Isaiah 55:1–13comment (0)
November 23, 2006
By Jerry W. Batson
Related Scripture: Isaiah 55:1–13
Bible Studies for Life
Associate Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
Live Now … and Forever
People tend to put off facing the claims of the gospel. Obeying it and receiving forgiveness of sins are easily postponed. While some may say, “Later,” God says, “Now.”
This lesson passage is at the end of a three-chapter section of Isaiah. Isaiah 53 (which actually begins with the last verse of chapter 52) prophesies about the future Messiah, God’s Servant who would bear the iniquities of others. Isaiah 54 announces the forgiveness that God’s Servant would bring because of God’s covenant faithfulness. These two chapters lead to the invitation in Isaiah 55 for people to experience God’s forgiveness. God’s invitation is the sequel to His offer and the prelude to His guarantee.
God’s Offer: Receive Life to the Max (1–5)
Isaiah prophesied to God’s people Israel who would shortly find themselves living in exile. Through Isaiah, God appealed to them to pay attention and respond to His offer of new life and a new relationship with Him.
God addresses His offer of abundant life to people who know that they are hungry and thirsty — that is, people who acknowledge that they are spiritually empty and unable to satisfy their emptiness. God’s offer remains the same. He offers to satisfy heart hunger and spiritual thirst freely. The first step toward divine forgiveness and the new life it brings is a person’s awareness of being without real life and needing forgiveness for sins. The second step is to hear God’s invitation and choose to come to Him and receive the life He gives.
God’s Invitation: Turn Now and Be Forgiven (6–7)
God urged His people, whose exile would be punishment for their sins, to avoid any hesitation in repenting and turning to Him. He promised He would freely forgive them. His forgiveness, however, would be dependent of their willingness to forsake wicked ways and sinful thoughts. In simple expression, divine forgiveness demands human repentance. Those who choose to turn to the Lord find that He welcomes them with mercy and freely forgives them.
A certain urgency attaches to God’s invitation. People must turn to the Lord while they can. One preacher put it like this: “However death finds you, eternity will hold you.” All of us must accept God’s invitation prior to being caught in the grasp of eternity. In eternity, those who are filthy and unjust will forever remain filthy and unjust; those who are righteous and holy will remain righteous and holy forever (Rev. 22:11). In light of the uncertainty of life, God’s invitation to turn to Him and be forgiven carries the date of “Now.”
God’s Guarantee: His Promises Won’t Fail (8–13)
God assured His exiled people that His promises of forgiveness and restoration are absolutely trustworthy. This is true even if we are not able to understand fully His thoughts and ways, because they are higher than ours.
Rain and snow fall on the earth for a definite and desirable purpose. God’s gracious moisture accomplishes the purpose of enabling the ground to bring forth vegetation. In like analogy, God sends forth His Word for the purpose of accomplishing His pleasure. He promises that His Word will succeed in restoring joy to repentant sinners.
In reaction to God’s gracious purposes of salvation being realized, all nature will join God’s forgiven people in a burst of praise. In meaningful poetic rapture, the mountains and hills will break forth in glad singing and the trees of the field will join in with joyous clapping. The ground will respond by abandoning the production of thorns and briers in favor of vegetation that blesses the people of God. This extravagant imagery underscores God’s guarantee that His promises will not fail.
That which God promised through Isaiah He fulfilled by sending His Son to be the Savior of the world. God’s provision of forgiveness centers in Jesus who died for our sins, bearing in Himself their full penalty. New life now and forever is offered to all who turn from sin in repentance and embrace the Savior in personal trust.