Tuesday, January 26, 2021

2021.01.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 55

Read Isaiah 55

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Isaiah 55:1 address? What does it tell them to do? Without what? What questions do Isaiah 55:2 ask? What does it say to do instead? With what commands does Isaiah 55:3 further define “coming” and “buying”? What does God say that He will make/cut with them? How does He describe this covenant? As what three things does Isaiah 55:4 say that this “David” is given to the people? Whom else will this David/Anointed/Messiah/Christ call (Isaiah 55:5a-b)? Why/how/when (verse 5c-e, cf. John 12:27–32)? What two things does Isaiah 55:6 say to do? When? For what does this imply a limited time? How does Isaiah 55:7 further define this seeking and calling? What two things are to be forsaken? What two things will Yahweh do? Whose God does it call Him? How does Isaiah 55:8 relate to verse 7a–b? What does Isaiah 55:9 add as a primary difference (in addition to not being wicked, cf. verse 7a–b)? What does rain do—and not do—until when (Isaiah 55:10)? What similarly will do—and not do—what (Isaiah 55:11)? What will those redeemed from wickedness do (Isaiah 55:12a-b)? What else will do what with them (verse 12c-e)? What will replace what (Isaiah 55:13a-b)? What is being undone? What will be displayed (verse 13c–d) for how long? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Isaiah 55, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Wretched.

The chapter begins with images of thirst (Isaiah 55:1 a–b,e)  and poverty (verse 1c) and hunger (verse 1d, v2) and purchase (verse 1 d, f, Isaiah 55:2 a–b) and slaking thirst (verse 1e, verse 2b) and eating (verse 2c). These are images that look forward to Jesus’s own preaching in His earthly ministry. And, as with Jesus, these are illustrations for spiritual neediness and satisfaction.

The command to listen (Isaiah 55:2c) is tied to the promise about the Word in Isaiah 55:10-11. This instruction is not about physical neediness and provision (though the Lord does that too). Rather, it is about how the once-condemned soul can come to delight (verse 2d) and live (Isaiah 55:3b). The condemnation has been borne by another (chapter 53), the blessedness has been announced (chapter 54), and now with a dozen imperatives in the first seven verses, the prophet urges the most unlikely candidates possible to come into that blessedness.

The mechanism by which that blessedness comes is listening (Isaiah 55:2c), coming to the Lord by the inclining of the ear (verse 2c), and hearing (Isaiah 55:3b). But how can we, who are dead, do even this? We are acquainted with the frustration of sitting before our Bibles or under preaching, unable even to focus our thoughts upon the Word, let alone warm our hearts by it, or stir up our wills to keep it. Even in the hearing of the Word, it is the Word itself that does the work. God Himself has sent it, like rain, with the life and power within it to restore that which is parched (Isaiah 55:10). And He has commanded that His own life-giving provision will not fail (Isaiah 55:11).

Our assurance of this is established not only by God’s power to be able to give our souls life, and His declared plan that this is how the life comes, but especially in His everlasting covenant promise by which He has pledged Himself to us (Isaiah 55:3c). This covenant has been made in the greatest possible grace (“sure mercies”—immovable faithful ḳessed) and Guarantor (“David”—Christ, great David’s infinitely greater Son, the forever-King of 2 Samuel 7).

This is great news not only for Israelites (Isaiah 55:4), but for sinners from all the nations (Isaiah 55:5a-b), who have been promised to Christ (verse 5c–e). For, we all have the spiritual poverty (wickedness and unrighteousness!, Isaiah 55:7a-b) that is a prerequisite for this blessedness. If we turn to Him (verse 7c, e), we receive not only mercy (verse 7d) and forgiveness (verse 7f), but even those infinitely (Isaiah 55:9a) godly and righteous thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8, verse 9b–c) that we utterly lack (Isaiah 55:7a-b, Isaiah 55:8-9). 

You cannot turn over a new leaf to come to God; rather, if you turn to Him, He provides the new leaf—a new and eternal life! This is why our rejoicing in this utter blessedness (Isaiah 55:12a-b) and complete reversal of all curse (verse 12c–Isaiah 55:13b) is a credit not to us but to the everlasting honor and praise of Yahweh (verse 13c–d)!

What life do you have from yourself? By what mechanism, especially, has Christ given you to have vitality from Him? What use are you making of it? How do you respond when He gives it to you?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH440 “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Wretched”

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