A wonderful invitation for you

Text Isaiah 55 Time 29 11 09 Place Childs Hill Baptist Church
Have you got any invitations sat on your mantel piece at the moment – a wedding, a house warming, a Christmas or birthday party or some other special occasion? Invitations are usually nice things to receive.
In Isaiah 55:1 we have a wonderful and open gospel invitation to come to Christ. There we read
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.
In verses 2 and 3 there are arguments for accepting this invitation Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. The rest of the chapter fills out what is said in verse 1.
There are many such wonderful invitations in Scripture but this is surely one of the greatest. Isaiah 55 acts as a sort of epilogue to the whole long section that begins back in Isaiah 40. Isaiah has been talking about God’s salvation - how it has been prepared and how the Servant, the Christ, is going to bring it about. Now he emphasises the need to appropriate that salvation, to receive it. Let’s look at the invitation together then. Let’s consider it together by asking a series of questions.
1. Who gives this invitation?
Perhaps we can begin by considering who is speaking here. It starts quite suddenly and it is not immediately obvious who the speaker is. If you cast your eyes down to verses 8 and 9 though you will read these words For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. The speaker then is God himself. What it says in verses 8 and 9 is true in a general sense. When God thinks, his thoughts are greater than ours. When God acts, his acts are greater than our acts. What he thinks and does is infinitely superior to what we think and do. In the context, it is clear though that it is not so much the greatness and perfection of God that is in mind but the matchless purity of his thoughts and his ways.
We must see that this wonderful invitation is not from just anyone but one who is perfect in his thoughts and ways and in every single way. It is an invitation from God himself and so it demands out attention.
2. Who is this invitation for?
Now this is most interesting. Invitations are often given to those who are deserving in some way or who are likely to be able to give something in return at some point. But this invitation is specifically to those who have nothing, to those who can do nothing for themselves. Come, all you who are thirsty, it says. You who have no money, come, buy and eat. It is not for those who are quite satisfied and who have all they need. It is not for those who are rich and feel no thirst. Rather, it is for those who are the very opposite.
We are speaking in spiritual terms, of course, and on the basis of what is here I say – do you feel an emptiness in your soul, a thirst for completion, filling? Are you aware of an emptiness within, a lack in your soul? Have you ever felt like that? Do you understand what I mean? Then this invitation is for you and for people like you.
3. What is offered in this invitation?
The offer is to come to the waters to drink, to come, buy and eat! To come take wine and milk without money and without cost. Again, we are speaking in physical terms of spiritual things – spiritual food and drink.
We read of water – water can slake a thirst. Think of a hot summer day and a real thirst. Then of a cool refreshing glass of water. That is a picture of what is offered to your soul in the gospel.
More generally, it speaks of eating food. Again, food can remove hunger. Imagine a man in a desert. He's not eaten for days. Then a meal is miraculously provided for him. That is another picture of the satisfaction the gospel can bring to your soul.
It also speaks of wine. Wine suggests the joy that is found in heeding the Word of God. You may not like wine – we certainly need to take care with alcohol – but you know the happiness a glass of wine can bring to a person. Think how happy they all were at the Wedding in Cana when Jesus turned water into wine. Again, it is a picture of the effect of the gospel.
And milk - the life giving milk of the Word to make us fit and strong. If we take cow's milk as a familiar example, it is full of goodness. It contains 18 types of protein, Vitamins A, B1, B2, B12 and Vitamin D plus Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium – things that our bodies need to grow and be strong. In a similar way it is the gospel that restores a man's soul. We get a more specific idea of the things in mind from the previous chapter which speaks of peace (10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed) security (14 Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you) knowledge (13 All your sons will be taught by the LORD) righteousness (17 no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you). These and many other gifts come to those who accept this invitation. Here, at no cost, is all that your soul could desire, all that your soul could need. Here is satisfaction, filling, comfort, peace, security, freedom, every good thing. This is what we all need more than anything else. Not money or goods but these things.
4. Why should I consider this invitation?
The verse begins by calling for attention. More literally it can be translated Ho, every thirsty one, come to the waters, etc. Why should we give it our attention? There are many reasons why you should consider this wonderful invitation. We have already said that these words are spoken by God. Let me mention two more things here:
1. It's free. Here is a feast that is free.
There is a saying that there is no such thing as a free lunch. TINSTAAFL. It was the title of a book on economics in 1975 by Milton Friedman. It refers back to the 19th Century practice in American Saloons where they would offer a free lunch – as long as a you bought a certain number of drinks! It is a warning against supposing anything is really free and we probably all need a little reminder against being too gullible. However, here in the Bible it is God himself who says that the things he provides can be had without money and without cost. They are free. You pay nothing for this wonderful fare. It sounds to good to be true perhaps but that is the invitation and as it is God's invitation we have every reason to believe it and accept it. Often we can't have certain things because we cannot afford them but here it is quite different. This is what we most often refer to as the grace of God. The word Grace emphasises that God's gifts are free – without cost (as we say) at the point of use. Yes, it cost God. One way of remembering the word grace and what it means is with an acronym – God;s Riches At Christ's Expense.
