Invitation to Covenantal Promises (55:1-5)
Isaiah 54 described the covenant of peace that God had established through the sacrificial offering of his servant, Jesus. Through Jesus we can have peace with God and be accounted as righteous. So now an exclamation is given so that people will pay attention to the speaker. “Ho!” or “Pay attention!” Everyone who thirsts needs to listen to the offer that is being made. There is water that is available. “Come to the waters” highlights the existence of the need and the ample provision available. Before we can move forward we must recognize that all of us are thirsty. We may try to suppress this thirst. We try to ignore the thirst. But the emptiness that every human experiences is the thirst. The desire to understand our lives, why we are here, and how we can be happy and satisfied is the thirst. We mask this thirst by drinking the false waters of the world. We try sinful behaviors thinking these things will quench the thirst we have. There is a desire in us for something lasting, something deeper, and something satisfying.
This hunger that God gives us is a grace of God yet also a danger. It is the grace of God so that we will continue to seek after him who truly satisfies. However, the danger is that we will try to satisfy this hunger and thirst with all the wrong things. Now the invitation given is amazing. The call is even to those who do not have money. Poverty is no barrier. You can receive what you need. God is offering what we need for life. “Come, buy wine and milk.” These are the necessities of life and picture the blessings of God in the scriptures. God is inviting us to come and he will give us the life we need, which is the rich blessing of God to us. Come and have the all-satisfying waters without money and without price.
Now God asks us a question that we must consider carefully. Why are we wearing ourselves out for the things in this life that do not satisfy? We are looking for satisfaction in all the wrong places. Stop wasting your time! Stop wearying yourself! We are looking at the wrong things for satisfaction. You are not going to find it in sex, relationships, money, power, occupation, career, possessions, marriage, children, other people, or anything else you think might be the answer. Stop what you are doing and listen! If we will listen to what God has to say, we will eat what is good and we will delight ourselves in rich food. True food and drink are available. Satisfaction is available.
So this is important for us. To have what is good, we must listen. If you will listen then you will have what is good. If you will listen then you will have true delight. We are not apt to listen. We think we have life all figured out. We think we are happy and satisfied. Satan is blinding us from seeing the riches and delights that God has to offer. So stop and listen. Verse 3 says that if we will listen we will come to God himself. You will have God himself before you. Listen and you will come to him. Listen and your soul will have life. You will be able to receive what your soul needs without cost. We cannot have closed ears. Failure to stop and listen is why Israel was condemned throughout this book (cf. 6:9-10).
But there is the offer of a new covenant which promises God’s unfailing love and compassion. In verse 3 God recalls the covenant made with David. David was promised that one of his descendants would establish God’s kingdom and reign on the throne eternally. Further, the steadfast love of the Lord would never depart from him (2 Samuel 7:12-16). God is asking us to remember this promise and invites us to join in the covenant. Notice, “I will make with you an everlasting covenant.” The “you” is a plural “you.” Everyone is given the offer of joining in this covenant of enjoying God’s steadfast love permanently. Those invited to the feast come to enjoy the blessings of David — citizenship in the eternal kingdom.
But the “you” in verse 5 is singular. God is no longer talking to the peoples about what they will have in the covenant made to David. God is speaking to one particular individual, the servant. The servant is fulfilling the role of the Davidic witness to the world. The whole world is receiving the call, not just Israel. God has glorified the servant, Jesus, causing the world to run to him.
How to Accept the Invitation (55:6-9)
So the invitation has been given. Come and buy the life satisfying food that God is giving for free. So how can we accept this amazing invitation of true life and satisfying joy?
Seek the Lord!In verse 6 the call is for the people to seek the Lord. Come with commitment and dedication to him. Seek him while he is near. This is a limited time opportunity! Now Isaiah will tell us what seeking the Lord looks like.
Forsake your ways and thoughts (55:7-9).Our ways, thinking, decision making, and thought processes are completely corrupted. Do not go with your thoughts! We are to make a decisive break from our past beliefs, assumptions, priorities, plans, culture, values, and the like. We are casting these things aside. Forsaking our ways and our thoughts is how we are going to seek the Lord. We come to the Lord as we are, but we cannot stay as we are. I want us to also recognize that this is repentance. This is what repentance looks like: forsaking our ways and our thoughts. Now see this: when we truly forsake our way of thinking and our paths, then we will find compassion. The wicked will find compassion. Not only this God “will abundantly pardon.” He will multiply pardon, forgiveness, and compassion on us, even though we have been wicked. But our ways and thoughts must be forfeited.
Now, we may ask why we must do this? Why must we forsake our ways and forsake our thoughts? God explains in verse 8. God’s thoughts and ways are not the same as ours. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. Isaiah is not saying that we cannot know what God’s ways are and what God’s thoughts are. That is not the point at all. The point is that his ways are far better than ours. The point is we do not do naturally what God wants. The gracious and compassionate ways of God are greater and better than our depraved ways. We are not God and we do not think like God or act like God. We are being told to exchange our ways for his ways. His ways are knowable and we are exchange our ways for his. God’s thoughts are knowable for he has revealed them. We are to exchange our thoughts for his thoughts. In fact, the only way we can forsake our ways is by knowing what the way of the Lord is.
Friends, this is what makes God’s ways so glorious. We would not forgive rebels who harmed us. But God says he will abundantly pardon. It is a wonderful thing that his ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts or we would be doomed. Further, his ways are glorious because God keeps his promises and covenant and does not nullify them due to our rebellion.
Before we move on, we must stop and ask: What ways are your ways but are not God’s ways? What things are you doing in your life that are not the ways of God that you are unwilling to forsake? Whatever we will not change and whatever thinking we will not give up shows that we are not seeking the Lord. We are still trying to be satisfied by false waters rather than coming to the true waters to receive life.
Why Receive the Invitation (55:10-13)
God now gives us even more reasons why we should accept this wonderful invitation to life and satisfaction. In verse 10 God draws on the imagery of rain. Rain gives life and sustains. The rain does exactly does God intends for it to do. It waters the earth bringing life. Plants sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater. God’s word is like this rain. The word of God is reliable for it accomplishes God’s purpose. The word of God is effective for it brings life, sustains, and causes growth. Rain always fulfills the role God gave it and so it is with his word. This is why we must forsake our ways. His words give life, not our words. His teachings will give us growth, not our teachings.
Listen to the promise of verse 11: “So shall my word be that goes out of my mouth; it shall not return to me empty.” Forsaking your ways and plunging yourself into God’s word will not leave you empty. God’s word has power for life, for sustenance, and for growth. God will change your life! God’s word will work if you will listen to him and forsake your ways!
There is a glorious result in listening to the word of the Lord. We will be set free. Verse 12 says that you will go out which is a metaphor for an exodus from exile. You are going to be set free from the curse of sin and enslavement to the false ways of this world. You are going to find joy and peace. You are going to have the waters that give life, joy, and satisfaction. The transformed people will be in a transformed relationship with the Lord that will be an everlasting sign. Our transformation as we enjoy this new covenant relationship with the Lord will stand as a monument to the world. God can radically change your life. He can take it from a curse and turn it into a blessing. Then people are going to see our changed lives which gives glory to the Lord.
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” (John 7:37–38 ESV)
Do you hear the same message in the words of Jesus? Come and receive the waters that truly satisfy. Jesus is the place that we must turn to for life and satisfaction. But he needs your heart. Your heart is the source of this change so that rivers of living water will flow from it. Forsake your ways and open your heart to listen to the Lord. Exchange your thoughts for his thoughts. Exchange your ways for his ways. Come to Jesus and receive life.