God’s Invitation to the Covenant Blessings
What invitation did God issue to the people?
Verses 1-5 accentuate the fact that only God can satisfy the spiritual needs of man. Isaiah pictured God calling out to the thirsty (both Jew and Gentile) to look to Him for water (symbol of salvation), wine (a symbol of the joy of salvation), and milk, (a symbol of nourishment). This life-giving sustenance was available to all (55:1). Those who do not look to God however, are spending their resources on things that do not satisfy (55:2a).
Many of the exiles were enjoying secure and prosperous lives in captivity. Their lives were however, spiritually empty. And spiritual voids cannot be filled with material things. One commentator paraphrased the question of verse 2 (addressed to the comfortable exiles): “Does all this really satisfy you? Is this what you are for?”
God pled with the people to listen to Him and partake of the spiritual food and drink that would satisfy their deepest spiritual needs (55:2b). God called on the exiles to listen to Him, come to Him, and respond to Him in faith that they might experience life at its fullest (55:3a).
God promised to make an everlasting covenant with them as He did with David. Such a covenant would make them the beneficiaries of God’s love and care. (55:3b). God expected His people to serve as a witness and spiritual leader to the world even as David served as a spiritual leader to the nation (55:4-5).
Practical Consideration: God always takes the initiative in salvation.
Isaiah 55 affirms the fact that it is God who takes the initiative in salvation. Other religions tell seekers to go and do something whereas God bids them to come. It is God who calls the thirsty to come and have their thirst quenched with the water He provides.
The New Testament similarly affirms that it is God who so loved that He gave (John 3:16) and who first loved us (1 John 4:19). God’s ultimate and undeniable demonstration of His initiative was at Calvary.
Practical Consideration: Spiritual needs cannot be satisfied with material things.
Many of the exiles had grown comfortable in captivity. They were content with the thought of staying in a foreign land with their hard-earned possessions rather than to return to rebuild their devastated homeland and be identified with God’s people.
In like manner, many people today are comfortable in captivity. They are in bondage to sin. They soothe the sores produced by the chains that bind them with the salve of materialism, but the sores will not heal. They seek to fill the aching void within their hearts with possessions, power, and prestige, but their hearts still ache. Only God can heal our hurts, forgive our sins, and fill the void in our hearts. Only God can satisfy the deep spiritual hunger of man.
God’s Call to Repent and Be Pardoned
What did God call upon the people to do?
God called upon individuals to seek Him and call upon Him (55:6). There is a sense of urgency conveyed in Isaiah’s message (see also 2 Corinthians 6:2). They were to seek the Lord “while He may be found” and call upon Him “while He is near” (55:6).
Those who had grown comfortable in captivity had to make up their minds. God offered salvation. God offered deliverance from exile. They had a window of opportunity to repent and return to the Lord and their land. In order to seek Him they needed to forsake their wicked ways (lifestyle) and thoughts (55:7a) and then “return to the Lord…And to our God” (55:7b).
Those repenting and returning to the Lord would experience His compassion and pardon. God reminded His people that His thoughts and ways are higher than theirs. There is a moral difference between God’s ways and thoughts and the ways and thoughts of the wicked man (55:7a).
God assured the people that His word was reliable. They could count on God fulfilling His word to deliver them from captivity as sure as the rain and snow water the earth and make it productive (55:10-11). On that day they would go forth rejoicing and in peace and the world of nature would rejoice with them as well (55:12-13). Their deliverance from exile would testify to the validity of God’s prophetic word.
Note: Biblical commentator Trent C. Butler writes: “Here then is the summary of the message of chapters 40-55. God had planned salvation for His people. He sent His prophet with the word of God to announce this salvation. The people must decide to climb out of the depth of despair to join the journey of joy along the wilderness way to be a witness for the world to the glory of God.”