Monday 12th February – Isaiah 55:1-7 ‘The great invitation’

Isaiah 55:1-7

It’s been quite a journey – this amazing prophetic vision of Isaiah, which started in chapter 40 with the ‘voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord!”’ comes to a fitting conclusion today and tomorrow.  Day after day we’ve marvelled at promise after promise; and we’ve heard another voice, the Divine Shepherd, calling his people to new hope and a new future.  Today draws it all together with a simple invitation: come.  Come to the Lord.  Come, all who are thirsty – whether it’s the water of life, the wine of salvation or the milk of nurture and growth (v1) – come.  Receive the divine gift, the divine promise, without money and without cost.

It is an invitation not just to God’s people, but also to the world.  Just as we’ve seen at various other points in the text, this passage reminds us that it will be given, via God’s people, to ‘nations you know not’ (v4).  But it is one that requires a response; the prophet urges God’s people to act, and not to put it off till a later date: (v6) ‘Seek the Lord while hie may be found; call on him while he is near.’ 

It’s worth clarifying what the prophet means by this – and to do that, I’m going to ask you to picture a large hill or mountain.  You are on a walk, trying to reach the summit, and you come to a fork in the path – ahead is the route direct to the summit: it may be a little steep, but it takes you straight there.  Or you can turn to the left, to a path which seems to take you round the edge of the hill.  It may ultimately get you to the summit via a more circuitous route, though you can’t see at this point; but the point is, if you take that path, the summit doesn’t move, you do.

This is why the prophet urges a response: it’s not that God will move away… but we might.  So, he urges, say your ‘yes’ today.  Now is the time.  Now is always the time.  Call on him while he is near.

Fast forward 600 years, to Jerusalem, c.AD30.  A controversial rabbi visits Jerusalem for one of the great annual Jewish festivals.  St John takes up the story: ‘On the last and greatest 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)

This is the prophet’s vision made a reality; this is Isaiah 55:1 enacted by the One who is the fulfilment of this whole amazing section of scripture.  All who are thirsty… let them come.  To whom?  To the Lord – the Lord Jesus, who is the one who gives us the water of life, the wine of salvation, the milk of nurture and growth.  It’s the same invitation for us today – as we begin our week, may we respond to that loving call, day by day.  Come.  Come to Jesus – that we may live (v3), that we might receive his mercy (v7), and that he might show his splendour in us (v5).  And may those streams of living water flow from us into a thirsty world, too.  Amen.