Isaiah is filled with God’s invitations to sinners, because this is the essence of His compassionate character. Above all, God is a Saviour.
1. The invitation is explained in verse 3. It is the offer of eternal life through David’s Son, the Messiah. The everlasting covenant is God’s promise that David’s seed would have an eternal kingdom (2 Sa. 7:12-13, 16). In Romans 1, Paul connected the gospel of Christ with God’s promise to David. Christ is the seed of David who inherits God’s promises. He was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection, and the risen Christ is calling sinners from all nations by the gospel (Ro. 1:4-6; 2 Th. 2:14). God’s everlasting covenant with David extends, therefore, to any sinner who receives Christ, both Jew and Gentile.
2. God’s invitation to salvation has been given throughout history. It was preached before the flood by prophets such as Abel and Enoch. It was preached by Noah during the building of the ark (2 Pe. 2:5). It was believed by Gentiles such as Rahab and Ruth. It was preached in the days of Solomon to the kings of the earth (1 Ki. 4:34). It was preached by Israel’s prophets such as Jonah and Isaiah. It has been preached to the ends of the earth for the 2,000 years of church history. It will be preached by Jewish evangelists during the Tribulation (Re. 7, and it will be preached in Christ’s kingdoms (Isa. 60:3).
3. Salvation is for all (Isa. 55:1).
The invitation to “come” is repeated three times in one verse. The New Testament tells us that God was motivated to provide salvation because of His love for the whole world of sinners (John 3:16). He would have all men to be saved (1 Ti. 2:3-4). The gospel of Jesus Christ is a “whosoever will” gospel. It is for Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, male and female, young and old.
4. Salvation is fervently offered (“ho,” Isa. 55:1).
The offering of salvation is an act of great love, and God’s call to sinners is not halfhearted. We see this in Christ’s fervent offers (e.g., John 7:37).
5. Salvation is for the thirsty (“every one that thirsteth,” Isa. 55:1).
Jesus often used the picture of a thirsty person to signify what is necessary to receive salvation. Compare John 4:14; 6:35; 7:17.
To thirst for salvation means to recognize one’s need for it and to desire it. The individual must acknowledge his guilt before God because of his sin and his inability to pay the sin debt. We see this explained in Christ’s dealing with the woman at the well in John 4. Christ led her to acknowledge her sin and her need for salvation (Joh. 4:15-18).
6. Salvation is free (Isa. 55:1).
Salvation was purchased by Christ as described in Isaiah 53, and it is offered as free gift to sinners.
7. Salvation must be received.
“come” is repeated four times (Isa. 55:1, 3).
Salvation is not universal. There is no automatic salvation for all sinners. Salvation is available for all, but it must be individually received.
The individual must incline the ear and hearken diligently (Isa. 55:3). He must seek the Lord (Isa. 55:6). He must call upon Him (Isa. 55:6). The sinner must be willing to hear the gospel and make an effort to understand it. There is no example in Scripture of someone being saved who didn’t do this. We think of the woman at the well (John 4), the Jews at Pentecost (Acts 2), Cornelius (Acts 10), the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:27-39), Lydia (Acts 16:14), the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:29-32), and those who believed Paul’s preaching in Athens (Acts 17:34). In Christ’s Parable of the Sower, those who do not make an effort to understand the Word have it snatched away by the devil (Mt. 13:19).
The individual must eat and drink (Isa. 55:1). Salvation is not merely thinking about Jesus and learning about Jesus. It is receiving Him and knowing Him and walking with Him. Someone can examine and admire a cup of water and a loaf of bread without actually drinking and eating, and that is true of many people in regard to the gospel. They attend church or a Bible study and they admire Jesus, but they do not personally receive Him as Lord and Saviour.
8. Salvation is a feast (Isa. 55:1-2).
God’s salvation is not merely bread and water; it is wine and milk; it is delighting in fatness. It is “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled” (1 Pe. 1:4). It is to be brought into “the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Ro. 8:21). It is citizenship in the eternal paradise of the New Jerusalem (Re. 21-22). It is “life more abundantly” (Joh. 10:10).
9. Salvation satisfies (Isa. 55:2).
This is in contrast to human philosophy and false religion which does not satisfy.
God’s salvation is described as rivers of living water (Joh. 7:37-38). Jesus promised the woman at the well that if she drank of His water, she would never thirst again (Joh. 4:14). He made the same promise in John 6:35, “he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” There is permanent and deep satisfaction in Christ. Once the soul finds Him, there is no need for anything else. This is true in my case. I studied many philosophies and religions, but after I came to know Christ and believed in His Word, I have never had any interest in other “paths.”
God asks men why they seek satisfaction in things that are not true. He is the only Source of goodness and delight. He says, “hearken diligently unto me.” Those who seek Him find true life in all of its wonderful dimensions.
10. Salvation is for those who seek the Lord (Isa. 55:6).
No one can be saved if he doesn’t care enough about the gospel to try to understand it. As we have already noted, there is no example of someone being saved in the Bible who wasn’t willing to listen. There are soul winning techniques that attempt to manipulate people into praying a sinner’s prayer when they aren’t interested, but that is not salvation; it is cheap salesmanship. God requires that sinners seek Him. Compare Acts 17:26-27.
11. Salvation must be received at the right time (Isa. 55:6).
The offer of salvation has an end. No sinner has a promise of tomorrow. Today is the day of salvation (2 Co. 6:2). After death, it is too late to be saved (Lu. 16:26). After the Rapture, it is too late to be saved for those who have heard the gospel (2 Th. 2:11-12).
