The Invitation - Isaiah 55
Copyright August 21, 2022 by Rev. Bruce Goettsche
At one time or another you probably have received a formal invitation in the mail. It may have been for a wedding, a party, or a shower of some kind. Often you are asked to RSVP, which stands for “Répondez, S'il VousPlaît” or “please respond.” These responses allow the host to plan appropriately for the event scheduled.
In Isaiah 53 read about the suffering servant, a vibrant picture of the suffering, cross, and burial of Christ. We were told this suffering was in our place and for our sin. In Isaiah 54, we were given the benefits of what Christ did on the cross for those who put their trust in Him. Now in chapter 55, all of this comes to a conclusion with an invitation to make the choice to choose to follow Christ.
The Scope of God’s Invitation
Look at all the expressions of invitation and response that in the first 7 verse of Isaiah 55.
1 “Is anyone thirsty?
Come and drink—
even if you have no money!
Come, take your choice of wine or milk—
it’s all free!
2 Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength?
Why pay for food that does you no good?
Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.
You will enjoy the finest food.
3 “Come to me with your ears wide open.
Listen, and you will find life.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you.
I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.
4 See how I used him to display my power among the peoples.
I made him a leader among the nations.
5 You also will command nations you do not know,
and peoples unknown to you will come running to obey,
because I, the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, have made you glorious.”
6 Seek the Lord while you can find him.
Call on him now while he is near.
7 Let the wicked change their ways
and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them.
Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.
The invitations are all encourage people to take action! It is good to learn about the Messiah (Jesus). It is good to know the prophecies. It is even good to know the reasons for trusting the Bible as the Word of God, and being convinced that Jesus rose from the dead. However. . . that is not all that is required. A choice must be made.
God calls us not only to know, but to respond to what we know. The Pharisees and Teachers of the Law were the most knowledgeable and revered men of the day. Unfortunately, Jesus took aim at them because of their unbelief. Knowledge by itself can save no one.
It is not enough to know that the bridge is out on the road you travel to work every day. You can know the bridge is out and still insist on driving your normal route. In which case, you are going to have some major repair bills IF you survive driving over a bridge that is not operational. Information requires a response for it to be helpful in our lives.
The Lord tells us those who respond to Him, will no longer be thirsty, they will find what is good, they will find life, and they will be part of God’s eternal family.
The Lord extends the invitation to everyone. We are told if ANYONE is thirsty they can come. You don’t have to have money, status, or a long resume. You don’t even have to be knowledgeable. You just have to come to Him. Those who truly come will not be turned away. It doesn’t matter where you have been or what you have done . . . God sends you and invitation.
The Conditions of the Invitation
The Lord asks a simple question: “Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good?” Today, we would say “Why are you eating only junk food?” The first step to coming to him is to recognize that you are currently heading in the wrong direction. Before Christ we were on a treadmill of futility. You will never turn to the Lord until you recognize that you cannot get to Him apart from Christ.
We are desperately stubborn people. We are continually trying to “fix” ourselves. We continue to think if we push the right buttons, we can earn God’s favor and a spot in Heaven. We must abandon such thinking before we can come to Him.
Second, we must repent. The old adage is true: one is a fool who thinks they will change the outcome by continuing to do what they have always done. I’ve watched a show called “Restaurant Renovation.” It is about a Master Chef who comes to a restaurant that is headed in the wrong direction. One of the first things that must be done is help the owner and staff see that they cannot get to where they want to be by continuing to do what got them in trouble to start with! Likewise, you must admit you sin and want to change.
You will never be able to get out of debt unless you change your spending habits. You won’t lose weight until you stop binge eating. You will not save your marriage if you insist on continuing to bicker about everything! In the same way, you can’t follow Christ while at the same time trying to live like the rest of the world.
Finally, we must receive and follow. The person who genuinely trusts in Christ is the One who takes God at His Word that those who trust in Him are forgiven and have new life. We must rest in that truth. Then, we follow Him. We don’t really believe in Him if aren’t willing to try to live as He told us to live.
We are told to call on Him “while He is near.” The door is now open, but that will not always be the case. This should not surprise us. Store sales only last for so long. Warranties and money back guarantees do not last forever. Job openings are open for only a brief time. And God’s invitation to be part of His family will not last forever. There is coming a day when God will bring this offer to an end. On that day, our Lord Jesus will return in the clouds and the world will face His judgment.
The urgency of the invitation is not only because the offer will one day be withdrawn . . . it is urgent because if we put off responding now, it is to drift away. fun. However, it is easy to slowly drift away from the Lord until we no longer think about it.
Satan is smart. He is not going to come straight out and try to attack the notion of Christ. He moves us away with little compromises.
· An “innocent flirtation”
· A college professor who tries to dismantle faith
· Government regulations that penalize those who hold to Christ as their Savior
· Addiction to electronic devices
· Quasi-spirituality (just enough spiritual sounding stuff to inoculate us from the real thing.)
Satan has a huge bag of seductions designed to move us from the real truth. This is why the wise person will act on these truths right now while they are thinking clearly, and they see the truth in focus. Those who delay may slowly drift away from this opportunity. Of course the other danger is, they could die. Once you are dead, there are no more chances.
