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Lowell Brueckner

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To Hunger and Thirst


50. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 55

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A passionate invitation

We meditated on the message of salvation in chapter 53. We studied the one, who would bear the message and bring forth children in chapter 54. Now we see the message’s recipients and the manner, in which the message is to be received. Whether or not your translation carries an exclamation point or points in verse one, these are exclamations, clearly seen by the repetition of the word come. Come… come… come!

Did the prophet know that his invitation would reach to the 21st Century? Who can say? In any case, the Holy Spirit, who inspired him, knew and willed that we should see it before our eyes: 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” (v.1).

It is impossible to miss the good intentions of the heavenly Father. Seven hundred years later, the Word was made flesh and renewed the invitation: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt.11:28). He added in John 6:37: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” Many years later still, five verses before the Apostle John closes the New Testament canon, speaking for the Spirit and the Church, he gives the readers one last cry: “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come’. And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price” (Rev.22:17).

Spiritual hunger and thirst
The only requirement given is that there be genuine thirst and hunger. There is an abundance of water. The word is plural, and we find the same abundance in John 7:38… rivers of living water! However, it is not only the bare quenching of thirst or preservation of life that is offered, as all-important as that may be. Wine and milk are offered and that without price; it is an offer of grace. In fact, you cannot pay for the blessings that God offers and an attempt to do so will bring a curse, rather than a blessing (see Acts 8:20).

“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” Spiritual hunger is essential in order to partake of heavenly things. There is no greater joy than to observe a desperate sinner drink deeply of the waters of salvation or to watch young believers, recently birthed, who cannot get enough of the milk of the word. However, at this point, warning must be given that extremely hungry people can be seen, foraging through garbage containers. It might drive others to pay top dollar for any and every kind of inferior food.

Hunger and thirst might cause some to listen to the Jehovah Witnesses that come to their door. Young people leave their homes to join a dangerous community sect, which call themselves family, and satisfy a certain lust for love and peace. A few have even committed suicide with fanatical groups, led by insane authoritarians. At the very least, millions, at tremendous cost, try to satisfy themselves by acquiring material possessions and security.

That brings on the rational question as to why people should take these kinds of spiritual detours. Where else can the answer lie, outside of the fallen nature of man? I can find no sane reason. Fallen human nature drives people away from truth and their Creature and will only turn to Him as a last resort. Meanwhile the blessed God-given hunger and thirst is satiated and slaked by demonic junk-food.

“Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in rich food” (v.2). God holds nothing back; He offers heaven’s best, instead of this world’s worst. Anyone, who has ever feasted at His table, will tell you that there is nothing earthly that can compare. Don’t let the opportunity slip away; listen diligently to the gospel: “Incline your ear, and come to me: hear, that your soul may live”.

The writer of Hebrews pleads with the potential Jewish believer: “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it… How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (Heb.2:1,3). Throughout his book, he presents arguments that prove the superiority of the gospel to the Jew’s religion. Listen diligently… incline your ear… hear… pay much closer attention… “It pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe” (1 Co.1:21).

A love covenant
“I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David” (v.3). The person who listens and believes enters into a new covenant; we call it the New Testament. It is for the Jew first, but the Gentile is grafted into this new and living way. It is a pathway of eternal, steadfast, and sure love.

You may remember that David wanted to build a house for the Lord, but God sent His prophet, Nathan, to counter with His own will and purpose: “The Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house”  (2 Sam.7:11). Man’s religion is all about what one can do for God. Christianity is about what God does for man. It teaches us to come without money and without price. It teaches us grace, to take Him at His word and trust Him. We come with empty hands… What can we offer Him?

The love covenant of David is the one that is offered in Isaiah’s book to the hungry and thirsty: “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him… but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul… Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me” (2 Sam.7:14-16). Isaiah speaks more of David in verse 4, showing what He made David to be, according to His will.