2. It's full. Here is a feast that is superior to any other.
As we have said we have good reason to be suspicious of some so called free gifts. We are right to want to know what the catch is. But see how Isaiah goes on in verse 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy? The LORD pleads Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. What others have to offer is not really bread and does not satisfy. Your soul is left empty by those things. In Hebrews 13:9, 10 the writer says Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them. We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat. He is thinking of the Old Covenant priests who were still active at that time. There are other so called priests today too. They say come eat and you will find strength but it is a lie. You cannot gain anything from what they have to offer. Don’t waste your money and time on such inferior things. Rather, listen to this message and eat what is good. Your soul be assured will delight in the richest of fare.
5. What will happen if I respond positively to this invitation?
Just as it says here in verse 2 your soul will delight in the richest of fare. You will be delighted. Not your body but your soul itself will be satisfied. You will find fulfilment of a sort that you thought was not possible on earth. Just listen to this message, just accept this invitation and all your worst problems will be over.
6. How do I respond positively to this invitation?
You notice that the very first word in verse 1 is the word Come and that word is repeated several times in the same verse. 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. The verse implies drinking and also speaks of buying and eating. Verse 2 says Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good. Verse 3 begins Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. To come then is the same as to buy, eat or drink, to hear or listen and that is what is requested. It is something simple, basic, straightforward. That is all that is required from us. We have no money, we have only our hunger and thirst and so all that is required is to come or hear or buy without money or drink or eat. That is what faith is like – listening, coming, buying without money, drinking, eating. All these words help us to see what is required. They are all ways of speaking of faith. To believe is to be quiet and to listen to God. To have faith is to move from where we are and to come to Christ. It is to open your mouth and, as it were, have it filled. It is to eat and to be satisfied. It is to drink and so find your inner thirst quenched To buy something is to make it your own. We normally do that with money but here it is without money. That is the nature of faith.
Verses 6 and 7 expand further on what must be done. There are basically two things
1. Seek God and call on him.
Verse 6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. The call is to prayer, to earnestly seeking God with all our hearts. The while he may be found and while he is near are reminders that we cannot do this just when we like, when we fancy. Opportunities come and they go. Here is an opportunity for you today. Seek the Lord now if there is any desire in you at all. There may not be another opportunity. We cannot guarantee another opportunity.
Do you know the story of D L Moody and the great Chicago fire? One Sunday Moody preached in Chicago and he wasn’t able to say all he wished and so he urged the people to come back the next week and hear the rest. That week a great fire swept across the city and many were killed and so were not able to come and hear the message. From then on Moody resolved never to assume that he would have another opportunity to speak to a congregation. That must be right.
Preachers must preach, as Baxter put it, as dying men to dying men. I've often said to you who are younger that you must guard against the thought ‘I will seek God when I am older’. You can't think like that. There are no guarantees of later opportunities. Seek the Lord now – while he may be found. Call on him now – who knows when he will be near again. As a general rule you should never spurn the desire to pray – make the most of the opportunity when it comes.
2. Repent.
With true seeking of God there must be repentance. If there is no repentance it is not really seeking God. Verse 7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. By nature the lives we lead are wicked. We are on the broad road. We must leave that way behind. We must leave that path. We must forsake it. Not only must we turn from wicked ways but from evil thoughts also. Such ways of thinking must be left behind. Let him turn to the LORD it says. If we fail to do that we will be judged. We will be damned for our sins. It is only if we turn, if we repent, that there can be any hope.
Listen to the promise here Let him turn to the LORD and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. God is full of mercy. He is ready to pardon because of what Christ has done on the cross. All you have to do is to turn form is and turn to the Saviour. Turn to him today.
7. What advantages will come to me if I accept this invitation?
Verse 3 begins Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. That is the invitation – an invitation to life. If you accept it then you will truly live. You will know what the Bible calls eternal life. We can go into a little more detail about this. God also says in verse 3 I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. The promise is of the renewal of the promises that God made to David in the past. That is the picture. This is expanded a little in verses 4 and 5 - See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples. David’s victories acted as a witness to the world. He was a witness to the nations. We ought not to forget the extent of David’s kingdom. He ruled over a vast area as a leader and commander of the peoples. Now in a similar way God promises here to do something like that for Israel. Verse 5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendour.
Gentile nations are going to be added to the number of Israel. They will eagerly join the Jews because of God’s work in making Israel attractive to them. Of course, all this talk of David draws our minds inevitably to great David’s greater son. God’s love to David anticipated his love to his Son Jesus Christ. He has now established his kingdom on this earth forever and ever. It is by trusting in Christ that we enter into a covenant with God like that with David, a covenant not only to receive a blessing, so that our souls may live but also to be a blessing. Others will see the blessings you have received from God and will want also to share in them as you speak to them about Christ.
The final verses of the chapter are like others in Isaiah. Here again we have a wonderful picture of what it will be like when God’s people take up this invitation in earnest. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn bush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the LORD’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed. When the rain of God’s Word comes down as it were it will transform the landscape. As people take up this wonderful invitation so the face of society is changed, so it is renewed.
Ancient kings would often record their victories on stones but then other conquerors would come and destroy these stones. The victories that the LORD brings last forever. They never come to an end. Conclusion
So here is wonderful invitation from God himself. It is for everyone here today. It says 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. The invitation has gone out once again today. Who will respond? I am confident that there will be a response because of what we read in verses 10 and 11 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. God’s Word will most certainly be fulfilled. These are not empty promises. We can absolutely rely on them. We can give out this invitation with confidence. God will act.