VERSE OF THE DAY
Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near.
So you should look for the Lord before it is too late. You should call to him now, while he is near. Lord comes at his time and gives no second chances
Isaiah Chapter 55
Isaiah 55 – An Invitation to Receive the Glory of the LORD’s Restoration
A. An invitation to receive blessing.
1. (1-2) An invitation to be richly fed.
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
a. Ho: The prophet calls out, loud and clear, to all that can hear. This is an important announcement and is therefore prefaced with this unique call.
i. “Ho! – this is the gospel note; a short, significant appeal, urging you to be wise enough to attend to your own interests. Oh, the condescension of God! That he should, as it were, become a beggar to his own creature, and stoop from the magnificence of his glory to cry, ‘Ho!’ to foolish and ungrateful men!” (Spurgeon)
b. Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters: It is an invitation to everyone – specifically, to everyone who thirsts. Only those who thirst will come to the waters. If we aren’t thirsty for what the LORD can give us, then we will never come to His waters.
i. Jesus may have had this passage from Isaiah in mind when He cried out, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. (John 7:37)
c. You who have no money, come, buy, and eat: Those who do thirst, and answer the LORD’s invitation, don’t need to bring money. Their money won’t really do them any good. They can simply bring their trust and faith and receive what God has to give them.
d. Waters…. wine…milk: It’s all free. It isn’t that the entrance into the Christian life is free, and then we must be charged to advance in the Christian life. It’s all free; our growth is just as much a gift of grace as our salvation.
i. “You are not permitted to drink freely of water, and then to purchase wine. You are not invited to come and eat freely that which is good, and then to spend your labour for that which is fat. No, the richest dainties of God’s house are as free as the bread he gives to hungry souls.” (Spurgeon)
e. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? In His invitation, God asked His people to ask themselves – “Why do I spend money for what can’t satisfy?” This is a remarkably relevant question, in light of all the things we can pour our time and money and effort into – things which will never satisfy the way the LORD can satisfy.
f. Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance: The invitation is clear. The offer is made, the provision is made, and everything is available – but we must still do some things.
i. First, we must listen carefully. The satisfaction God promises eludes those who will not both listen and listen carefully. It takes time, attention, and effort to listen carefully, and some aren’t willing to do this.
ii. Second, we must eat what is good. This requires some discernment. We must choose what is good, and then eat that. Many just simply eat whatever spiritual meal is set before them, without taking care to see that it is good.
iii. Third, we must let your soul delight itself in abundance. Even when we listen, even when we eat what is good, we still must let our soul delight itself in abundance. You can sit down at a great spiritual meal, but by your stubborn or bad attitude, simply not let your soul delight itself in abundance.
2. (3-5) An invitation to be wonderfully led.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—
The sure mercies of David.
Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people,
A leader and commander for the people.
Surely you shall call a nation you do not know,
And nations who do not know you shall run to you,
Because of the LORD your God,
And the Holy One of Israel;
For He has glorified you.”
a. Incline your ear: The thought carries over from the idea of let your soul delight itself in abundance. Whoever will genuinely “feast” upon the word must consciously incline their ear towards what God will say. This explains why two people can listen to the same message, and one benefit and the other not. Often, the one who did not benefit simply did not incline their ear to the LORD.
b. Hear, and your soul shall live: The benefit from inclining your ear to God is impressive. When we do it, we have life for our soul.
c. And I will make an everlasting covenant with you – the sure mercies of David: For the one who will listen to the LORD, God promises a covenant. From Isaiah’s perspective, this covenant is still in the future (I will make). The covenant is also characterized by the sure mercies of David.
i. God showed His great mercy to David; not only by sparing David’s life when he was guilty of murder and adultery, but also in blessings and preserving and guiding David every day of his life. If God promises us the same mercy He showed to David, we are blessed indeed.
ii. As well, the mercies of David are sure. They are certain. God never gave up on David, never stopped showing him mercy. We can count on God when He promises to us the sure mercies of David.
