Through the prophet Isaiah, the LORD God is reaching out to people. He calls out to people who are thirsty. We are to help them come to the water.
VERSE 1. “Hey! Come, everyone who thirsts, to the waters! Come, he who has no money, buy, and eat! Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
NAB translation. All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!
All you who are thirsty, come to the water. Some people are thirsty. They have a spiritual thirst. They’ve been searching for ways to satiate that thirst. So far, they’ve found nothing really satisfies. But the LORD God is exactly what they need.
Yet God doesn’t force himself on people. He gives them free will. People are free to do anything they want about God. They are free to accept his grace, to ignore it, or even to decline it.
Some people in Christian ministry imagine they need to force everyone to hear their message. They feel compelled to compel people, whether those people want what the message or not. They shove things down people’s throats.
But in this verse we see that God offers himself gently. He gently offers himself to people who actually want him.
And so can we. There are many Christian ministries. An important key for them all is to discern if people actually want what you have to offer. The real “target” of Christian ministry is the people who actually want it.
And many do want it. They need us to reach out to them with the message: Pope Paul VI wrote,
multitudes have the right to know the riches of the mystery of Christ – riches in which we believe that the whole of humanity can find, in unsuspected fullness, everything that it is gropingly searching for concerning God, man and his destiny, life and death, and truth (see Note 1)
Jeremiah 2:13. “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the spring of living waters, and cut out cisterns for themselves: broken cisterns that can’t hold water.
Come, without paying and without cost. Eternal salvation is not “bought.” It’s not “earned.” It’s so valuable that we can never have enough money to pay for it.
Psalm 49:8. The ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough. (NIV 1984 translation)
Yet lots of people try to “buy” that eternal salvation with their own money, the “money” of their own good deeds, their own religious practices, their own sense of moral living.
But the eternal salvation that God offers us is so costly that it’s free. It’s free for the taking. We “buy” it by accepting it.
Have you “bought” that eternal salvation? Have you accepted the free gift the LORD God is offering you?
VERSE 2. Why do you spend money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which doesn’t satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in richness.
Listen diligently to me. Does the person listen to you? Is he or she receptive to you as a person? Is he or she receptive to you as a spiritual person worth listening to you?
let your soul delight itself in richness. What we have to offer will be a delight for our hearers. It will not be bad news for them.
But it will not be a delight for everyone. In that sense, it’s not for everyone. Some people, many in fact, will reject it. So it behooves us to discern who it is that we offer our ministry to.
VERSE 3. Turn your ear, and come to me. Hear, and your soul will live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.
your soul will live. The normative experience is that we grow.
2 Peter 1:2. May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. (NLT translation)
To not grow is to be unhealthy.
The Christian life has a goal. We are destined to make tangible progress. We’re to receive more and more. We’re not designed to sit still. It’s not our destiny to be static. “Same-old, same-old” should make us nauseous.
2 Peter 1:3. By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. (NLT translation)
What counts is God’s divine power, and not our own feeble human power. It’s never about ourselves or what we have accomplished. It’s always about God and what he has done for us.
It’s by God’s divine power that things happen in our spiritual lives. The Christian life is all about what God does for us, and not about what we do for God.
VERSE 4. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander to the peoples.
VERSE 5. Behold, you shall call a nation that you don’t know; and a nation that didn’t know you shall run to you, because of the LORD your God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he has glorified you.”
NIV 1984 translation. Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.”
Summon nations you know not. The LORD God calls us to actually go and evangelize foreign nations.
Do you have an interest in evangelizing non-Christians in a foreign nation? If so, what might you do about it? How might you put it into practice? If not, how might you grow your interest?
Nations that do not know you will hasten to you. The nations we are to target are ones we don’t know. They’re nations that don’t know us. We are to go to nations that have not yet been reached by the gospel of Jesus Christ, nations in dire need of pioneer evangelization.