An Important Reminder
8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
These are great verses for several reasons. First, they remind us that if you wait to follow the LORD until you understand everything, or think you have a “good handle on God,” you will never follow Him. The Lord God Almighty is far bigger than our minds could ever hope to understand. God is not intimidated by our questions. However, the thought that we can understand God is an empty-headed notion. We need someone who is bigger than our deepest needs. Someone bigger than our minds. God is that big and more.
There will always be questions for which we don’t have clear answers. It is not that there are no answers, it is that the answers are more profound than we can grasp. If you asked me to define “string theory” for you, I would have no idea as to the answer because I don’t even really know what “string theory” is (and I looked up the definition!) The fact that I do not know the answer does not mean there is no answer. It only means the answer is beyond me.
The ways of God are far more complex than string theory. If you wait until you can get all your theological questions answered before you turn to the Lord for forgiveness and new life, you will never come to Him. There will always be one more question that needs and answer.
Second, this passage is a comfort to believers also. It reminds us that what we call tragic and unfair may be serving an entirely different purpose for the Lord. If God worked the way we would like Him to work, there would always be smiles, we would always win, and life would be filled with only good experiences. Every prayer would be answered the way we requested it to be answered. Every loved one would always be healed. Every book would be a best seller, every song a hit, and every sermon would be riveting and life-changing. We would always have enough money and we could retire at 50. But . . . alas, that is not the way life works, does it?
Hard things come into our lives, and this leads some people to turn away from the Lord. They conclude, “Christianity doesn’t work!” (As if it were a vending machine.) This verse reminds us of the character and nature of God. He has promised that all things would work to our good in life (Romans 8:28) and when it doesn’t seem like that is true, we need to remember these verses in Isaiah 55. God is bigger than our minds can grasp.
God takes the long view of life. He looks past the immediate to the ultimate. Allowing pain or defeat now can shape our character for the future He has planned for us. The terrible things of life may be God’s platform for us to speak about our faith in a much more powerful way. God’s ways are not our ways. His ways are deeper and more profound. We often do not understand what He is doing until much later in life . . . if we can understand it even then.
Here is an example from Isaiah 57:1
Good people pass away;
the godly often die before their time.
But no one seems to care or wonder why.
No one seems to understand
that God is protecting them from the evil to come.
We look at the early death of good people to be a tragedy. God sees it as a gift that spares them further heartache in the world. We have come to think that something is bad if it makes me feel bad. God challenges us to see beyond ourselves.
The Promise in the Invitation
10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens
and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry.
11 It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
12 You will live in joy and peace.
The mountains and hills will burst into song,
and the trees of the field will clap their hands!
13 Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow.
Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.
These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name;
they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”
There are times when the rain and snow come down and we grumble. (At others times, we celebrate). But God is preparing the soil and the crops to provide for us. He says the same thing is true of His Word . . . He sends it out, and note this, it “ALWAYS produces fruit.” It will always accomplish God’s purposes.
If we want to be what God created us to be, we have to be students of His Word. This is not just reading the Word, it is studying, listening to, and assimilating the Word of God. We must read carefully, we must ask questions, and then apply what we are learning to our living.
Likewise, as we share God’s Truth in the world, we have the confidence that it is going to accomplish God’s purpose whether we see evidence of this or not. Rather than try to FORCE God’s Word to make an impact, our job is to consistently scatter the truth of God and watch to see what God does.
The Lord’s promise to those who respond to His invitation is pretty comprehensive: we will live in joy and peace (that doesn’t mean there won’t be trials!) These are attitudes you can have in good times or bad times! And then, all of creation is going to worship the Lord!
And isn’t this the only appropriate response to the greatness of God and the wonder of His mercy toward us? We should sing. We should praise. We should give glory to God. Where once there was brokenness, now there is life. Where once there was despair, now there is confident hope. Praise and thanks be to God.
There is one question to answer as we wrap up our look at Isaiah 55. “So, are you thirsty for a better life?” Are you thirsty for a relationship with the God who is over all creation?” Do you thirst to serve Him? If so, what is holding you back? What holds you back from confessing your sin and your trust in Him? What holds us back from serving Him with unbounded energy? What keeps us from keeping Him in the first position of our lives? What is it that hinders that sense of unbounded worship? The message is simple: if this is what you want for your life . . . come and drink!
It's possible that you don’t know where to begin. Let me give you a little guidance. First, tell God you want to know Him and ask Him to help you. Second, affirm that you know you can only be made new through the work of Christ and confess that you give up every notion that you can somehow do this on your own. When you talk to God, it might sound something like this,
Lord, I do want to find you. I want to know your forgiveness and new life. I have spent much of my life to this day hoping I can be good enough to earn your favor. I give up all such notions today. I know I am completely dependent on the work of Jesus who died for my sin. Today, I trust Him as my substitute, my savior, and my King. Fill me with the life that comes through you.
The third step is important, take Him at His Word. Believe that your sincere profession of faith opens the door for you to receive His gift of forgiveness and the gift of God’s Spirit living inside of you. Determine that you are going to listen for and respond to the nudging and leading of His Spirit inside of you. Let the adventure begin!
I know it is possible you may not be ready to make such a declaration today. If that is the case, I encourage you to keep seeking, and keep asking questions. But do so diligently and stay as close to Him as you can. Don’t take too long! Time is running out. None of us knows how much time we have. Don’t put this on the back burner. There is no issue that is MORE important than this one. He has issued His invitation. Now He asks you to RSVP.