Some of you, a couple of weeks ago, awoke at 4:30 a.m. to watch the royal wedding. Along with the beauty and the pageantry associated with the event, you may have been curious about the outfits that the rich and famous would wear to such an occasion. Or you were curious about who came, and thus who was invited. And you noticed the vacant chair on the second row.
Our passage today is stated as an invitation to something much more important and more elaborate than any ball or wedding; yet there is no discrimination involved. Everyone receives an invitation. This is all the result of the death and resurrection of God’s servant mentioned in chapter 53- the one we know as Jesus Christ, God’s Son. We might ask as we approach our text, what does God invite us to? And how may we respond? We first see that…
GOD’S GRACIOUSLY INVITES US TO SPIRITUAL SATISFACTION.
Isaiah 55:1 says:
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”
The term which begins our passage is unique. The Hebrew means ah! alas! ha! It is meant to grab attention to something special. And this invitation was something unique.
And this invitation had spiritual relevancy. Living in Israel during this time, thirst would be a common occurrence. It was an arid part of the world. People could relate to being thirsty. Incidentally, water for consumption was sold in the days of Isaiah. The seller would call out to would-be buyers to come and purchase from his stand. The mention of wine and milk represents happiness and nourishment. What’s more is that unlike the necessity to buy these items in real life, they are indeed free to the one who responds to God’s gracious invitation. God uses these symbols to offer what is free to the needy heart, that only He can supply! They cost nothing to the person who responds.
Speaking of these other items, it should come as no surprise that
what we call communion, the partaking of the Lord’s Supper, consists of bread and drink. Let us remember what we did on Pentecost Sunday, as a reminder that Jesus is the soul’s true food and true drink. It is only through His great sacrifice that we can commune with God. And when we observe the Lord’s Supper, it is a time of rededication of faith and repentance from sin, realizing that our soul’s hunger and thirst is satisfied in Christ!
Notice how Jesus uses water and rest to illustrate the He can give us our souls deepest longings. Many times Jesus used water to illustrate His ability to satisfy spiritual thirst. Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4:13:
“Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
And in John 7:37, Jesus spoke openly to all who would hear: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” Jesus satisfies spiritual thirst.
Jesus also grants spiritual rest. He gives soul rest to everyone who follows Him. He said in Matthew 11:28:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Such an invitation says something about God. Notice that in these requests, the Lord is not hiding Himself. He is not stand-offish or reserved. Rather He calls us to follow Him and promises us what we so desperately need: Himself! God establishes His covenant and invites us to enter in. The God of the universe lowered Himself to us. He came to our level and invites us to follow Him. Jesus came to lead us to God. Secondly…
WE MUST BE CAREFUL TO RESPOND TO GOD’S INVITATION APPROPRIATELY.
Notice what verse two states:
“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live….”
These verses imply that some wanted to spend their spiritual currency on other things. They had bought into other religious fads and ideas that did not benefit the way in which God blessed the one who turns to Him.
Some of you here are looking for God and spiritual fulfillment in places other than Jesus Christ. But we come by this honestly. Dr. Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary, puts it this way. He states that we all have a problem.
“We are homo-idolater, the creature who would fashion our own god. This the true perennial heresy. …We are natural-born idolaters, and it is good that we admit this up front. …The reason is simple- we must worship, we will worship. Even as nature abhors a vacuum, so does the human soul. The human soul will find an object of worship, either on the shelf, on the altar, in the mirror, or in heaven. We are born idolaters (Mohler, Words from the Fire).”
God invites you to reorient your compass to Christ; to reject the object, the activity, the person or the self and worship Him alone! He offers you the Grand Invitation, a summons to come to the living God and give Him our lives. Every day there is an invitation to follow Him.
But such an invitation must invoke a specific action. Verse 6 states:
“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; and let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”
The people of Judah needed to turn back to God. They had drifted far away from Him. And now He was calling them back; calling them out of their idolatry, their fornication, their lack of integrity. God accepts us as we are, but He asks us to change with His help. Some of you have drifted from God. You need to come back to Him, today! And there’s no better time than the present.
Such a gracious invitation is not what we would construct. We would undoubtedly make it more difficult. But God asks of us to turn. Jesus preached again and again: “The time is fulfilled; the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.”
Repentance means to change. It is implied in the act of confession, when a person comes before the Lord in prayer, and asks for forgiveness and turns from their wrongful deeds.
The other act is faith- which goes beyond believing that there is a God. But means embracing God, following Jesus Christ. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24: “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.”
With these actions, they can be summed up in a drawing; a seeking. “Seek the Lord while He may be found,” preaches Isaiah. Jeremiah 29:13: “You will search for Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” James 4 tells us: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
All of this is not based on human knowledge or invention, but on God’s infinite wisdom. Thankfully, God did not consult us. He said in verse eight: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
And He uses the preaching of His word to bring about His desired outcome! That is why Christians are people of the book. We hold a very high view of Scripture, believing it to be the very word of God. It came from Him. Jesus said: “Thy word is truth.” And He was referring to Scripture! God’s word is sometimes compared to a seed. Jesus told the parable of the sower in Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8. There, the condition of the ground was key to each portion of seed scattered, and its production.
God will never allow the preaching of His word to be truly ineffective. There are ineffective preachers. And there are ineffective listeners. But there is no ineffective word. Set your spiritual hunger and your spiritual thirst upon God!
The story is told of a young student who went to his spiritual teacher and asked the question, “Master, how can I truly find God?” The teacher asked the student to accompany him to the river which ran by the village and invited him to go into the water. When they got to the middle of the stream, the teacher said, “Please immerse yourself in the water.” The student did as he was instructed, whereupon the teacher put his hands on the young man’s head and held him under the water. Presently the student began to struggle. The master held him under still. A moment passed and the student was thrashing and beating the water and air with his arms. Still, the master held him under the water. Finally, the student was released and shot up from the water, lungs aching and gasping for air. The teacher waited for a few moments and then said, “When you desire God as truly as you desired to breathe the air you just breathed — then you shall find God.”