3 Pay close attention!
Come to me and live.
I will promise you
the eternal love and loyalty
that I promised David.
Isaiah has been called the fifth Gospel. Themes of divine grace subverting human rebellion, of heaven’s glorious light breaking into earth’s thickest darkness, of God’s wild hope overturning our utmost despair – of dead things coming to life and flourishing by the breath of God – soak Isaiah’s 66 chapters.
It all builds toward a crescendo of promise and warning.
Isaiah 55 is a particular high point. In words that Jesus will later echo on at least two occasions (Matthew 11:28, John 7:37), God declares to people in exile,
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.
On what grounds does God make such an offer? That needs to be understood in the context of all Isaiah, but especially the prior 2 chapters. Isaiah 54 is about God’s improbable, extravagant, undeserved restoration of his creation and his people. It begins,
Sing, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband.
And it rolls on from there, ending with “this” – “this” meaning a cornucopia of life and hope – “this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord.” The lavish invitation of Isaiah 55, then – the “Come, all you…” – is God offering his riches to anyone who wants them.
But, again, on what grounds does God make such an offer?
To truly grasp that, we must go back to the end of Isaiah 52 and all of Isaiah 53.
Here’s how that section opens: “See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted” (Is. 52:13).
We, the “servants of the Lord,” though quite recently his enemies, inherit all his riches, not by our work, but by the willing sacrifice of God’s one true servant. That servant was “pierced for our transgressions… crushed for our iniquities” (Is. 53:5). That servant flung his arms wide to take on your sins and mine. “The punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Is. 55:5).
And so that servant now flings his arms wide and says, “Come, all. Come enjoy, at my expense but at no cost to you, my Father’s richest banquet.”
Hungry? Well, go!
Thank you again, Jesus, for all you suffered for me. Thank you for the obedience that took you to the cross. Thank you for the healing that you have brought to my wounds. And thank you for this invitation to your banquet, which I gladly accept.