“Following the previous prophecy of the extension of Christ’s kingdom, there comes the invitation for ‘every one’ who is thirsty to come and satisfy his soul (Revelation 22:17)” (Isaiah, Wayne Jackson, p. 111).
55:1 “Every one who thirsts, come to the waters”: “People are bidden to ‘come’, which stresses their responsibility. They are urged to ‘buy’, which implies the exercise of initiative” (p. 111). The verse admits that man apart from God will be thirsty and hungry for something of substance; the problem is that often man tries to quench the thirst of his soul through sinful or earthly things. “And you who have no money come, buy and eat, come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost”: God’s blessings and salvation obviously cannot be purchased with money (1 Peter 1:18-19), and neither can salvation be earned or merited (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9). In addition, notice how salvation is likened to a banquet (Luke 14:15-24), becoming a faithful servant of God is anything but a life of miserable privation for the soul! All are welcome! This salvation is offered to “everyone” (John 3:16). “Water, milk, and wine (Joel 3:18) are symbolical of spiritual nourishment and salvation (John 4:13-14; 1 Peter 2:2)” (Isaiah, Robert Harkrider, p. 129).
55:2 “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?” “The Lord asked the people how they could be interested in other things besides Himself as He is the only One who can bring genuine satisfaction. Throughout all history people have tried to find satisfaction through many things other than God” (Bible Knowledge Comm., p. 1110). This same question remains to this day. How often we do neglect our relationship with God in order to try to find fulfillment outside Him? Are we at times making the same mistake that these Israelites were making? Look at the time, expense, and effort that people in the world put into their attempts to find happiness in earthly things (Matthew 6:32). Are we putting an equal amount of effort in our relationship with God? This verse reveals that if a Christian is unhappy or unfulfilled, then such is a red flag that they are ignoring their relationship with God. What a great question to ask people, “Well, are you happy?” “Is all this satisfying you?” What a waste to spend one’s life, interest, and energies on things that never satisfy!
55:2 “Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance”: “The prophet does not plead or argue, but throws into the quiet pool of their complacency a disturbing pebble, as he asks: ‘Does all this really satisfy you? Is this what you are for?’ He speaks with urgency, Listen, listen’” (The Expositors Bible Commentary, Gaebelein, p. 312). An abundance of blessings is waiting for the person who comes open hearted and whole heartily to God (Ephesians 1:3).
55:3 “Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live”:Salvation is as near as simply being willing to listen with a good heart (Acts 17:11). “And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David”: This everlasting covenant is the New Covenant promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34. God had promised to David that when David was buried that one of his descendants would arise and build God’s house and rule forever (2 Samuel 7:11-14; Psalm 89:3-4). This promise was fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:29-30) who presently rules over God’s kingdom and rules on David’s throne. “That this prediction is fulfilled in the church, and not in some alleged earthly millennial reign, is evidenced by Paul’s citation of this material in Acts 13:34, where the inspired apostle applies it to the gospel age” (Jackson, p. 112).
55:4 “Behold, I have made Him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples”: Note that the word “peoples” refers to the Gentiles or non-Jewish nations. Jesus, the offspring of David, will become that witness (Revelation 1:5; John 18:37). “The witness will also be a leader and commander. A leader is a ruler or captain, usually the one at the top; a commander is one who gives orders” (Hailey, p. 454).
55:5 “Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, and a nation which knows you not will run to you”: The nation that God will call into being will be the church, a nation of Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ (1 Peter 2:9). This nation will be composed of people who in the past had not known God (Ephesians 2:11ff), and were therefore not people whom God had known as His (Romans 10:19; 9:25-26). This is the empire under the Messiah, the church in the New Testament. From far parts of the earth people would come to the Messiah (Isaiah 2:2-4), and the Messiah and the church will attract them by the beauty that God has given them.
55:6 “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near”: “Verse 6 implies both a promise and a warning. There is urgency in this call, for time is not unlimited” (Gaebelein, p. 312). God has made it possible that people who genuinely seek Him can find Him (Acts 17:27), yet the time to seek God is limited (Luke 13:25). Death ends all chances to repent (Hebrews 9:27-28; Luke 16:19ff). Paul made it very clear that now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). In addition to death, other factors can also limit the opportunity, such as putting off our decision to seek God or obey Him. He can become calloused to the gospel message if we do not respond when we should (Hebrews 3:7).
