Accept God’s Free Offer! – Isaiah 55:1-13
By pastor Lee Hemen
March 30, 2014 AM
How many churches offer Sunday School as a means of baby-sitting to over-worked parents so they can be safely separated without guilt from their children for an hour or so? How many adults think that the thirty-minute sermon on Sunday is all they need in studying the Bible, depending on the emotional high they get from the worship service? They fail to understand they are missing an important part of the Christian life–relating to other believers, building unity and fellowship of the local church! Too many settle for a cheap grace experience rather than mature growth. Why would anyone invest so little in their spiritual life when God wants to give them so much more?”
God declared He would restore Israel creating a righteous nation that would grow in number, territory, and faith. God would protect His people rather than punish them. God freely invited Israel to seek and know Him. He alone could provide the forgiveness, love, and restoration Israel needed. God’s salvation would extend even to all outcasts, such as eunuchs and foreigners, if they also obeyed God and followed Him. Those who returned to God would find peace and forgiveness. Despite God’s offer, some in Israel continued in their sinful ways, disobeying God in every way imaginable. Isaiah explains why we need to accept God’s free offer…
The words of God are not like WinCo or Wal-Mart; you cannot gain your understanding of them on the cheap. Isaiah teaches us that accepting God’s free offer is the…
I. Best Value! (Isaiah 55:1-5)
“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. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor 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. See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples. 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 splendor.” (Isaiah 55:1-5 NIV)
1. To call Israel to turn to God and find life, Isaiah employed the image of a street vendor selling wares in the open market. Street vendors, including vendors who sold water, were a typical part of daily life. They would be the Home Shopping Network or telemarketers of today. In every case, the individual attempts to make their product something you can’t live without. In contrast, God offers an essential necessity of life. “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.” Just as humans can survive only a few days without water, so humans cannot live a true life without God! Isaiah emphasized the urgency by using the imperative verbs “come, buy, and eat.” Israel badly needed what God could supply, and Israel would never find a better value! God offered it “without cost”. Israel could not buy what it needed because God offered it as a gift. Christians recognize who paid the purchase price; Jesus Christ paid the penalty for sin; and as a result gave us forgiveness and new life! Unfortunately when offered the best as a gift from God, many willingly settled for less. They chose what failed to satisfy and nourish them rather than what would bring them abundant life. God pleaded with the Israelites to pay attention and come to Him. “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.” Just as Israel could only experience true life by repenting and living in a right relationship with God, we can find life only through faith in Jesus Christ. “See”, Isaiah relates, God had made a “covenant” with David, promising to establish his throne forever. If the people would turn to God and follow Him, Israel would glorify God in a greater way than David. David was “a witness to the peoples” by creating a strong, united Israel. God’s empowered David to defeat Israel’s enemies and establish a kingdom. Investing in the best, Israel would find itself witnessing to those it did “not know”. The nations would listen to Israel’s witness, see its splendor, and come seeking God’s truth. Accepting God’s free offer found in His word was the best value for Israel just as it is for our lives!
EXAMPLE: By His power, God would save and restore His people. Israel’s restoration would be a witness to the nations of God’s reality as one true God. God first offered His spiritual nourishment to Israel, but He extended His offer to all the people of the world. God continues to offer what we most need, abundant life through His Son Jesus Christ. God offers us salvation. All we need do is accept His free gift. What can be a better value or investment for our lives? How has God’s gift of abundant life been the best value in your life? Accepting God’s free offer is the best value for our lives!
Rather than used things, we all like new things. We learn that accepting God’s free offer leads to a…
II. Brand-New Life! (Isaiah 55:6-7)
Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7 NIV)
1. Isaiah urged the Israelites to seek God. Seek sometimes refers to going to a place to worship God, but Isaiah knew his people needed to do more than simply participate in the temple worship. The Israelites needed to seek God continually as Lord of their life. They needed to repent of their sin, learn about God’s character, and follow God’s guidance for living. They needed to “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” Isaiah’s call to seek God while He may be found emphasized Israel’s necessity to act quickly. Was the prophet implying that at times God does not want to be found? Even more serious, was he implying that at times God cannot be found? The answer of course is no to both questions; as long as one is alive, God may be found. Interestingly, Scripture reminds us that it is God who does the finding! However, Isaiah was announcing a time of grace, the perfect time to hear God’s call and respond. He was emphasizing the importance of taking action immediately. Then, God does something interesting; He called all to Him, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” Wicked individuals disobey God, which leads to rebellious actions against God and others. Such people resist God and His invitation to develop a relationship with Him. As long as the wicked rejected God, they cut themselves off from an abundant life; yet, even the wicked could be “freely” pardoned! Isaiah reminded the Israelites that repentance led to God’s incredible compassion and forgiveness, not to God’s righteous anger and judgment. Accepting God’s free offer leads to a brand-new life!
EXAMPLE: New and abundant life can be found only in God. It is not found in momentary things, relationships, or in cheap grace. God calls us to develop a relationship with Him not so He can increase our guilt and punishment but so He can provide us with brand new life! Remember, Jesus reminds us that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV) What have been the most wonderful aspects of the new life you have received through Christ? Accepting God’s free offer leads to a brand-new life!