d. I have given him as a witness to the people, a leader and a commander for the people: God promised the blessing of good and wise leadership as a part of His sure mercies. God gave David and his remarkable leadership as a gift to Israel; here God promised that He would keep giving this gift according to the pattern shown in David.
i. David was a witness in the sense that he had a real relationship, a real experience with God, and could speak to Israel as a witness of what he had seen and heard in that relationship with God. Notice that David was a witness to the people. A witness to, not of the people. David did not lead through popularity polls or just giving the people what they wanted. He witnessed something from God, and he gave testimony of it to the people.
ii. David was a leader for Israel, leading them spiritually, politically, and militarily. He led both by his godly example and his shepherd’s heart. Notice that David was a leader and a commander for the people. Not a leader and a commander of the people, but for the people. He led with a shepherd’s heart that genuinely desired God’s best for the people.
iii. It’s curious that David is used here as God’s prototype for a leader. Curious in many ways, because David’s reign can be seen as quite troubled. He came to the throne of Israel through much struggle and difficulty. He slipped into terrible scandal, marked by murder and adultery. There was incest, rape, and murder among his own children. His reign was marred by an ugly civil war, in which his own son almost deposed him. Yet David is here lifted up as a wonderful leader of God’s people! This shows that David’s heart after God meant more than outward success, comfort, and ease. It also shows that God’s best and most effective leaders don’t necessarily have it easy.
iv. David was a commander for Israel. Even with his tender shepherd’s heart, his leadership was bold and out-front. Because he had a sense of the heart of God, being a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), he could boldly lead God’s people.
v. These prophecies are fulfilled spiritually when God gives wonderful, David-like leadership to His people. They will be fulfilled ultimately when David – literal King David in his resurrection body – reigns over Israel in the millennium, the 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ over this earth.
·Of that time, Jeremiah 30:9 says, But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.
·In Ezekiel 34:23-24 the LORD promises, I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them; My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken.
·Ezekiel 37:25 continues, Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever.
vi. We have indications that as God’s people rule with Jesus over the millennial earth, people will be entrusted with geographical regions according to their faithfulness (Luke 19:12-19). It seems that David’s glorious portion will be to rule over Israel.
e. Surely you shall call a nation you do not know, and nations who do not know you shall run to you: Was this addressed to Israel, or to David as the leader and commander of God’s people? Possibly both. Certainly, its ultimate fulfillment is in the millennium, when the nations will flock to Israel (Isaiah 60:5, 60:9).
f. Because of the LORD your God, and the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified you: Why do the nations flock to David and/or Israel? Because the LORD has lifted them up, in accordance with His blessings of restoration.
3. (6-7) An invitation to be forgiven.
Seek the LORD while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the LORD,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
a. Seek the LORD while He may be found: The prophet impresses a sense of urgency on God’s people. “This is the time. God can be found now. Seek Him now.” It isn’t that God is hidden and can only be found now. It is that He can only be found when our hearts are inclined to look for Him, and that inclination itself is a gift from God! We must receive the gift and make the most of it while we have it. Not seeking and failing to call upon Him while He is near, means we will not receive the blessings He promises.
b. Let the wicked forsake his way: The prophet impresses the need for repentance among God’s people. Repentance is simply turning around our way – turning from our own way, turning to God’s way. Simply, this is what it means to return to the LORD, and we can never walk on God’s way until we forsake our own way. The LORD’s glorious restoration works in and through our repentance.
i. Isaiah made an important point when he wrote, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Wickedness may be demonstrated by our actions (our way), but unrighteousness can be found in our very thoughts. The battleground for a righteous walk with the LORD is often found in our minds, in our thoughts.
ii. The Apostle Paul knew this also when he wrote of bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), and how we must not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).
c. And He will have mercy on him: What a glorious promise! When we turn to the LORD, He will have mercy on us! In fact, He will abundantly pardon! The problem is never that we turn to the LORD and find that He rejects us. The problem is that we fail to return to the LORD.
