Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Oct 23 2019 - Isaiah 55 – Invitation to the thirsty

Let's review what we have read in the last few chapters of Isaiah to remind ourselves of the context of this wonderful chapter. In Isaiah 53 we were introduced to the Suffering Servant who has borne the iniquity of his people – the iniquity that brought them to be exiled from the land of promise. His sufferings paid the price for their sin and set them free (looking back to the promise of 40:2). And although this Servant was cut off from the land of the living (53:8) yet he will see his offspring and be satisfied (53:10-11).

The theme of offspring was then taken up in chapter 54 where the previously barren city of Jerusalem will be restored and populated until it expands to cover the land – in fulfilment of God's promise to Abraham. And, in a bold image, these offspring are seen as the fruit of the union between God and his people (54:5-7). God will make a secure and unshakable covenant with this redeemed people – a covenant of peace (54:9-10).

It is against this background that we must read Isaiah 55 and its opening invitation to "Come". It is a call to Israel to leave behind their captivity and to come to the feast God has prepared for them (55:1-2). Come and enjoy all the blessings of the eternal covenant God made with his people through David (53:3). This element of the invitation seems a little paradoxical. Israel no longer has a king and yet vv. 4-5 seem to suggest that God's purpose is to use their king to summon also the nations to come running to the feast. Clearly, these verses, following hard upon the work of the Suffering Servant, are a promise that the Lord Jesus, David's greater Son, will be the one who calls the whole world to enter freely into the blessings God has for his people. In him, all nations will be blessed.

All who have ears to hear are therefore summoned:

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon. (vv. 6-7)

God's promise of pardon and acceptance is as sure as the rain falls down from heaven rather than travelling upwards! (vv. 8-11). Not only will the Lord God restore his people, not only will he call all the world to come and feast on the blessings of his salvation, all of creation shall also be transformed by his saving power (vv. 12-13).

This chapter finds its fulfilment in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Suffering Servant who has paid the price for our sin, the one through whom and in whom we are forgiven. He is the one in whom the promise to Abraham finds its fulfilment. He is the one who calls us to come to him (Matthew 11:28-30). He is the one who speaks of his kingdom in terms of a great banquet, made freely available to all who will come. He is the one who, at his return will transform this damaged and spoilt creation so that it is made anew and filled with glory and praise.

How do we respond to the call of God to "Come"? Do we come gladly to God in Christ that we might feast freely on all the good things he has for his people? Or are we, like the elder brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son, still seeking to labour for what does not satisfy? Do we, like that brother, stand outside, refusing to come to the feast?

Lord God, thank you so much for this wonderful chapter of your word and for the invitation that you have given us to come to the feast. Thank you that this invitation has been bought for us at great cost but is offered to us freely and gladly. Help us to enjoy the riches of salvation's banquet with joyful thanksgiving, and to repeat your call to others around us, urging them to come to Christ. May many who now stand outside come in and feast with us on your inexhaustible goodness.

Peter Misselbrook