‘Come, all you who are 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 (NIVUK)
In the space of one verse Isaiah invites people to come to the Lord God four times. These invitations are not just to Israel but to all nations (vv. 5-6) – they are universal calls to come – and they encapsulate the gospel message.
First, the call to come goes out to all who are thirsty. To be without water in the Middle East was not just an inconvenience, it was life-threatening and could well result in death. This is the position all humanity finds itself in after turning its back on God (cf. Romans 6:23). The solution is to come to the waters. Isaiah seems to have in mind here the Middle Eastern water-seller who sold water because access to clean water was life itself. The New Testament continues this theme when it shows that whoever comes to Jesus will be given ‘living water,’ ‘welling up to eternal life.’ (John 4:10, 14).
Then, the call to come, buy and eat, goes out to those with no money, highlighting the inability and helplessness of the person to buy. How can someone without money buy food to eat? The apparent contradiction is resolved when recognising that while this food is free, it is not cheap. It must have a purchase price and the implication is that a price has been paid by God himself. Human beings are totally unable to buy or earn their own salvation, it is a free gift given by the grace of God, and this free gift came at a price (1 Corinthians 6:20) – the self-sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Finally, when we come, we receive ‘wine and milk,’ which stresses the richness of the provision – we are invited to a banquet. We are not given just the bare necessity of water for survival but the luxury of wine and milk for generous satisfaction. This is a picture of the splendour and abundance God gives to those who come to him.
So, why chase after the things the world has to offer which ultimately won’t satisfy us (Isaiah 55:2)? Come to the Lord and live (v.3) and you will find joy and peace in him (v.12).
Father, help us to reflect on this great gospel invitation, for we are in desperate need of your grace. Thank you that you are so generous with your provision, and that it is all free – free for us, for it cost the price of your Son. May we come to you to live and be endowed with your splendour. Amen.
Study by Barry Robinson
About the writer:
Barry Robinson is a Minister and part of the National Ministry Team directing Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland. He is also the Pastoral Worker for the south of England, particularly in the Camberwell and Central London congregations of Grace Communion International.
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