B. The glorious ways of the LORD.
1. (8-9) A reminder of the difference and distance between God and man.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
a. For My thoughts are not your thoughts: God doesn’t think the way we do. We get into a lot of trouble when we expect that He should think as we do. Because we are made in the image of God, we can relate to God’s thoughts, but we cannot master them.
b. Nor are your ways My ways: God doesn’t act the way we do. He does things His way, and His ways are often not our ways. We get into a lot of trouble when we expect that God should act the way we do.
c. For as the heavens are higher than the earth: How far is the distance between God’s thoughts and ours? How far is the distance between His ways and ours? The distance is as great as the heavens are higher than the earth.
i. Gloriously, in Jesus Christ, heaven has come down to earth, and we can have our thoughts and ways transformed to be more like God’s thoughts and ways. This is what it means to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). The distance will never be closed; God will always be God, and we will always be human. But when our salvation is complete, and we are united with the LORD in glory, the distance will be as close as is possible.
ii. The difference and distance between God and man is revealed, not to discourage us from seeking Him, but to keep us humble as we seek. “You may conclude that it is not intended that you should understand the infinite, for you are told that his thoughts and ways are far above you; but you are required to seek him while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near.” (Spurgeon)
2. (10-11) The glorious operation of the word of God.
“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
a. For as the rain comes down: Using the figure of the water cycle, the LORD illustrates the essential principle that His word shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please. Rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return before serving their purpose on earth (they water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud). The rain and snow eventually do return to heaven, but not before accomplishing their purpose on earth. Even so, God’s word, when He sends it down from heaven, does not return to Him void. Instead, it always fulfills His purpose on earth.
i. This means that God is not just “talk.” When He talks, His words accomplish His intended purpose. The word of the LORD has power, and it never fails in His intended purpose.
ii. “It is an irrevocable word. Man has to eat his words, sometimes, and unsay his say. He would perform his engagement, but he cannot. It is not that he is unfaithful, but that he is unable. Now this is never so with God. His word never returns to him void. Go, find ye the snowflakes winging their way like white doves back to heaven! Go, find the drops of rain rising upward like diamonds flung up from the hand of a mighty man to find a lodging-place in the cloud from which they fell! Until the snow and the rain return to heaven, and mock the ground which they promised to bless, the word of God shall never return to him void.” (Spurgeon)
b. Make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater: The use of these pictures to illustrate the operation of God’s word shows that God’s word brings forth fruit. It also shows that the fruit has many different applications. The same grain that gives seed to the sower also gives bread to the eater.
c. It shall accomplish what I please: God’s word has something to accomplish. God doesn’t just speak to hear Himself talk. His word is not empty or lacking in power. This also means that God’s word has a purpose. He didn’t speak in unfathomable mysteries just to blow our minds, or confuse us, or leave things up to any possible interpretation. When God speaks, He speaks to accomplish a purpose.
d. It shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it: God’s word doesn’t barely get the job done. It shall prosper in the purpose God has for it. It is rich and full of life. God’s word always succeeds, and always fulfills God’s purpose.
i. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter how God’s word is presented. Sometimes a terrible sermon has been excused by saying, “God’s word doesn’t return void.” The principle is clear and true from this passage of Isaiah, but because of the preacher’s poor preparation or preaching, there has been little of God’s word set before the people. The preacher can ignore, dilute, or obscure God’s word so that little goes forth. When little goes forth, that little will succeed – but how much better if more of the whole counsel of God went forth to succeed.
3. (12-13) The joy and blessing of restoration.
“For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;
And it shall be to the LORD for a name,
For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
a. For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace: When God’s people turn to Him, listen to Him, and His Word does His work in them, joy and peace are always the result. The joy is so great, that even the mountains and the hills, and the trees of the field join in.
b. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree: Where before there was barrenness and reminders of the curse (the thorn), now there will be beautiful and useful trees. The picture is clear; in His glorious work of restoration, God takes away the barren and the cursed, and brings forth beauty and fruit.
c. It shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off: When the LORD restores, all the work is done for His name, and for His glory. When the LORD restores, the work is secure; it is an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
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What Does it Mean to ‘Seek the Lord While He May Be Found’?
