Have you ever been so thirsty that you thought you could not continue? Perhaps in a hot desert? Maybe taking a hike on a hot, sunny day? When you are in that situation, what do you want? How about a tall, cool drink of water? You need it, and you want it—a combination of need and desire. Isaiah related to this double emphasis of need and desire as he explained God’s extraordinary invitation.
God Invites You to Take Him as Savior
Isaiah answered several questions in this text. Who is invited? God invites all to come to Him, without limitation. Consider how that contrasts with nearly all major events for which invitations are extended. At President Obama’s second inauguration, The Washington Post headline on Jan. 7, 2013, read, “Presidential Inaugural Ball Tickets Sold out Before They Were Supposed to Be Available.” Hundreds of people who hoped to get a ticket had no opportunity to do so. They were excluded.
God, however, excludes no one. Isaiah specifically wrote to the Jews, but he clearly included Gentiles, the “nations You know not, and nations that do not know You will hasten to You” (v. 55:5).
How are they described? These who are invited are thirsty (v. 55:1). Just as you can be thirsty physically, so a person can be thirsty spiritually when in need of salvation (cf. John 4:13-15). They also are seen to be without money. In desert climates in biblical times, it was common for a person with a well to charge for his water. A person with no money could be in a difficult situation. Salvation, however, is obtained without money. Poor people and rich people can come freely.
What are they offered? These who are invited are offered full satisfaction. They can have water, which is the prime necessity of life. They can have wine, which brings gladness to life (Ps. 104:15). They can have milk, that which nourishes life (Josh. 5:6; 1 Pet. 2:2). In contrast to this satisfaction is that which never satisfies (Isa. 55:20). Working for that which will support and comfort us, but without God, never brings satisfaction.
What are the conditions? The starting condition is that there must be desire, they must know they are thirsty for God (v. 55:1). Another condition is that they must receive the message (v. 55:3). They must give ear and hear God’s Word to them. In addition, they must accept the Lord (v. 55:6). They must seek Him and call on Him, similar to the way a drowning swimmer calls out to a lifeguard. The final condition is repentance (v. 55:7). They must turn away from their evil and turn to God and His righteousness.
When is the time? The time is while God is available (v. 55:6). Come to Him in faith while He may be found and while He is near. Continually rejecting God potentially can result in God giving a person over to sin without salvation (Rom. 1:24-28).
The final question Isaiah answers is: What are the promises? God promises that “your soul may live” (v. 55:3). That emphasis on soul points to more than mere earthly life; it anticipates eternal life. God also promises mercy and complete pardon from sin (v. 55:7).
God Invites You to Take Him as He Is
This great God who offers a marvelous salvation is different from us (v. 55:8). His mercy and pardon are inherent in His nature. We cannot understand the way God deals with sin and its forgiveness; it is different from our thoughts and different from our ways.
This great God is also greater than us (v. 55:9). His forgiving ways are as much above our ways as the heaven is above the Earth. We often find it difficult to forgive others; God readily offers pardon. We only forgive occasionally; God forgives without limit. We have difficulty forgiving minor offenses; God forgives all offenses. We never imagine a universal forgiveness plan; God thought of one and implemented it.
Because God gives this extraordinary invitation, we should accept it ourselves, as well as share it with others who need to accept it.
Larry Overstreet, adjunct professor of ministry at Piedmont International University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.