17 January 2015

Isaiah 55:1-11

“Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.” (v. 6)

Psalm: Psalm 81


Today's passage focuses on the concluding verses of the second part of Isaiah. They offer an invitation to "everyone" (verse 1) to come and be satisfied by God's abundant generosity. No one need be excluded, the offer is open to rich and poor; indeed no amount of money can buy what God is offering (verse 2). It's also an everlasting offer (verse 3), an eternal commitment being made by God to all people that his love for them will last for ever.

For a people with the recent experience of conquest and exile that must have been just what they wanted to hear. Their recent memory of "com[ing] to the waters" (v. 1) was to the rivers of Babylon, where "we sat down and ... we wept when we remembered Zion" (Psalm 137:1). It had been a long, difficult and painful period in their history, when all had felt lost. Now though something altogether more hopeful was not only on offer but felt like a reality.

However the people also needed to be reminded that this new beginning meant that they had to leave their old ways behind. They could not just return to Jerusalem and make the same mistakes as their predecessors did. The covenant being offered was a two-way commitment. A people who once again felt near to God should reflect that in the way they lived their lives, giving up their wicked ways and thoughts (verse 7). It means, as Paul suggested (Romans 6:1-11), leaving behind the dead life of sin and instead moving in to a new relationship with God that will bring with it a new start and a new life.

To Ponder

  • Be still, feel God's nearness to you and "call upon him while he is near".
  • Give thanks for the many ordinary yet wonderful things that you take for granted each day such as fresh water, food and shelter, and pray for those who cannot take these things for granted.

Bible notes author

Dr Richard Vautrey

Richard Vautrey is a local preacher and church steward in Leeds, and a former vice-president of the Methodist Conference. He works as a GP, is an elected member of both the BMA council and Royal College of GPs council as well as being the deputy chair of the BMA's GP committee.