Do you have a love for foreign people and lands? If so, what might you do about it? How might you put it into practice? If not, how might you grow your interest?
He has endowed you with splendor. These foreign lands will actually listen to what we have to offer. Our evangelizing them will be effective, because God “endows” us with a splendor that these foreign nations will find appealing.
Matthew 4:4. But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’
People have special windows of opportunity. It is when God is especially reaching out to them, and they are especially “susceptible.” They need to act while they can.
For them, the time has come. The kingdom of God is at hand. They need to repent and believe. Right Now.
The evangelizer needs to be prepared to gently encourage a receptive person toward faith in Jesus Christ.
VERSE 7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Let him return to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, to our God, for he will freely pardon.
Let the wicked forsake his way. There is a process whereby people forsake their wickedness and evil thoughts and sins. It’s the biblical process of Discipleship.
my thoughts are not your thoughts. Many people unwittingly that the LORD God thinks and acts the same way they do. They project their own worldview onto God.
But we know that the thoughts of the holiest and most intelligent person arenʼt even remotely like those of God. God is infinitely beyond us.
Isaiah 64:4. For from of old men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides you, who works for him who waits for him.
Isaiah 55:8. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways,” says the LORD.
1 Corinthians 2:9. That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (NLT translation)
VERSE 9. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
so are my ways higher than your ways. God’s perspective is infinitely beyond ours. We need to bathe our intellect each day in the waters of Sacred Scripture. We need to be reminded.
my thoughts than your thoughts. Much of the ministry of discipleship consists in reminding people of what they already know. They need to be reminded. We call this the Ministry or Reminding.
VERSE 10. For as the rain comes down and the snow from the sky, and doesn’t return there, but waters the earth, and makes it grow and bud, and gives seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
VERSE 11. so is my word that goes out of my mouth: it will not return to me void, but it will accomplish that which I please, and it will prosper in the thing I sent it to do.
my word that goes out of my mouth. The Word of God is Jesus Christ. And the Bible itself is referred to as the Word of God.
will accomplish that which I please. We see three ways this is fulfilled:
1. The Lord Jesus Christ achieved the goals for which God the Father sent him to earth.
2. The Bible achieves the goal for which God the Father gave it to us.
3. Our ministering to other poeple will achieve the goal for which God the Father has in equipping us.
Sometimes our words seem ineffective. However, God will use our ministry efforts for his greater glory. Our efforts are never in vain.
1 Samuel 3:19. Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.
VERSE 12. For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace. The mountains and the hills will break out before you into singing; and all the trees of the fields will clap their hands.
go out with joy. Authentic spiritual ministry is a ministry of joy. It is not a ministry of rebuking or condeming or blasting. It does not judge or condemn its recipients.
Baruch 5:9. For God shall lead Israel with joy in the light of his glory with the mercy and righteousness that comes from him.
However, many of our Christian leaders condemn other people. Here is a paragraph by Richard Rohr on that point:
Jesus liberated us from religion. Jesus taught simple religious practices over major theorizing. There is no indication He wanted any of His followers to be what I call “thought police”—thought police for others. That has been Rome’s preoccupation for the greater part of 1,000 years. Show me the passage where Jesus gave Rome the authority to police the whole world! This is the way that Western civilization went; we mirrored the secular culture in many ways. The only thoughts Jesus told us to police were our own: our own negative thoughts, our own violent thoughts, our own hateful thoughts—not other people’s thoughts. (see Note 2)
led out with peace. Authentic ministry leads to real life, both for the person who ministers and for those being ministered to. It results in joy, peace, song, clapping, and growth. These are great indicators of authentic ministry.
break out before you into singing. How can you minister joy into people?
VERSE 13. Instead of the thorn the cypress tree will come up; and instead of the brier the myrtle tree will come up. It will make a name for the LORD, for an everlasting sign that will not be cut off.”
an everlasting sign that will not be cut off. Authentic ministry produces life-long results. Those results will not be destroyed.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.