Favorite Scriptures: Isaiah 55:1-3

Another favorite Scripture passage of mine is found in Isaiah 55. To me, this is such a beautiful picture of who God is, and what He desires for us, and what He has for those who turn to Him and follow Him. And with all the feasting imagery, it’s perfect for Thanksgiving week!

“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.”

~Isaiah 55:1-3

So many people have this idea that God is a killjoy, demanding and disapproving. That He stands back and watches us try to get to Him, with His arms crossed and a scowl on His face, demanding that we cross all our t’s and dot all our i’s perfectly or provoke His wrath. That He keeps score, and doesn’t help anyone unless they perfectly obey everything He says. Like an anti-Santa Claus with a list of our sins vs. good deeds, just waiting to punish people and throw lightning bolts from heaven, or gleefully dole out punishments when the balance tips in the wrong direction.

But here’s the thing: that’s so. very. wrong.

And the truth is so. very. good. 

In this passage in Isaiah, God is inviting us to a feast! Knowing that we have no way to pay for it! With wine and everything! (Wait, what?) Doesn’t that sound like a God you’d be glad to come to?

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;”

Okay, we start with water. (The wine is coming, don’t worry!) 

He invites “everyone who thirsts”…which I’m pretty sure includes all of us. Obviously as humans, we all physically need water to live. Here, of course, water is a metaphor for deeper things. Are you “thirsty” in your soul? Is there a sense of dissatisfaction in your life? Something important that you lack? A feeling that you’re missing something, a longing for wholeness, for spiritual refreshment, for security, for peace, for a love you can trust? Here is an invitation for you to come and drink. There are ‘waters’ to truly quench your thirst. A way to relieve that continual discomfort. God knows what we need, and He offers it to us.

“and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!”

So here is food, too. Nourishment. And He is specifically inviting those who have no money! Which, also: all of us. The things we thirst and hunger for, spiritually, we have no way to pay for, no way to get on our own. Otherwise, we’d all be satisfied already, wouldn’t we? Aren’t we all already doing everything we can to feel satisfied in life? But we can’t achieve that on our own. And not one of us can pay God for anything. How could we? Every good thing we have was given to us by God in the first place! But still He calls to us, offering what we long for. How beautiful is that?

“Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”

See? Wine! God is NOT a killjoy! 

So we are offered water, food, and now wine and milk, too, although we have no way to pay for any of it. Of course, each of these represents something different: water is spiritual refreshment. Wine represents joy and cheer. (So God is actually the opposite of a killjoy — He intends for His children to be joyful, and He even provides the joy!) Milk and food represent nourishment, for health and energy and growth. Everything we need, and more. All 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?”

God knows where we’ve been spending our energies and efforts. If we’re not already satisfied in Him (and sometimes even when we are, or when we should be), we are spending our resources — time, money, energy, attention — on things that will not satisfy us. He is the only One who provides what we need. But we are easily fooled, easily convinced that other things will satisfy us and that God will not. We can rest assured (and remind ourselves) that God does not disappoint, that He intends for us to be fulfilled, and that He Himself is what our souls long for. And we can stop wasting our resources on all those other things.

“Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.”

Eat what is good. Delight yourselves in rich food. Delight yourselves! Does that sound like someone who’s looking to throw lightning bolts? No, THIS is the God we serve, the God who loves us: desiring for us to be fully satisfied, not hungry, not scavenging, not scraping by. Desiring for us to be delighted! He invites us to eat rich spiritual food. A feast! Delicious, inviting, satisfying. He provides the means for our souls to be fully, completely content — not because we white-knuckle our way to contentment, or because we fake it ‘til we make it, or because we just decide to be satisfied with less, but because He provides good, rich, filling, delightful food. And what is our part? We must listen diligently. We must put our attention on Him.   

“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.”

He calls us to listen to Him and to come to Him and to hear Him not so He can punish us and pummel us with an iron fist, not so He can point out just how terrible we are, but so we may LIVE. So we may flourish. So we may be satisfied, content, at peace, joyful, fulfilled. All that He does is for our good. Truly. The God of the universe wants us to really, truly LIVE, and He has done all the work to make that possible for us, because He knew we couldn’t do it on our own. 

He wants to make an everlasting covenant with us. And I love that He mentions David, here — this is King David — because we have it on record that David was far from perfect, just like we are. All kinds of mess in his choices, just like in ours. And yet God is faithful to those who have turned to Him — He upholds the covenant, even though we can’t — and He fulfilled all His promises to David, and His love for David was shown to be sure and steadfast, even when David was anything but sure and steadfast.

And as a last beautiful connection, Isaiah 55 was written more than 700 years before the birth of Jesus, but here’s John 6:35: “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.”” And here’s Matthew 26:27-28: “Then He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Bread. Water. Covenant. All provided for us in and through Jesus.

So, even though this Thanksgiving is sure to feel less satisfying than we want, I hope we’ll still be reminded that God Himself calls us to feast — and that He means for us to be fully, completely satisfied. 

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters…”

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