Israel will call forth a nation, which neither they know, nor does that nation know them (v.5). They had no relations with them and Peter had to be convinced by a heavenly vision to go into a Gentile house and preach to them (Ac.10:28). And so, he wrote to them: “For you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation… once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people…”  (1 P.2:9,10). Jehovah is Israel’s God, His person and His ways are holy, and He has glorified them. The gospel was first preached to them, then through them to the Gentile world. They will again be God’s light to bring forth a nation that will be saved through the Great Tribulation and populate the Millennium. Israel will lead the nations in Christ’s kingdom. 


The Lord’s invitation to the hungry and thirsty is without money and without price, but it is not without conditions. If there were no conditions attached, then salvation would be universal, but notice here God’s counsel to those He invites: “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” (v.6-7).

The first condition is to seek. We will notice that he must seek within the Lord’s time frame, not at his own leisure. We do wrong in telling the sinner that he can come to the Lord, when he pleases. There must be a clear recognition of His sovereign lordship. He chooses the time to make Himself available, and men, as poor, unworthy wretches, must call, while He is near. No one is saved, who holds fast to his own will and way.

The next verse speaks of repentance. He forsakes his own way, so he must abandon his style of living, his plans, his future, and turn to God’s way for his life. He not only turns from his own actions, but his own thoughts. His mind will now belong to the Lord. These are the negative steps away from himself and this is followed by trust.

To believe is to trust. He returns, depending on the Lord, fully surrendered to His way. Then he will experience the compassion and love of God for him. Already Isaiah has shown us the cross and the sinner turns to chapter 53 for forgiveness. God has taken care of his sins through the death of his Son. The conditions, then, are repentance and trust, or faith, in the person and work of the Lord God. There is no difference really between salvation in Old Testament times and New Testament times. It is by repenting and turning to God by grace through faith. 

God's thoughts and words

Now we receive a tremendous lesson concerning God’s thoughts, compared to ours: “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” (v.8-9). Upon repenting and turning in faith to Christ, our “world view” undergoes a tremendous transformation. Our way of seeing things must be totally turned right-side-up. Fallen man is cursed with perverse thinking and his mentality is 100% opposed to God’s. Because of man’s thinking, his world system is the opposite of the Kingdom of God.

Christ’s disciples had an immense conflict with His ways, beginning with the way he received children. The conflict continued through the occasion, when a woman poured her costly perfume over Him. There were many other instances of their ignorance of Christ’s purposes. Therefore the apostle Paul calls us to nonconformity to the world and a renewed mentality: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Ro.12:2). It is impossible to live Christianity by human ways, abilities and manners. Collectively, it is impossible for the church to function by using the world’s methods and tools.

We go on to learn of the sovereign, infallible power of His word.  “As the rain and snow come down from heaven… water the earth… giving seed and bread…So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (v.10,11). Learn heavenly vocabulary: For example, hope in God is not “hope-so” hope. His hope is a sure, steadfast guarantee, a sealed future which cannot fail to happen, exactly as He said.

To believe God is to believe His word and act accordingly. These two verses are telling us that it will reap a sure harvest. “For from Him”… through the word that He sends to us from heaven… “and through Him”… by the power of the Holy Spirit, working on this earth through human beings to accomplish His purposes… “and to Him”… returning to Him with a profit. This is the only way that a true and lasting work can be done.

All that God does is eternal. What is the eternal word from heaven in the situation, we have just contemplated? It is an unfailing promise that will work through us and return to heaven to bring glory and honor to its Author. As Isaiah puts it, it will make a name for Him: “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” (v.12-13).

This is the new creation and superior world of the New Covenant. This is what He intended, when He invited everyone who hungers and thirsts to come. This is the land of abundant waters, of wine, milk and rich food, which will be entirely a provision of God. “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps.118:23-24). This is the work, which begins in the individual human heart, and will find literal and physical fulfillment in the thousand-year reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. The rejected stone becomes the chief Cornerstone.  I will leave you to bask in it and in Him.


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