“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” Isaiah 55:6 (NIV)
Seeking the LORD while he may be found means coming to Him fully through the way Jesus made on the cross, and being filled by the Holy Spirit, which allows us the capability to experience and understand God on a supernatural level. A more recognizable verse in this chapter of Isaiah lies just a few verses past the one above. It proclaims, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD” (Is. 55:8 NIV). Isaiah prophesied of the coming Messiah, the rescue of God’s people from an exile that hadn’t happened yet, and the eventual restoration of God’s Kingdom on earth.
What Does the Bible Mean by ‘Seek the Lord While He May Be Found’?
“Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near.” Isaiah 55:6 (NLT)
The New International Version of Isaiah chapter 55 is titled, “Invitation to the Thirsty.” The New Living Translation titles it “Invitation to the LORD’s Salvation.” The English Standard Version, “The Compassion of the LORD.” The Passion Translation, “Invitation to an Abundant Life.” The Message Paraphrase, “But Without Money.” And the Amplified Bible, “The Free Offer of Mercy.” These chapter headings aid us in understanding the meaning of verse 6. Found, in this context, has 26 different definitions according to Strongs, some meaning to find or attain, to encounter, learn, meet, to be found. We are no longer separated from God as His people were at the time Isaiah was writing. He is accessible to us through Christ Jesus and wants us to turn to Him through His Son so He can fill us with His Holy Spirit!
Isaiah’s name means “The Lord Saves.” (NIV) The great prophet spent most of his life in Jerusalem and was married with children. In his divinely inspired message, he was projected into the future, much like the apostle John was in writing the book of Revelation. He warned Judah of their exile and spoke of their restoration by God, the Messiah to come, and God’s Kingdom on earth. “Through the work of God’s Messiah, people who do not know the Lord will come to know him,” the NIV Study Bible explains. “We need forgiveness, and we cannot pay for it. The good news of the suffering servant, however, is that God has paid the price for it. Justice has been satisfied through a sufficient substitute.”
The Book of Isaiah highlights God’s sovereignty, judgement, compassion, and salvation. His heart for His people (and us) not to perish without hope is evident in His promise to restore them continually, though they are constantly falling by the wayside. We pick up with Isaiah in chapter 55, when he is speaking of the predicted restoration from exile. Spiritual thirst describes a deep need for God. Isaiah 41:17 says, “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.” (NIV)
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Isaiah begins chapter 55 by stating: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no many, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” Is. 55:1 (NIV)
Jesus proclaims He is the Living Water in the New Testament, but at the time Isaiah is writing, He has yet to come. Through Jesus, we experience a quenching of thirst in our souls, which was impossible to achieve before He defeated death on the cross.
Why Would Isaiah Say ‘Seek the Lord’ to the Israelites?
“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.” Isaiah 55:6 ESV)
Isaiah had connected with God and been given a peek into what is to come. The closeness he has experienced with God undoubtably caused him to want others to experience Him intimately, too! Through Isaiah, the Lord told His people- and encourages us today- to seek Him with our whole hearts so He can unlock what we don’t even know we don’t know! To seek the Lord in the context of Isaiah 55:6 is to seek Him wholeheartedly, not hypocritically.
Seeking the Lord benefits our souls. It leads us to a rich and satisfying life by God’s terms, not the shallow and fleeting ways of the world. Though the temple curtain was torn at Jesus’ crucifixion, many still live their lives behind a curtain that no longer separates them from God. It’s a guard we put up and a barricade we can break through, but don’t always choose to. We have to come to Him freely, seeking Him wholeheartedly. Christ made a way, but we must walk through it.
Jeremiah 29:13-14 reads: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.’” (NIV)
Amos 5:4 pleads, “Seek me and live!” Again in verse 6 the prophet wrote, “Seek the LORD and live…” And once again in verse 14, “Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.” (NIV)
Jesus came so we would live our lives to the full (John 10:10)! God has a purpose for everyone on this earth, and He desires each of us to travel the path of His will for our lives in a fulfilling, joy-filled journey of faithfulness.
