INTRODUCTION After their first sin the first man and his wife "hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God" [Genesis 3:8], and sinners have been trying to run away and hide from their Creator ever since. Yet in His great mercy God is continually calling sinners to repentance. In fact, God "now commandeth all men ever where to repent" [Acts 17:30].
Invitations abound in God's Word both for lost sinners and for backsliders. Our lesson is from Isaiah, perhaps the most evangelistic of the Old Testament prophets. For an outline we may note these points: 1. Coming, Isaiah 55:1-3. a. Water of life, 1. b. Bread of life, 2. c. Word of life, 3. 2. Calling, Isaiah 55:4-6. a. God calling to men, 4-5. b. Men calling to God, 6. 3. Conciliation, Isaiah 55:7-9. a. Repentance invited, 7. b. Repentance imperative, 8-9 4. Causation, Isaiah 55:10-11. a. Water from heaven, 10. b. Word from heaven, 11.
NOTES ON THE TEXT: COMING, Isaiah 55:1-3. When God says to us, "Come," it is obvious that we are not where we ought to be, spiritually speaking. Of course this has nothing to do with location in space, but refers to our spiritual position and attitude. Sin separates the sinner from God, as the prophet declared: "Thou art of purer eyes that to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity" [Habakkuk 1:13; see also Isaiah 59:2, etc.]. Therefore when God invites the sinner to come to Him, it is because He has found a way to separate the sinner from his sins, so that the sinner can come without sin into the presence of our holy God.
Water of Life, 1. "Everyone that thirsteth" is invited to come to the waters freely provided. If there are souls that have no thirst for spiritual drink, of course they will not come unless or until they get thirsty. Wine and milk, in the natural sense, are mostly water; in spiritual symbolism wine may refer especially to the Holy Spirit and milk to the Word of God, as water in this context may refer in general to divine life.
"Buy" here suggests a personal appropriation of the refreshment offered; but all the wealth of the world would not be enough to pay for the gifts of God, which therefore we must buy "without money and without price."
Bread of Life, 2. Christ is the true "Bread of life" [John 6:32-35], and those people are very foolish who spend their money and labor on false religious exercises and enterprises which fail to glorify Christ and which cannot satisfy the hungry soul. Moreover, we need to "hearken diligently" to the voice of God to avoid being stuffed with the doctrines of men: let us eat only that which is good, and delight our souls in the "fatness" of His grace.
Word of Life, 3. So it is God's Word that we need to hear. To this end 1et us give earnest attention, inclining our ears to Him and drawing closer to catch every word clearly. "Hear, and your soul shall live. '1 Let us find our place in His "everlasting covenant;" let us not miss "the sure mercies of David."
CALLING, Isaiah 55:4-6. Job lamented that there was no "daysman" or umpire between him and God, "that might lay his hand upon us both," and so mediate his case [Job 9:33]. But since then Christ has come, and He is that Mediator through Whom we can communicate with our Maker. God calls to us in Christ, and we call to Him through Christ.
God Calling to Men, 4-5. The "witness," "leader," and "commander" is none other than the Messiah, the Son of God. In verse 4 the Father speaks about the Son; in verse 5 the prophet addresses the Son directly. More than seven centuries before the birth of Christ, Isaiah by divine inspiration predicted that God in Christ would call the Gentiles to the worship of the God of Israel.
Men Calling to God, 6. "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" [Romans 10:13]. The time to seek the Lord is when He has sought us, because then "He may be found." The time to call upon Him is "while he is near," while His Word, the Word of faith, is in the mouth and heart" [Romans 10:8].
CONCILIATION, Isaiah 55:7-9. Promises of pardon are mingled with warnings of wrath. Sinners must not presume that they can obtain mercy while clinging to their sins. By nature the depraved sinner is an enemy of God, and we cannot expect Him to compromise His holiness. Peace with God can be obtained only through full surrender to His will. Now in that good will of God there is provision for peace through the offering of His Son on the cross as the one and only acceptable Substitute for sinners in the satisfaction of divine justice. "He is our peace" and "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" [Ephesians 2:14; Romans 5:1].
Repentance Invited, 7. For the sinner to "forsake his way" involves more than mere outward reformation; God cannot be deceived by pretense. The lost and wayward soul must change radically his whole way of thinking; he must abandon his own thoughts and "return unto the Lord" his Maker. If God is to grant mercy and pardon, He certainly has the right to state the terms upon which He will do so; and on these terms He assures us that "He will have mercy" and "will abundantly pardon."
Repentance Imperative, 8-9. Human repentance is imperative in order for man to have peace with God, because God is right and man is wrong; God will not depart from His holiness in order to accommodate our sins, and therefore we must change to His way of thinking in order to be fit for His presence. If we can measure the height of the heavens above the earth, then maybe we can begin to measure the height of God's ways and thoughts above ours. Until then we can only look to Him to lift us up out of ourselves.
CAUSATION, Isaiah 55:10-11. Does all this seem impossible? Well, so it is, with men; "but with God all things are possible" [Matthew 19:26]. The God Who has prepared great things for us is well able to cause all His purposes to come to pass.
Water from Heaven, 10. Rain and snow may cause destructive floods, but also this water from heaven waters the earth, "and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater." Without this natural water from heaven, the earth would be one vast desert.
Word from Heaven, 11. Likewise the Word of God given to us from heaven speaks of both judgment and mercy, causing both death and life [See II Corinthians 2:15-17]. God's Word may not always produce the results naturally preferred by the human preacher, but we can depend upon it that God has not spoken in vain: His Word will not return to Him void, but it will accomplish that which He pleases, and it will prosper in the thing whereto He sent it.
CONCLUSION [Psalm 100:5] Until the wicked Warren court of these last days of corruption, who would have guessed that it could be made unlawful in this great nation to teach little children in school that God is good? Nevertheless He is still good, despite the fatuous fulminations of filthy infidels: His goodness is manifest in the very existence of unworthy creatures and His forbearance toward them; His goodness is manifest when now and then one of them repents and seeks His mercy; and His goodness will be manifested in the final and everlasting destruction and punishment of the wicked who will not repent.
To those who receive His mercy, His mercy is everlasting; and His mercy is everlasting for the very reason that His truth endures to all generations: God never needs to change His mind, because He was always right in the beginning. ==============[From Ashland Avenue Baptist newspaper, April 25, 1975,, pp. 2-3. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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