“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 (ESV)
Contrary to what we might have expected, this invitation and this promise are offered to people who were already outwardly members of the people of God. The nations aren’t excluded here—the invitation is given to all who are thirsty—but there’s no explicit summons to them, either. The invitation is framed in terms of what God did in and for David. The point, which Isaiah has been making all along, is clear: though Israel has heard the law, and has heard the prophets, and they have all kinds of head knowledge about God, that hasn’t translated for them into any kind of real relationship with him. They consider him their God because they’re Israelites and he’s the God of Israel, and doesn’t everybody in this country worship God?—but many of them haven’t answered his invitation. Some probably haven’t really heard it before. They haven’t learned that there’s more to their faith than just being a faithful templegoer.
Indeed, there’s far more. The challenge to us of Isaiah’s expansive invitation is—do we still need to hear it? Have we really accepted it, or are we no different than the Israelites? In this country, it’s very easy to be a Christian, and that means there are a lot of folks who are outwardly Christian for all the wrong reasons, with no inward reality, no real faith in Christ. The church has to shoulder a lot of the blame for that, of course, because there are a lot of churches in this country that don’t give people God’s invitation, that don’t challenge people with the call of the gospel; it’s easier not to, after all, easier just to give people what they already know they want to hear. Even for the church, it’s easier to serve junk food.
Despite all this, underneath and through it all, God’s invitation still goes out: “Come, all of you who hunger and thirst; come to me, that you may live.” And we need to ask ourselves: have we really done that, are we really living in God? Or do we still need to accept it?
(Excerpted, edited, from “The Invitation”)
Photo: Elakala Waterfall 1. © 2006 ForestWander (http://www.ForestWander.com). License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States.