Why Should You Seek the Lord Today?
“Seek the Lord Yahweh when he makes himself approachable; call upon him when you sense he is near.” Isaiah 55:6 (TPT)
In order to live life to the fullest, we must seek the Lord with our whole hearts. Who wants to live half a life?! No one wants to be left in the dark as their friends laugh joyfully over a joke they share or an experience which brought them joy. Nor does God want us to miss out on experiencing Him, to the full, through Christ.
Jesus spoke of the same thirst for water Isaiah prophesied about. John recorded Jesus’ words about living water on two occasions. The first was in conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well: “Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” John 4:13-14 (NIV)
He spoke again of living water at the Festival of Tabernacles: “On the last and greater day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.’” John 7:37 (NIV)
Instead of drinking from the well of the world, which will never satisfy our spiritual thirst, Jesus provides a way for us to connect completely to the Father in Heaven by the Holy Spirit living in us. The Passion Translation of John 4:14 says, “For when you drink the water I give you, it becomes a gushing fountain of the Holy Spirit, flooding you with endless life!”
The gift of the Holy Spirit is available to all of us, yet so often we choose to pass. There are many in this world who do not know of the quenching available through Christ. They are wandering in thirst. We are part of God’s plan to make Him known throughout the earth! But some of us, though we drink from the well of Living Water, sit idle in our calling to “Go”. James wrote: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” James 1:19-21 (NIV)
The Passion Translation reads: “My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen, but slow to become angry, for human anger is never a legitimate tool to promote God’s righteous purpose. So this is why we abandon everything morally impure and all forms of wicked conduct. Instead, with a sensitive spirit we absorb God’s Word, which has been implanted within our nature, for the Word of Life has power to continually deliver us.”
We are set in our generations, purposefully, to listen to the LORD. As we seek Him wholeheartedly, the light of the Lord in us shines onto everyone around us.
Prayer to Seek the Lord
“So turn your attention and seek the Eternal One while it is still possible; call on Him while he is nearby.” Isaiah 55:6 (VOICE)
Just a few verses past the one we have studied today, You spoke through Isaiah, “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.” (Isaiah 55:8 NIV)
We come close to You, God, because we need You to show us, guide us, and fill us with the wisdom we need to walk inYour ways, which we are not fully capable of understanding as human beings on this earth. As we learn to yield to the Spirit of God in us, which connects us to You intimately, let us grow in discernment, able to hear, listen, obey, and learn from our close connectedness to You. In Christ, we are able to draw near to You, Father. You take up residence in us, and we are amazed. It’s too much for us to comprehend, let alone know what to do with on a daily basis! Help us to humbly submit to and seek You with all of our hearts, fully and genuinely, all the days of our lives.
In Jesus’ Name,
“Seek the LORD while he may be found; Call on Him [for salvation] while He is near.” Isaiah 55:6 (AMP)
The Lord is near to us, every day and all of the time. We only need to turn to Him in order to experience life to the full, as we look forward to eternity with Him. No matter how many times we mess up the same things, He opens His arms and welcomes us home. God will always forgive us and never love us less. When we truly understand how long, wide, and deep His love is for us, we come to Him with repentant hearts, listening… allowing Him to change us and become more like Christ each day through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit living in us. Seek the Lord while He may be found.
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Today’s Verse: Isaiah 55:6
Friday, October 5, 2018
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
Thoughts on Today’s Verse…
In truth, God is always close to those who genuinely seek after him. The real problem is that we drift away from him, lose interest, and leave his presence. So let’s seek him and receive his grace and his help while we recognize that he alone is the one who truly saves.
Father, I seek you with all my heart. While I seek to know about you through your Word, I long to know you and be known by you as a tender father knows his child and as a child feels complete trust toward his tender father. Father, not only be my God, but also be real to me in ways that transcend explanation. Help me to sense your nearness and to know your presence. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.