We are both thinking and feeling creatures. It is not enough to know the truth. You and I must experience it.
Hear, everyone who thirsts;Isaiah 55:1 (NRSVUE)
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Jesus echoed these words when He said I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me will never be hungry or thirsty again.
But how do we do that?
What is it that we are eating and drinking?
Isaiah tells us.
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,Isaiah 55:2-3 (NRSVUE)
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant
Jesus said, in reference to the Holy Spirit, If anyone is thirsty come and drink, and also the words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. Water, oil, and wine are often metaphors in Scripture for the Holy Spirit. Jesus calls Himself the Bread of Life, the staple of life, and the apostles referred to milk as the nurturing quality of Jesus’s words. When you and I put that all together, we realize listening to God through scripture and prayer is far more than an intellectual exercise, even though it is stimulating to think about and talk about.
The writer of Hebrews put it this way,
The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.Hebrews 4:12 (NRSV)
Isaiah then referred to another everlasting covenant God had made, with David, Israel’s greatest king. Through David would come the one who would reign over all the earth forever, and His love would be steadfast and sure. He would be glorified by the Lord God.
Knowing all this, Isaiah urged,
Seek the Lord while he may be found;Isaiah 55:6 (NRSVUE)
call upon him while he is near
There is no time to wait. You and I are reading these words today. The Lord is near us right now. Today is the day to draw near to God.
But what does it mean, then, to seek the Lord?
At least part of it is going to be about repenting. When you and I are far from God it is because we are the ones who have been moving away. Repentance involves turning around from that direction and turning towards God. Whenever you and I are willing to do that, we discover, every time, that God will have compassion on us and will abundantly pardon us—
return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,Isaiah 55:7 (NRSVUE, italics added)
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
My Ways Area Higher
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,Isaiah 55:8-9 (NRSV)
nor are your ways my ways, says 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.
It is true God’s thoughts and ways are so far above and beyond us as to be unreachable. But this is the amazing thing about God: the Lord makes God knowable!
For as the rain and the snow come down from heavenIsaiah 55:10-11 (NRSVUE)
and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
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 succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
God’s word is both the seed and the rain in this picture. God has planted God’s word within us, and it is by God’s word that what the Lord has put within us comes to life and bears fruit.
This condition is so unique and filled with such power that Jesus called it being born anew from above. He announced that spiritual rebirth was an absolute necessity for entering the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit recreates the human heart, putting into your heart, and mine, an inclination towards God and a desire for the things of God. Without this recreative work of the Spirit, it seems people would have no desire for God. Yet it is also a synergistic work God chooses to do, for we must also choose, we must respond, making faith possible and real.
Then, just as a baby grows, so a new believer grows, on the milk of God’s word, becoming progressively more aware of what it means to have this new life within, and how to live and move about in the new life.
“Rebirth” in theological terms is referred to as regeneration. Regeneration takes what was once dead spiritually and causes it to be born again in newness of life. It is a new generating, a new genesis, a new beginning. It is not simply “turning over a new leaf,” but rather marks the beginning of a new life in a radically, supernaturally, renewed person. It is one aspect of salvation.
It is that act by which the Holy Spirit puts God’s eternal life into a person who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The Bible declares that this person is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
When you and I put our faith in the Lord Jesus we have been regenerated, we are at that moment made into a new creation and we have received the Holy Spirit into our inner beings. The Holy Spirit will teach, guide, convict, illuminate, empower, encourage, uplift, and so much more. This is the Spirit of Christ, one who is exactly the same as Jesus Himself.
So the living word of God pours forth, active, from the scriptures and from the Holy Spirit as the Spirit helps you and me to understand what God is saying to us. As we apply those words to our lives, in the power of the Holy Spirit, something remarkable, even supernatural happens. God’s purpose for us is accomplished. You and I begin to experience God’s love more deeply, we experience Shalom in more aspects of our lives, and God’s larger purpose for us is also accomplished, bearing, as Jesus put it, fruit that will last.
God promises transformation for those who turn to the Lord
This is cause for uproarious rejoicing and celebration indeed!
For you shall go out in joyIsaiah 55:12-13 (NRSVUE)
and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall burst into song,
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 be to the Lord for a memorial,
for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.