This month we are walking through Isaiah 55. The prophet is speaking to people that are in exile, broken: “Time to go home.” He is speaking to the thirsty… those yearning for their deepest needs to be quenched… It has been 70 years since the people of Israel have been taken into captivity by the Babylonians. Most of the people have been born captives, knowing nothing else. Only a small percentage of the very oldest among them have childhood memories… Isaiah is sent by God to tell the people it is time to go home ….
The best example I could think of to show the sweetness of returning home is the a soldiers surprise for his/her family. Hundreds to choose from on Youtube, here is a two minute video of [Youtube Video of One soldiers incredible homecoming]….
When God speaks to the people though Isaiah, “Come, all you who are thirsty” he is speaking to a people that have hit the bottom and have nowhere else to go. 70 years in exile. Some have known nothing else. All their efforts to rescue themselves have fallen short. Arrogance/posturing/false strength has long ago vanished. I have seen people literally on their death bed that are at last broken now ready to receive the Lord Jesus Christ...it’s awesome. Only those that hit the bottom are ready… The invitation to return home to God is to the thirsty.
Jesus gave a similar invitation in John 7:37. The scripture says, “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.”
Money doesn’t do any good. God’s invitation is not for the rich, the powerful. The invitation is for those who have nothing but simply bring trust and faith and receive what God has to give. Water, wine and milk, it’s all free.
- Water is life giving, refreshing, cleansing, growing. Without water there is no life.
- Wine is to celebrate. Wine represents the joy of being a Christian and celebrating the new life offered in Christ.
- Milk is nourishing and has substance, representing the need to grow in Him, learn. Water, wine and milk are offered by the Lord Jesus Christ for those that return home to Him.
Isaiah 55:2 asks the question of ages: “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?”
Often all we can do is shake our head at the crazy world we live…We ask the same question of others and ourselves as Isaiah all the time, only we use different words: Why do we waste our time with __________? We lament the business, the drama… it’s all our choice you know, we are not victims! Why did I spend my money on worthless stuff that is gone… Anyone buy anything in the past month they regret? Anyone engage in activity this week that was stupid? Are you planning to waste your money and time with things that bring no lasting peace this coming week? Don’t you ever get tired of kicking yourself? You know the phrase, it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission ~~ You sneak around the people you love knowing you’d never get their blessing so you do it anyway then when caught ask for forgiveness. I have this theory that the person we most abuse with that principle is ourselves. We do that which we know gets us nowhere then wonder why life is so hollow… I thought about a longer title for this message: “It’s time to quick kicking yourself and make good decisions that will set you on a path of wholeness.”
The great invitation of God is to return home to Him, like the soldier returning home to a waiting family…Why do you spend your energy, your time, on dead end decisions. The invitation to go to God is free, free to us…we know, however, in the fullness of time, it is not free to God. Hundreds of years after the time of Isaiah, God sends us his son Jesus Christ, born of the virgin Mary. We call it Christmas…. Jesus was born to die/// die on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. The invitation is free, but it costs God everything. I imagine tears as God’s children return home to him, like the tears of the family when the solider returns home.
“Come” is the invitation of God. The thirsty/broken are invited. LISTENING is the way to accept the invitation. I’m thinking God has in mind a leisurely sort of listening which takes time to digest what is being said, Listening that considers what is being heard, listening that is thoughtful and attentive. Not enough listening to others in this world, not enough listening to God.
Even today, I often run into skeptics and even honest seekers who want to know more about God; but they want a quick answer to a difficult scripture. If I can’t give them a quick satisfactory response they lose interest. Isaiah 55:2 describes the listening as eating what is good, listening that takes thoughtfulness. Delighting in what you are eating only takes place when you enjoy what you are doing. Your world will be changed by Jesus Christ when you learn to listen, to truly listen, to take the time you need to listen, to not be in such a hurry as you listen, consider, choose the best way forward. A leisurely kind of listening. I like the story of Charles Swindoll.
Charles Swindoll once found himself with too many commitments in too few days. He got nervous and tense about it. "I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day. Before long, things around our home started reflecting the patter of my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable.
"I distinctly remember after supper one evening, the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me something important that had happened to her at school that day. She began hurriedly, 'Daddy, I wanna tell you somethin' and I'll tell you really fast.' "Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, 'Honey, you can tell me -- and you don't have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly." "I'll never forget her answer: 'Then listen slowly.'"
Sometimes it seems to impossible for your world to change. You want more of God. You are tired of being thirsty. Tired of being tired. But it seems so far away/impossible. You get tired of kicking yourself one more time.
THEN LISTEN SLOWLY. “Listen, listen to me and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.”
God does not take you to dine at a fast food restaurant to gulp your food down between errands. One of the missionaries we support is Steve C. (He and Mayen were here in May). They recently moved to Abu Dabi where Steve is miraculously attempting to get the ear of the Crown Prince in order to produce a movie about Christian Missionaries in the Muslim nation ~ it’s a long but amazing story. In a recent e-mail he described the luncheon with foreign dignitaries, officials of Abu Dabi, and the Crown Prince:
“The room was nearly full when we entered and I followed Andrew to the front of the room where he greeted the Sheikh (very warmly) and then introduced me and we shook hands. I met the Saudi Arabian ambassador, the Canadian ambassador, an Indian man who is the richest Indian in the UAE (US $8Billion). Everyone in the room seemed to be someone of great influence.
Lunch was…. like a scene from an exotic tale. The room had two long tables on either side and they ended in a long table at the front of the room where the Sheikh sat with two men on either side. We were seated on the right side table about 3 people away from the head table. The center of the tables were filled with massive ornate dishes (huge bowls) which were piled to overflowing with various dishes…. The man beside me took my plate and started shoveling piles of rice on it. Then he reached into the meat with his hand and tore off huge chunks of lamb and piled my plate high with steaming pieces of tender lamb. I tried for a while to use my fork and knife but eventually gave up and followed his lead and just used my hands. Much more sensible if you ask me. He leaned over and said, “only use your right hand, never your left.” … Later he told me that the massive dish on the head table was camel meat and would I like to try it? Of course! A servant was called over and my plate was whisked away and returned with two giant pieces of camel meat. I picked up one piece and had a bite. My helpful guide leaned over and quietly said, “Just tear off small pieces. Don’t pick up the big piece. Be more subtle.” I again expressed my appreciation.
Steve had to be instructed how to eat, which hand to use…. Amazing food, never had anything like it… That is more like the banquet God is offering…the food may be new to you, but it is like nothing you’ve ever had before…
An out of control non-stop world needs to slow down and listen, Listen Slowly to the things of God, what the invitation is all about, deliberate listening…Listening like you are eating at a most amazing banquet.
The great invitation from God is to Come. The invitation is for all who are thirsty, those that have finally hit the bottom. It costs you nothing. Don’t waste your time pursuing dead end solutions to find meaning, but accept the invitation of God to drink water, wine and milk, refreshing, celebrating, nourishing. Listen slowly, delighting in Him. May this season be a time for the broken to truly hear the invitation of Jesus Chist and come to Him. Amen.