Scripture reading – Isaiah 55; Isaiah 56


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We have considered Isaiah’s prophetic portrait of the Messiah’s rejection, suffering, and death (Isaiah 53) followed by the summons for Israel to “break forth into singing” (Isaiah 54:1a). Though Israel would be taken away and afflicted by Assyria, the LORD promised He would not forsake them. While years of humiliation attended the captivity, the prophet wanted the people to remember the LORD was their God, Redeemer, and the sovereign “of the whole earth” (Isaiah 54:2-5).


Isaiah 55

A Universal Invitation (Isaiah 55:1)

Isaiah 55 began with a glorious invitation to all people: “Ho [Listen], every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, And he that hath no money; Come ye, buy, and eat; Yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1).

The spiritually thirsty and the poor were invited to come to the LORD, but not with money. The LORD’s invitation was to come and accept His free offer of salvation that was executed by His grace. The salvation offered to the thirsty and poor of Israel is offered to all sinners on the same basis…by God’s grace and loving favor (Isaiah 55:2; Romans 3:23-24; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9).

What did the LORD promise those who were spiritually thirsty? He promised if they would come to Him, their “soul shall live” (Isaiah 55:3). He offered them life (eternal life), “an everlasting covenant[security], and “mercy” (55:3). I believe the Messiah, the LORD Jesus Christ, was the One given “for a witness…[and] a leader and commander to the people” (Isaiah 55:4).

A Gracious Invitation to Gentiles

A Gracious Invitation to Gentiles (Isaiah 55:5)

Isaiah 55:5 revealed that the Messiah would come not only to redeem the Jews but that He would call Gentile nations (non-Hebrews described as “a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee” (Isaiah 55:5).


An Exhortation to Seek and Repent (Isaiah 55:6-9)

Isaiah 55:6-13 is one of the great invitations recorded in the Scriptures: “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, Call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). Repent, “let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD” (Isaiah 55:7). The first step of sincere repentance is for a sinner to “forsake his way” of sin. We are reminded that it is not only sinful actions but sinful thoughts that must be abandoned when a sinner turns to the LORD. With the promise that He will “abundantly pardon” those who repent, the LORD warned: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). The thoughts, ways, and plans of God exceed our ability to grasp and understand. His mercy and grace are indescribable (Isaiah 55:9).


Closing thoughts – Consider the emphasis on the preeminence of the Word of God in the closing verses Isaiah 55:11.

As the earth depends on rain and snow and cannot bloom and grow without them, so the heart of man needs the Word of God. The LORD promises, “So shall my word [truth; revelation] be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void [ineffectual; empty; i.e., having no effect], but it shall accomplish [do; make] that which I please [take pleasure or delight in], and it shall prosper [succeed] in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

When a sinner’s heart is tender and receives the Word of the LORD (like the earth receives seed and rain), His Word convicts and brings forth the fruit of repentance and redemption.  

What a great encouragement to those who study, teach, and preach the Word of God. The LORD has promised that His Word will fulfill its purpose.

Hebrews 4:1212For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The Blessings of the LORD: A Universal Invitation

Isaiah 56 – The Duty of Man and the Mercy of God


What does it mean to “seek the LORD?” (Isaiah 56:1-2)

Those who “seek the LORD” will seek, guard, and keep the Law and Commandments. To them, the LORD promised, “My salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed” (Isaiah 56:1). Such a man is “blessed” [happy] and he “keepeth the Sabbath,” and “keepeth his hand from doing any evil” [keeping the Sabbath as a day of worship, and rest] (Isaiah 56:2). 

The Sabbath and its adherence by the “children of Israel” (Exodus 31:12-18) was a sign of sanctification to both Jew and Gentile believers who became part of Israel (Gentile believers were the “sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, and to love the name of the LORD,” Isaiah 56:3, 6).


The Blessings of the LORD: A Universal Invitation (Isaiah 56:3-8)

Understanding the heart and compassion of the LORD for sinners and reflecting the Great Commission of the New Testament (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-18; Acts 1:8), the invitation to come to the LORD was universal. The LORD assured believers that both the “son of the stranger” [non-Hebrews who had come by faith to accept the God of the Scriptures] and “the eunuch” [castrated or disfigured men unable to procreate]had their place among His covenant people (Isaiah 56:3-4).

Yet, the inclusion among God’s people was not without duty, for they were to “keep [the] sabbath…and take hold of [God’s] covenant” (Isaiah 56:4). To “join themselves to the LORD,” non-Hebrew believers were to serve the LORD, love His name, “be His servants,” and keep “the sabbath from polluting it” (Isaiah 56:6).

None who came to the LORD by faith would be turned away. They could come to Zion (the “holy mountain”), offer sacrifices, and worship there because the Temple would “be called an house of prayer for all people”(Isaiah 56:7). Isaiah promised the LORD would not only gather “the outcasts of Israel” (those taken captive to other lands) but also “gather others to him” (Isaiah 56:8).


The Failure of Israel’s Leaders (Isaiah 56:9-12) 

Isaiah prophesied that hostile nations, described as “beasts of the field…[and] beasts in the forest,” would attack Judah (Isaiah 56:9). The nation’s spiritual leaders had failed to warn the people. The LORD’s “watchmen” (His prophets and priests) were spiritually blind, lacked discernment, and were lazy (Isaiah 56:10). They had become like “greedy dogs,” selfish and looking “to their own way (i.e., living for pleasures,” Isaiah 56:11).


Closing thoughts

Reminiscent of many unfaithful pastors in our day, the “shepherds” (spiritual teachers of Israel and Judah) were foolish. They were self-serving (56:11), drunk, and vain (Isaiah 56:12a). Rather than warn the nation about the consequences of breaking their covenant with the LORD; they convinced the people that every day would be the same. Tragically, they failed to warn the people that the judgment of the LORD was imminent (Isaiah 56:12b).

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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