Tuesday 13th February – Isaiah 55:8-13 ‘The fruitful word’

Isaiah 55:8-13

When he was a young preacher the great Christian leader and writer Dallas Willard would get very worried about delivering a sermon – would people like it?  Would it bear fruit?  While preparing one day, he received a word of encouragement from the Lord which dramatically changed his perspective and his future ministry: ‘Don’t worry – it’s what I do between your lips and their ears that matters.’

Scripture is God’s word – yes, it may have been given to humans, spoken out by humans and written down by humans, but, as St Peter puts it very well, people ‘spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.’ (2 Peter 1:21)  This means two very important things, both of which the prophet reminds us of in this wonderful conclusion to his prophecy:

First, it means that these words have great wisdom: (v9) ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.’  In other words, God says, if you’re still struggling to believe everything I’ve shared through Isaiah, if some of it sounds crazy or just too good to be true, you can have confidence, because these are not just Isaiah’s words, they are my words: this is the very wisdom of God.  My way is higher, the Lord says, it’s not bound by human constraints.  We can trust it!

Second, it means that these words have great power.  Lovely as it is to hear a good preacher hold forth, or a good writer weave beautiful literary tapestries, God’s word doesn’t need either to be effective, because it has power within itself: (v11) ‘my word… does not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.’

It is also inherently fruitful: (v10) ‘it yields seed for the sower, and bread for the eater.’  Many years later, the greatest teacher of them all told a story about a farmer scattering this same seed.  As long as it fell on good soil, it multiplied 30, 60 or even 100 times.  One wonders where this great teacher got the idea from: could it be…?!

As we close this series, what better way than to be reminded that these are not just words, they are the wisdom and power of God.  Everything Isaiah saw came to pass – history has shown that – but these words didn’t end their purpose with their fulfilment in Christ. They remain living and active today.  They can change our lives, too.  Their hope is our hope.  As we reflect on all we’ve learned over these last few weeks, may the Lord grant us grace to overflow with joy and peace (v12) – just as the Lord promised.  Amen!