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. Help us also 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 inexhastible goodness.

Oct 23 2013 - 2 Timothy 2:1-19 – Handle with care

Paul is in prison in Rome. He is no longer able to travel around the churches to preach Christ and expound the Word of God. But, he says, “God’s word is not chained” (2 Timothy 2:9). God cannot be chained up and imprisoned, neither can his word be robbed of its power. Paul knows that those to whom he has committed the gospel message will continue the ministry he had begun. Paul writes to Timothy, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).

Paul reminds Timothy that those who preach the word have an awesome responsibility. And what Paul says to Timothy he says also to us. We are not to use the word of God to our own ends. God's word is not to be massaged, reshaped and repackaged by us so that our listeners are impressed with the ingenuity of our preaching. The word must master us, shaping our minds and hearts, thrilling our souls and shaping our lives. We are then to communicate the word that has addressed us with clarity and power (ambiguity intended). We are to be transparent communicators so that our listeners hear not us but God speaking to them. We want them to be transformed by God's word and Spirit not entranced and captivated by our preaching. This is no easy calling; it is both serious and demanding.

The word of God is precious; it is to be handled with care. The word of God is powerful; it is not to be taken captive but is to be set free. We are to be servants of the word rather than proud masters of the word.

And this word has been set free. All around the world the Scriptures have been and are being translated into the heart language of its many peoples. Scriptures are being printed and distributed, along with audio and Braille versions. Again and again we hear how lives are being touched and transformed. God is at work through his word to create a people who will be his very own.

But there are also those who seek to put a stop to this work of God – as they have done from the first. Those who preach the word are threatened, imprisoned or even killed. Scriptures are confiscated and destroyed. Christian bookshops are burnt down. But still God’s word cannot be chained. God has sent his word into the world and he will not allow it to return to him void; it will accomplish what he has purposed. And he has called us to become part of his great army of conquest – to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ (2:3), fighting not with the weapons of this world but with the powerful word of God.

What could you do to free up the word of God and send it to every corner of the world?

Father God, thank you for your powerful word. At your word, creation sprang into being. Your word brings light and life. Thank you for Jesus Christ your Son, the word made flesh. Thank you that in him we read your passion for the world you have made and your great love for us. Thank you that he died for us and has been raised from the dead and is seated at your right hand. Thank you for your Spirit poured out upon us and upon this world. Help us to minister your word in the power of your Spirit that many might come to know the Lord Jesus and have life in him.

Peter Misselbrook