12. Salvation is sure and everlasting (Isa. 55:3-4).
The full price was paid by Christ. Just as God promised David a sure and everlasting kingdom (2 Sa. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4), so He promises every believer a sure and everlasting redemption (Joh. 3:16). The doctrine of “eternal security” is built on the promises of a God who cannot lie.
Salvation is an abundant pardon (Isa. 55:7). The blood of Christ provides eternal perfection before God (Heb. 10:14).
13. Salvation must be received with repentance (Isa. 55:7).
To forsake one’s way and one’s thoughts and to “return unto the Lord” is a description of repentance. It means to turn from my way to God’s way. It means to reject my thinking for God’s thinking. Man was created to submit to God and to live in communion with God and dependence on God. He wasn’t created to follow his own thinking and pursue his own way independent of God. Repentance is to surrender to the design that God planned for man before Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s authority. Repentance is something that happens in the mind and heart, as in the case of the Prodigal Son. He changed his mind toward the father before he ever started back to the father’s house (Lu. 15:17-19). Repentance is to turn to God from idols (1 Th. 1:9). Note that the turning to God in the heart is what causes the turning from idols. Repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of life. The changed life is not salvation; it is the evidence of and product of repentance and saving faith.
14. Salvation is a product of God’s wisdom (Isa. 55:8-9).
This describes God’s omniscience and eternal wisdom. Compare Ps. 147:5; Isa. 40:28; Ro. 11:33. God’s thoughts are higher than man’s as the heavens are higher than the earth. The heavens are countless light years higher than the earth! Even the sun, the nearest star, is far beyond man’s reach. All treasures of wisdom are hidden in Christ (Col. 2:3), and His people will learn from Him forever.
This describes man’s inability to know God by his own power; it describes the necessity of divine revelation. Man is utterly dependent upon God’s revelation for the answer to all of life’s big questions. Those who trust in man will be disappointed (Jer. 17:5-9). The great philosophers of history, such as Plato of Greece and Confucius of China and Hegel of Germany, trusted their own thinking and observation for enlightenment, but they lacked the capacity to know ultimate truth.
This describes the superiority of the gospel. The gospel of God’s free grace in Jesus Christ is far beyond man’s thinking and the conceptions of human religion. Its debasement of man is too great, and its conception of God is too high. Man would never have conceived of describing himself as such an awful sinner that his very righteousness is as filthy rags, that he is deserving of eternal judgment and that nothing he can do can save him. And man would never have conceived of a God who is so holy and just that He had to sacrifice His own Son to justify sinners and of a God who is so compassionate that He was willing to do such a thing and of a God who was so wise as to conceive such a thing and of a God who is so powerful that He could bring to pass such a thing. In the gospel, God made a way for His law to be exalted and yet for law breakers to be forgiven (Ro. 3:26).
15. Salvation comes by God’s Word (Isa. 55:10-11).
God has spoken. His Word has gone forth. It was given to holy prophets of old who wrote their messages under inspiration of God’s Spirit (2 Ti. 3:15-16; 2 Pe. 1:21). The Scriptures were collected and canonized under direction of the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures are therefore God’s words, spoken by the mouths of His holy prophets.
God’s Word is an expression of His eternal wisdom. The Scripture contains the deep things of God (1 Co. 2:9). It contains the mind of Christ (1 Co. 2:16).
God’s Word is likened to the rain that waters the earth.
Both the rain and the Word are God’s gifts to bless mankind. Both are evidences of His great kindness and grace toward fallen creatures who willfully rebelled against Him.
Both the rain and the Word are sure and effectual. The hydrological system has continued from creation to serve man’s needs on earth. It has not failed to accomplish God’s objective. Likewise, God’s Word has the objective of revealing God’s character and saving souls and establishing God’s eternal kingdom, and nothing can stop it. Verses 12-13 explain verse 11. God’s promises will be fulfilled; His covenants will be enacted; His prophecies are sure. The effectualness of God’s Word encourages the preacher, teacher, and evangelist. “What an encouragement it should be for every servant of Christ to remember that God has declared that His word will accomplish that for which He has sent it. Sometimes preachers may get a little discouraged thinking they are talking, as it were, against a brazen wall, but God’s Word will never return to Him void. The prophetic Word will have a complete fulfillment in God’s due time” (Ironside).
Both the rain and the Word are miraculous. Earth’s hydrological system is one of the wonders of creation. It is the product of an all-wise, all-powerful God. Every aspect of the hydrological system fits together perfectly and works together as a whole to produce the objective of providing water for man’s needs. The Word of God in Scripture is even more amazing. It was written by men but the words are God’s. It was written over a period of about 1,600 years by 40 authors, but every part fits perfectly into the whole so that it speaks with one voice.
Both the rain and the Word bring life. Even in a seemingly barren desert, vegetative life springs forth after the rain. Likewise, God’s Word produces spiritual life in the desert world of sin and spiritual death.
Both the rain and the Word are God’s sovereign plans. He planned everything before the creation was made. He doesn’t have to give account to anyone, and doesn’t have to have anyone’s advice. “... it shall accomplish that which I please” (Isa. 55:11). This does not mean that everything that happens is God’s decree and pleasure. God’s will mysteriously encompasses man’s will. God gave man freedom of will. The Father’s will is “that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life” (Joh. 6:40). That is the sovereign will of the eternal God. He is not willing that any should perish (2 Pe. 3:9), but multitudes will perish because of their choice not to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
In these verses we see God’s character. He is compassionate in giving men such unspeakable blessings. He is all-wise in inventing such amazing things. He is all-powerful in His ability to make such things and in that nothing can thwart His will. He is sovereign. And He is a Saviour who desires to bring life out of death.
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