Come to Me, and let your soul suffer and be burdened and miserable.” What a blasphemous thought! And yet, that’s what so many people think!
Rather, He’s saying, “Abandon all your ‘dead-end’ searches for happiness through sensuality, or material possessions, or useless grasps after power.
“These things will never in your lifetime make you happy. True happiness, true contentment, and true satisfaction is My free gift to you.” “Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in My abundance!”
If we only saw things as God saw them—if we only understood that it’s God’s great pleasure to offer people the fullest experience of abundant delight forever through a covenanted connection, Koinonia relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ—then we would be more zealous to proclaim Jesus to them!
And let us also diligently and prayerfully consider that He also says to the lost sinner, “Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live” (v. 3).
And here, in respect to His undeniable proclamation of the gospel,
I thoroughly believe we all ought to be seeing, proclaiming and testifying to . . .
6. GOD’S LONGING (v. 3).
When I read those words, I think of a passage from Ezekiel 33:10-11 AMP.
10 “Now as for you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus you have said, “Truly our transgressions and our sins are on us, and we are rotting away because of them; how then can we live?”’ 11 Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back (change your way of thinking), turn back [in repentance] from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’
It would be hard to find a more passionate expression of God’s longing for the lost sinner then what we read in that passage. Ezekiel was told to tell the people what they say in His hearing, “If our transgression and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?” (v. 10).
What a desperate situation! What hopelessness.
And yet, God wanted Ezekiel to tell them that He says,
Ezekiel 33:11 The Message
11 “Tell them, ‘As sure as I am the living God, I take no pleasure from the death of the wicked. I want the wicked to change their ways and live. Turn your life around! Reverse your evil ways! Why die, Israel?’
That’s God’s longing: “Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live.”
He takes no delight in the death of the sinner! He desires that every last broken, wounded, fallen man or woman live! He 100% paid the price so they could live!
And in His proclamation of the gospel, it’s almost as if He grabs hold of the lost man or woman by the shoulders and says, “Look! I want you to live! But you cannot live apart from Me! You cannot live unless you come to Me! Incline your ear to Me! Hear My words! Come to Me; and surely your soul shall live forever!”
May it be that our longing for the lost is like God’s own longing! May it be that we become zealous to preach the gospel to them that says, “Listen! Hear! Live!”
So far in all this, we have seen something of God’s zeal in His own offer of the gospel. We have seen His earnestness in that He boldly cries out to be heard.
We have seen His inclusiveness in that He says, “Everyone come!” We have seen His grace in that He invites the poor of spirit, “Buy without money!”
We have seen His compassion in that He encourages the hungry soul, “Eat what is good!” We’ve seen His pleasure toward the needy soul in that He says, “Be satisfied!” And we’ve seen His own heart’s longing for the lost in that He says, “Hear and live!”
May it become our own fervent prayer that we likewise become so gripped with these things that we ourselves, without hesitation, without evasion, proclaim the gospel to the lost people around us with a fuller measure of His own zeal!
But in closing, there’s one more absolutely essential someone to consider;
and that’s . . .
7. GOD’S SON (v. 3).
He makes a promise to those who hear His call, and who come to Him for life. He says, “And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—the sure mercies of David”.
This is something that would have been particularly meaningful to the Jewish people. David was their greatest king; and God had made the greatest promise to him that any king on earth had ever received. God had told him,
“When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13). He promised, “And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever” (v. 17).
God promised David that a King would come from his lineage Whose throne and whose kingdom would be “established forever”. This points ahead to Jesus.
It’s in Jesus that “an everlasting covenant” of “the sure mercies of David” would be made with those who heard and responded to God’s gospel call.
The Apostle Paul spoke of this when he said, (Acts 13:32-34 AMP)
32 And we are bringing you the good news of the promise made to our fathers (ancestors), 33 that God has completely fulfilled this promise to our children by raising up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are My Son; today I have begotten (fathered) You.’ 34 And [as for the fact] that He raised Him from the dead, never again to return to decay [in the grave], He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David [those blessings and mercies that were promised to him].’
All the promises of God for the salvation of lost men and women are fulfilled in Jesus—who died for our sins and was raised again for our justification. Eternal life, and eternal joy, are all wrapped up in Him; and “all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20). And He is very zealous to present His beloved Son to the world as our Redeemer.
How could, in such a state of being as our world communities are, we not look to such a wonderful Savior, not also be zealous to proclaim Him to this world?
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Let us now PRAY,
Lord, the eyes of all look to You in hope; and You give them what they need. You open Your hand and your heart, satisfy the hunger, thirst of every living thing.
We, too, turn to You again, longing to be filled—to eat of the Bread of Life, to drink from Your life-giving streams, to taste Your goodness and live.
May the time we spend together in Your presence nourish our hearts and minds (Psalm 34:8 -10); may it strengthen our connection and relationship with You, and renew our commitment to live in this world as Your faithful disciples.
For You alone are God, the Creator, the Author, Source and Sustainer of life.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.