"Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 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 delight yourself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David." (Isaiah 55:1–3, NASB)
I recently went through a period of fasting. On the first morning of my fast, I opened my Bible to "the next thing": Isaiah 55. I chuckled as the irony of reading this passage on this day sunk in. "If you are hungry or thirsty, come! Drink! Eat!" At first it felt a bit like a cruel and ill-timed joke.
But as I paused to let the real significance of these verses sink into my soul, I realized the absolute appropriateness of God’s grace-filled invitation to me. As I turned away from physical food, He was inviting me to a rich spiritual feast. "Listen carefully to me, eat what is good, delight yourself in abundance" became the theme for my fast. Making time to listen carefully, cultivating periods of silence and meditation; eating what is good, making God’s Word the feast rather than focusing on the loss of French fries or pastries; delighting myself in abundance, setting my mind on the overflowing of God’s spiritual and temporal blessings in my life—these things transformed a time of deprivation into a time of rejoicing.
Of the five imperative verbs in this passage, I was particularly struck by the verb "listen" which at first seemed like the classic "one of these things is not like the others." "Come," "eat," "buy," and "delight" are all easily related to an invitation to a meal. But when I’m invited out for dinner, "listen" isn’t a verb that comes readily to mind. But perhaps it should.
In France, one quickly learns the importance of mealtime. An invitation to dine with friends is not just about the food (although it’s generally quite good!). It’s an invitation to linger together, to go deeper into relationship, and yes, to listen! To really listen to one another, get to know one another. This is what God invites us into—the nourishment He offers is closely tied to this intimate kind of relationship with Him, feeding on His words, lingering with Him, really listening. And it is in this context that He promises satisfaction and abundance! It is in this context that we experience His everlasting covenant and faithful mercies.
This text goes so far as to say that listening equals living. In my mind, this means that not listening equals not living. If I omit the discipline of listening, lingering with God, waiting quietly before Him, I am not experiencing the life He intends me to have. It would be just like refusing to eat the physical food that nourishes my body and keeps me alive. Every day, every hour I have a choice before me: will I let living my busy life keep me from listening to God, from lingering in His word (comparable to "spending my wages on things that don’t satisfy")? Or will I choose listening so that I can better live?
May God help us choose wisely!
Warmly in Christ, Bev Hawkins
For Reflection: "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 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 delight yourself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David." (Isaiah 55:1–3, NASB)
Verses 1–2 refer to both those who have no money and those who spend their resources unwisely. To which category do you belong? On what kinds of things do you "spend your wages," hoping to find satisfaction?
Consider the five imperative verbs in this passage: come, buy, eat, listen, delight. Which of these verbs most speaks to you? Which ones are you good at? With which ones do you struggle?
In the first verse, water (life), wine (joy), and milk (growth) represent a well-balanced spirituality. Are these things in balance in your life? If not, what is lacking?