Our invitations at the end of sermons can often be somewhat trite, simple, summary statements that over time can lead us to believe there are a list of one-time actions that describe salvation. The Lord’s invitation is far different. His invitation needs to be understood by every Christian and proclaimed to every man, woman, and yes, even children. In my next few articles, I want to explore with you Isaiah’s description of what it means to respond to the gospel invitation. Listen to God’s opening words:
1 “Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
3 Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live. (NIV11)
The context of Isaiah 55 is the fourth and final Servant Song, which began in 52:13. It is the picture of a suffering servant who made his soul an offering for sin, and yet lived on to see his offspring multiply and fill the earth. Chapter 54 relates the great mercy of the Lord that resulted from the Servant’s offering. Chapter 55 concludes an addendum to the Servant Song by offering an invitation to all who thirst and all who hunger.
Even though the ESV begins with “Come,” the Hebrew is not the same as the word “come” used three times in the rest of the verse. The NASB represents the meaning with “Ho!” You might have experienced a similar picture at a Farmer’s Market where all the sellers are trying to get the attention of those who are passing by. Notice the call of the merchant. The implication is, there are a world of people who are thirsty and hungry. Though he calls to the thirsty, verse 2 shows that everyone is seeking to quench their thirst and their hunger. The call of this merchant is to recognize the value of what he is offering over what is offered by others.
The idea of receiving something for free always gets our attention. Though the thirsty and hungry still need to “buy,” there is no monetary cost. In fact, this merchant calls to those who actually have no money. He invites those in poverty to come buy and eat. Though there is no price, what the merchant offers far exceeds what anyone else can offer. He doesn’t just offer water, nor does he offer junk food, but that which is of the greatest desire: wine, milk, and rich food. In contrast, this merchant chides those who buy from other vendors. They are actually spending their money and yet not receiving the “bread” that will sustain or satisfy them. What is purchased elsewhere leaves them hungry and starving. This is another way of illustrating both the ancient idols and the idols of pleasure and possessions of our day that promise sustenance, wealth, and protection, while requiring expensive payments of money and effort, only to receive an empty result. Why do we do that? We keep looking and spending in all the wrong places for all the wrong things. Like the foolishness of the prodigal son, everything he thought the world would provide had always been available in the Father’s house.
I love these words: “Delight yourselves in rich food.” We know what that is like when we go to our favorite restaurant or eat that home-cooked meal like mom made when we were growing up. The NET translates, “Enjoy fine food!” So, here is our test. Does seeking the Lord and tasting the goodness of the Lord remind you of eating the best food? Do you keep going back for more? Do you want seconds and thirds and look forward to the next meal? Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness! How foolish when we eat and eat and eat the physical food of this world thinking that one more bite will somehow satisfy! Come and enjoy the rich food of the Lord. That is the invitation!
One more thing. Note the words, “Incline your ear, and come to me; hear that your soul may live.” Ah, the rich food is God himself who gives life to our soul. Come, hear him and know him. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1). It is God, not things, pleasures, or earthly comforts that is the rich food; it is God. In the words of John Piper, throughout the Psalms God is the all-satisfying object.
What a wonderful invitation.