“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.  Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.  Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples.  Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the LORD your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you. (ESV)
God, in his wisdom, has given us the ability to question him. And we have taken that talent and run with it, regularly asking God why. Why do you let the devil cause such conflict and violence in the world? Why do you allow me to suffer?
In this text of Holy Scripture from Isaiah 55, God turns the tables on us. He asks us why. Specifically, he asks why we spend our money for that which is not bread and our labor for that which does not satisfy.
It might be understandable if we spent our money or labor for things that are bread or things that do satisfy but we don’t. We spend our money and our labor on things that do not satisfy. Why do we keep doing that, the Lord wants to know.
This is especially troublesome since the Lord provides for free what is truly bread and what truly satisfies: “Come buy wine and milk without money and without price.” These free gifts truly satisfy our souls.
Then Isaiah explains that he is not talking about literal food: “Listen diligently to me and eat what is good…incline your ear and come to me, hear that your soul may live.
As Paul points out in Romans 9, the true children of God are not those born according to the flesh but those, like Isaac, who are born according to God’s promise.
The hearing that nourishes our souls like food is hearing God’s Word of promise. Hearing God’s Word of law crushes and condemns us. But when we hear God’s promises we are fed and nourished. As Paul points out in 2 Corinthians 1, all of God’s promises find their “Yes” in Jesus Christ.
Think about how promises can nourish and satisfy us. Someone promises us something we need or desire and we hold on to what they have promised. It “nourishes” our hope in them doing what they said they would do. God’s promises of grace and mercy for the sake of our Lord, Jesus Christ, work the same way.
Next Isaiah says that God will make an everlasting covenant with us, the steadfast, sure love to David. Let me assure you, if God offers you the same deal that he gave to David, take it.
David was a lowly shepherd boy that the Lord took and made king of Israel. Then, when David threw it all away due to lust, the Lord forgave him and restored him and promised that the Savior of the world would be one of his descendants. David rejoices in the steadfast love of the Lord in the many psalms he wrote.
So if God offers you the same deal he offered David take it. It is an everlasting deal.
Then Isaiah talks about witnessing. Specifically we will be witnesses to those who do not know us. And, in some cases, people who do not know us will run to us.
Now you may say, “Well, what about the people I know, it would be so much easier to be a witness to those I know.” Here again we are tempted to ask God, “Why?”
That’s what Paul thought, according to Romans 9. He desperately wanted his own people, the Jews, to accept Christ. They had all the credentials but they refused to believe. They refused to the point some were thinking that the Word of God had failed.
But Paul didn’t stop witnessing. He started witnessing to Gentiles and God richly blessed his witness. In some cases the Gentiles literally ran to hear Paul.
And today we could ask ourselves the same thing. Thousands of people who have had every chance to believe in Jesus, who have all the right credentials, are rejecting Christ. And some, I’m sure, are seeing what is happening and wondering if the Word of God has failed.
This would be a true tragedy except for the fact that in the meantime, God is bringing people we don’t know into the kingdom. As the church in the west declines, the church in Africa and in the Middle East is expanding. People we don’t know and have little in common with are coming to the Lord.
One of our retired mission executives has a blog that is all about missionaries to America. Each blog post is about an individual from a country where Christians are in the minority who comes to Christ and then ends up in the US and then starts witnessing to people. Their stories are fascinating and fit right in with what Isaiah says in our text.
And in some cases these missionaries to America have ended up right in the neighborhoods of Christian churches that are struggling to survive. These missionaries have come in and brought new life to these churches. Clearly in these cases the Word of God has not failed.
Now, if your own people are believers and have come to Christ you are truly blessed. Never stop thanking God for that. But if, for whatever reason the people you know do not accept Christ, then keep in mind that God still has a plan for you. He will bring people you don’t even know to you. They will come running to you.
And the reason they will come is not you, it is because of the Lord. They shall run to you because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you. The Lord displays his everlasting love and mercy in us.
There was once a pastor who went on vacation. When he got back from vacation and was getting ready for the next Sunday’s service he noticed that one of the pieces of paper that he kept on the altar to use in the weekly prayers was missing.
The pastor went looking for the paper and found it in the garbage. He noticed that the paper had not touched anything gross in the garbage can, it was still in good shape, so he faced a dilemma. Should he just take the paper out of the garbage and put in on the altar?
Initially that’s what the pastor did. But then the pastor got to thinking that, even though no one else would know that the paper had been in the garbage, he would know and it would bother his conscience so he went ahead and printed a new copy and put it on the altar.
In some ways this is similar to what the Lord has done for us. He has taken us out of the garbage of sin and death and placed us, not just in some corner of the kingdom, he has placed us on his holy altar. And in Christ we can be confident that he does not even remember that we were formerly in the garbage can. That is why people will come to us. Because of what the Lord has done to glorify us.
In addition, just as that piece of paper was not damaged even though it was thrown into the garbage, if anyone ever throws us into the garbage, God promises that we will not be harmed in any way.