Salvation Offered Freely to All
Meditations on Isaiah 55
So often in scripture, the LORD reminds the Israelites to be kind to the strangers and foreigners amongst them, for those same Israelites were once sojourners in the land of Egypt. In his sovereignty, God disperses people for their ultimate good, for their salvation. In Isaiah 55, the LORD addresses his displaced people with an invitation of radical hospitality, and these same words have echoed through the ages, extending this same warm welcome to those far from home.
Israel was a people scattered, exiled, displaced—weeping in refugee camps in Babylon. Amidst the hunger, poverty, shame, and helplessness, a prophet shouts the generous invitation of their God that rings out loud and clear:
“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.”
Needs! I will meet your deepest, most urgent needs! And it will not be because you can repay me. It is not because you merit help. Nourishment, sustenance, refreshment…I am the source of all these and I offer them freely. I have trumped the natural pattern and expectation of “quid pro quo” and “if…then” with my astonishing grace.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the LORD your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
for He has glorified you.
Let Me reason with you—you can see that your economy is not working. You are chasing after worthless idols and trying to fill up broken cisterns. You will never be satisfied with these substance-less shadows—the futility of them will only frustrate you. My Word, Myself, My Promise is what will fill you with life, strength, and purpose. Come, let Me cut a covenant with you. Let Me love you as I loved my anointed, My beloved King David. Amplify My invitation, and proclaim My kindness to your neighbors. They will see My splendor reflected in your face, and be inexplicably drawn to you.
“Seek the LORD while He may be found;
call upon Him while He is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the LORD, that He may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.
Since I have entreated you to live, I will now show you how: repent, run to me! Cling on to the hem of my garment, for I have extended a pardon to you. I am prepared to forgive your debt. This will not remain on the bargaining table forever, though. Today is the day of salvation! Turn and live. I make this offer in my wisdom, though men cannot understand. They cannot understand the science of mercy or the wisdom of amnesty.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but sit shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
My word is utterly dependable. Just as I have opened to you my treasure-house to pour out rain on the land and fulfill my promise. Just as rain brings forth an abundant harvest, so my word will bring back a harvest of a remnant, a people who call on My name.
“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the LORD,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
All of creation is groaning, waiting for the fulfilment of My promises and the revealing of My sons. On that day, there shall be permanent joy and complete transformation! If your rejection meant salvation for the world, how much more does your inclusion mean? This is an everlasting reality; no new events will render it void.