We often forget that God has a plan for each of our lives, we often fail to realize His potential in it. We discover that in accepting God’s free offer, He has a…
III. Blessed Purpose! (Isaiah 55:8-11)
“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. 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. (Isaiah 55:8-11 NIV)
1. This perhaps is one of the most important verses in the Bible for people to understand and learn. Isaiah emphasized the vast difference between God and humans. God thinks on a scale completely different from humans, planning and accomplishing what is beyond our wildest imagination. We have learned much about our world, science, and medicine; but we cannot ever comprehend all of God’s infinite wisdom and knowledge. Just as He reminded the Israelites, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways!” we need to understand this fact as well. God’s ways or behaviors differ drastically from ours. We might look at human sin and declare forgiveness an utter impossibility, but God created and enacted a plan to provide forgiveness to all who come to Him in faith. We likely would have declared God’s covenant with Israel null and void due to Israel’s continual disobedience, but God kept His promises to Abraham and his descendants. God’s ways show us how far we are from God and His standards for life. Rather than simply marveling at or ignoring God’s ways, we need to seek to know God on a deeper and more mature level and to live by His standards. In fact, God reminds us that, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” As high as the farthest reaches of the universe are, God’s ways are beyond our complete understanding. We cannot begin to imagine the greatness of God! Isaiah’s words provide us a helpful perspective. We cannot cross the chasm separating us from God and command Him to do our bidding. Instead, God has crossed the chasm in Christ and invited us to live for Him! Rain comprised a crucial natural resource in ancient Israel. If the rains fell and watered the crops, the people would have food that year and seed to plant for the next year’s crop. If the rains failed to come, the crops would wither and die, creating famine. Just as rain sustains physical life on earth, so God’s Word sustains spiritual life. God’s Word calls people to repent so they might experience forgiveness, abundant life, and a right relationship with their Creator. God’s Word then sustains this life by providing guidance, comfort, and help. He reminds us that “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!” In accepting God’s free offer, we discover a blessed purpose!
EXAMPLE: God’s Word always has proven reliable. What God declares, He will accomplish. The invitation to Israel to seek God and find life rested on His unchanging nature and love for His people. God’s invitation to us to enjoy an abundant life in Him rests on the same basis. When we seek God, His Word accomplishes its blessed purpose of providing us new life. What has God’s Word accomplished in your life? In accepting God’s free offer, we discover a blessed purpose!
And, finally, we discover perhaps the best part of accepting the free offer of God: It brings…
VI. Bountiful Joy! (Isaiah 55:12-13)
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.” (Isaiah 55:12-13 NIV)
1. The Old Testament uses the verb “go out” to refer to Israel’s exiles’ returning to Judah from Babylon. It conjures a powerful picture, but Isaiah had in mind more than freedom from an enemy and a return home! Isaiah envisioned his people moving into a new, deeper, more faithful relationship with God. As slaves and captives joyfully left the places where they had suffered, so Israel would move joyfully into the future with God. They would, “go out in joy and be led forth in peace”! God would peacefully guide His people into a wonderful new life. Even the “the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands!” Wow! What a beautiful picture! Israel’s turning to God would make all of creation rejoice! Sin affects not only our relationships with God and others but also all creation (Rom. 8:19-21). God’s work with His people creates a rippling effect through all nations and all creation, multiplying joy. The people of Israel knew all too well how thorn bush and brier could overtake an abandoned field. Their conquest resulted in the neglect of fields as these enemy armies took Israelites into exile. Thorns and briers choked fields that once had produced good crops. Replacing the thorn bush and briers with pine and myrtle indicated the land had become productive once more, just as He does in the life of the repentant sinner. Although Isaiah believed God would bring the exiles home from Babylon, the prophet referred to a new spiritual fruitfulness among his people. Seeking and obeying God would result in Israel’s being a witness to all the world. God’s work through Israel would make a name for God by revealing His nature to all people. This would be entirely for “the LORD’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.” Transforming Israel and creation completed the promise trilogy of God in Isaiah 54-55. First, God pledged His everlasting love to Israel (Isa. 54:8). Second, God promised to establish an everlasting covenant with all Israel like that with David (55:3). Finally, God declared He would transform His creation, acting in love and faithfulness to create an everlasting sign of His nature. What a wonderful thing to know that in accepting God’s free offer results in bountiful joy!
EXAMPLE: Isaiah perfectly described the joy filling those who accept God’s free offer of abundant life. A continuing, maturing relationship with God creates a deep, abiding joy that can celebrate even in times of difficulty. God invites all to seek Him, to be transformed by His love, and to experience the joy only He can provide. How has God brought deep abiding joy to your life, not the temporary happiness we often try to replace it with? Scripture reminds us that God sings and whistles for those He loves from the ends of the earth! What a wonderful thing to know that in accepting God’s free offer results in bountiful joy!
1. Accepting God’s free offer found in His word was the best value for Israel just as it is for our lives!
2. Accepting God’s free offer leads to a brand-new life!
3. In accepting God’s free offer, we discover a blessed purpose!
4. What a wonderful thing to know that in accepting God’s free offer results in bountiful joy!
This article is copyrighted © 2014 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.