Isaiah 55:1-13 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What invitation does the Lord extend in Isaiah 55:1 (printed below?)

Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk, without money and without cost! (Isaiah 55:1)

The Lord invites those who are thirsty to come to Him and quench their thirst. He assures them that He has an abundant supply of water (He speaks of “waters”) as well as wine and milk. Furthermore, this is a gracious invitation extended by the Lord: He invites us to come without money and without cost, all that is required is that we come to Him.

2. What is the spiritual significance of this invitation (see Isaiah 55:1 printed above under question #1) as it pertains to the Lord’s people who were presently estranged from Him because of their sins?

Using the imagery of a man needing to quench his thirst—an image that would have special relevance to those living in the arid land of the Middle East—the Lord is inviting His people to return to Him, for only He can satisfy their spiritual thirst, only He can provide the spiritual “water” to save their souls. He is also reminding them that He is a gracious and merciful God: they need not, indeed, they cannot, earn the right to return to the Lord, they need only to return just as they are and He will provide all that they need.

3. Is this invitation only limited to the Lord’s Old Testament people? Note again verse one and also verses 4-5 (printed below).

See, I have made him to be a witness to the Gentile peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. (5) You will call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you will run to you; because of Jehovah your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has honored you. (Isaiah 55:4-5)

According to verse one, this invitation is extended to “everyone” regardless of who they may be. Referring to the promised Messiah, Jesus, the Lord declares that He has made Him to be a witness to “the Gentile peoples” and “a leader and commander for the peoples” (verse 4). This prophecy finds it fulfillment in the Great Commission by which the Lord Jesus instructs His apostles to bring the gospel to all the world and make disciples from all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). As the Lord foretells in verse 5, the Gentile nations will respond: “a nation that did not know you will run to you.” That is to say, people who were strangers to the Lord’s Old Testament covenants and steeped in paganism will hear of the Savior and believe in Him (note Acts 13:47-49).

4. What urgency do we find in the gracious command the Lord issues in Isaiah 55:6 (printed below?)

Seek Jehovah while he may be found; call to him while he is near. (Isaiah 55:6)

In verse 6 there is issued the gracious command, “Seek Jehovah while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.” The Lord makes a gracious offer that requires a response; there is the need to respond to the Lord’s call (note Romans 10:13, “Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”) There is also a note of urgency: there is a time when the Lord calls—and this is the time to respond, for that divine call of sovereign grace might not continue to be addressed to your heart indefinitely—consider our Lord’s teaching as it is presented in John 12:35-36a. There is always the temptation to put off dealing with the Lord until a later time: I shall entrust my life to Christ at a later date, at present I am a child enjoying my childhood, at present I am a teenager getting my education, at present I am a young man/woman establishing my career and family, at present I am in the prime of my life, occupied with my business, at present I am newly retired, enjoying my leisure time. But it is an extremely dangerous thing to do: spiritually, it is extremely dangerous to put off Christ until a later date, to toy with and resist the grace of God as it is offered to you, to resist the call of the Lord. In Hebrews 3:15 we are exhorted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

5. What encouragement does the Lord provide for those who fear the Lord will not receive them because their sins are too great? See Isaiah 55:7-9 (printed below)

Let the wicked man forsake his way, and let the unrighteous man forsake his thoughts. Let him return to Jehovah, and he will have mercy on him. Let him return to our God, for he will abundantly pardon—(8) for my thoughts are not like your thoughts, neither are your ways the same as my ways, declares Jehovah. (9) As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:7-9)

We should note that the invitation is extended even to “the wicked;” it is not limited only to those who may be considered “respectable sinners.” Verse 7b gives the assurance that when we approach Christ with faith and repentance we are greeted with mercy and pardon. As verses 8-9 indicate, that assurance is grounded in the very character of God: our Lord is moved with compassion towards a contrite sinner, against such a one the Lord does not harbor a desire for vengeance and retribution (note Ezekiel 33:11 and Luke 15:10).