55:7 “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts”: Seeking the Lord involves repenting of our sins, for one cannot truly seek the Lord and remain in rebellion to Him. “Response to Jehovah’s call involves a complete change of both lifestyle and heart. Completely renouncing evil activities and thoughts, one must return unto Jehovah, from whom he has been separated by sin and iniquity (59:2)” (Isaiah, Homer Hailey, p. 455). “Both in his life style and in the attitudes that lie behind it, the sinner is wrong; and so repentance must touch the inner man as well as the outward deeds (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28)” (Gaebelein, p. 312). It is not enough to forsake sinful deeds, one must also forsake sinful thoughts where these deeds are rooted. “He will abundantly pardon”: Such abundant forgiveness is only granted when a person truly repents. Therefore, God does not unconditionally forgive people, rather His grace and mercy is conditioned upon man’s repentance.
55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways”: This is a very important passage. Man often makes the mistake of assuming that whatever sounds true, false, reasonable or unreasonable to us is likewise the same for God. First of all, God is willing to offer such an abundant forgiveness to former sinners because God neither acts nor thinks like mortal men. We need to be careful that we do not reject a teaching in Scripture because it does not make sense or sound reasonable to us. We are not the standard of sound thinking, wisdom, true justice or truth. “Some men claim to seek God when in reality they seek only that God be satisfied with what they think. God’s ways can be understood by man (Ephesians 3:3-5) but what He has chosen to accomplish in His purposes is not what man would have chosen by human wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5; 3:18-21). Therefore let all who seek the Lord humbly submit to a ‘thus saith the Lord’ without change or rejection of His word”(Harkrider, p. 130). “Man makes the mistake of thinking that God is down on his level” (Hailey, p. 456).
55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways”: Not only is God far superior in foresight, wisdom, and planning, God is also morally superior. All of God’s thinking and actions are governed by His perfect holiness, justice, mercy, and righteousness. Man is created in God’s image, yet there are many things that can corrupt our thoughts as we live among sinners (Genesis 8:21). This is one reason why we must always place our trust in God and not in our own opinions (Proverbs 3:5ff). What this means is that if we have a difficult time understanding the thinking behind a command then we should not be shocked, rather we should humbly acknowledge that as imperfect men, we have a tremendous need to grow in knowledge (Hebrews 5:14). Never make the mistake of rejecting a passage because at the moment it does not yet make sense to you! Ponder it and work on your own knowledge, maturity and familiarity with all that God has said. Understanding will come in time.
55:10-11 “So will My word be”: God’s point here is that just as water does not return to the clouds in the form of vapor without first accomplishing its purpose, even so God’s word will accomplish its purpose. “As the rain and snow accomplish God’s purpose in the earth, so His word will fulfill His purpose in the hearts of those who draw near to hear, give heed, and change their ways and thoughts”(Hailey, p. 456). It is amazing what rain can accomplish, it can come upon a desert where it appears there is no vegetation yet afterwards all sorts of flowers will arise from the desert sands. In like manner, hearts that appear to be hard can be softened by the gospel message (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). God’s word brings with it spiritual life to those who accept it. “It will not return to Me empty”: Even when individuals reject God’s word, the message has still accomplished something, for the sinner has been given another opportunity to repent (2 Peter 3:9), and the gospel has gone to this person as well (Mark 16:15-16). The word of God will either open hearts or it will close them (Acts 2:37; Acts 7:51ff). It will get under a person’s skin, either leading to remorse and salvation or anger and condemnation. Others have often noted that no man is ever the same person after they hear the truth, for they either move in the direction of obedience or move into further rebellion. They are either more honest or less honest.
55:12 “All the trees of the field will clap their hands”: “…just as Judah came forth from Babylon with a sense of joy and peace, so those who leave the bondage of sin will experience similar emotions. The sinful life of thorns/briars will be replaced by the lush vegetation of the blessings in Christ” (Jackson, p. 112). The cypress and myrtle tree are both evergreens, thus symbols of life. In Isaiah, nature is often pictured as sharing in the joy of the redeemed (35:1-2; 41:17-20; 44:23; 49:13).