This year for Easter I decided to go “old school” and take a prophetic look at the story out of the Book of Isaiah. As you can see from previous posts, I covered our slavery to sin (Isaiah 52), the deliverance by our emancipator (Isaiah 53), and the impact of our liberation (Isaiah 54). On Easter morning I dealt with God’s gracious invitation that he extends to us.
“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk—it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food” (Isaiah 55:1-2, NLT)
Isaiah expressed the availability of God’s gracious invitation to two kinds of people: the destitute and the dissatisfied. The essence of poverty is the inability to sustain one’s self. We’re not talking about unemployment or under employment. We’re talking bankruptcy, or in this case, spiritual bankruptcy. Only those who recognize their own spiritual bankruptcy are eligible to receive the invitation to the banquet.
The dissatisfied are those who have tried to find meaning and fulfillment in life only to be left wanting more. Let me illustrate it this way. Every now and then my wife and I like to go out to eat. Sometimes we’ll splurge and enjoy a really nice meal at an expensive restaurant. When we do I’ll order the biggest, bacon wrapped filet mignon on the menu. I’ll get some unhealthy potato side dish and will order a salad with some high fat dressing. When I finally push away from the table, I’ll tell my wife that it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had, and how full and satisfied I am. Here’s the thing about the expensive meal. Within hours I’m hungry and ready to eat again.
That’s how life in the temporal realm works. We look for satisfaction in food, material possessions, homes, trips, clothes, relationships, you name it. And those things, while inherently fine, don’t provide lasting satisfaction. Anywhere and anything that we seek satisfaction will do so for a moment, but we’re always left wanting more. The invitation of Isaiah 55 promises a limitless, bottomless, never ending once and for all satisfaction.
If the invitation is to the destitute and the dissatisfied, then what is offered?
“Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life” (Isaiah 55:3, NLT).
Most translations interpret verse 3 in the verb form, as in, “you will live.” But I like what the New Living Translation does by translating it in the noun form. The verb makes it appear as though their physical lives are what is at stake. The noun, however, makes it more apparently inclusive of the spiritual life. We’re all appropriately concerned with sustaining physical life. Maslow’s hierarchy of learning suggests that if we sense danger to our physical lives then our learning is hindered. But the ultimate goal of God is not physical life, its spiritual life that finds its resource and identity in God.
How then do we respond to God’s gracious invitation? His counsel, offered some 2,700 years ago still works today.
“Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously” (Isaiah 55:6-7, NLT).