22 June 2015

Isaiah 55:1-11

“See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.” (v. 5)

Psalm: Psalm 29


The book of Isaiah dates from the 8th century BC, and is named after a great prophet. In three parts, it relates first (in chapters 1-39) to a time when the kingdom of Judah was under grave danger from Assyria, a neighbouring state. The nation's parlous state was also seen as linked to their lack of trust in God.

The second part of the book of Isaiah is from the time when many of the people of Judah were separated from their homeland, in exile in Babylon. Despite their dire situation, the people were promised that they would return to Jerusalem and begin a new life there. Today's passage is from the final chapter of the second part of Isaiah.

Isaiah addresses everyone who wishes to have new life - to drink and eat, and money is no bar to sharing to the full (verse 1)! The people are encouraged to put behind them the life away in Babylon and to accept the promise laid before them. Verses 6-11 are a poem which summarises the prophet's message. In it, the people are called to prepare themselves by turning towards God, by repenting of their sins. If there are those who doubt the good news, then they are reassured by the statement that God's ways are not human ways. Then a harvest illustration leads into the prophet's proclamation that God's word will accomplish God's purpose.

You may care to look at the poem which is recorded at the beginning on this second part of the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 40:1-8). These two poems hold the message of Isaiah to God's people far from home, and waiting for his saving power to be evident.

To Ponder

  • Have you had times when you felt a long way from God? How does Isaiah's message make you feel?
  • How easy is to think of unknown nations running to God? Are there nations you would find it difficult to welcome? Why? And how might you overcome this difficulty?

Bible notes author

The Revd Stephen Burgess

Revd Stephen Burgess is chair of the York & Hull District of the Methodist Church. He initially trained as a chemist and after some years in industry and teaching served in two school chaplaincy appointments before becoming superintendent of the Cambridge Circuit and then moving to Yorkshire.