Isaiah provides a promise of future glory to Jerusalem in chapter 54 and an open invitation to drink from the fountain in chapter 55. Chapter 55 is cross-referenced like crazy! Just 13 verses with 106 cross-references that span the Bible. Take some time and read this chapter, one that is full of imagery and promise for a better time.
As I understand it, a barren woman was shameful in that culture. Jerusalem will be exiled, eventually come to ruin, but the Lord’s promise will one day be fulfilled in great glory:
Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
Paul refers to this in his letter to the Galatians (see Galatians 4:21-31) as he appeals to them using Isaiah 54:1. This underscores the reason why I want to understand the Old Testament better before diving into the New Testament again. Paul was no doubt fully immersed in the teachings of what they knew as the Bible of their time, so it helps to try and grasp a bit of perspective.
no weapon forged against you will prevail,
and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.
God’s promise is complete vindication in the end. One day there will be peace.
Those who have been exiled are invited to return, to eat and drink until they are full:
“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.
Everyone is invited to the kingdom at no cost, it is freely offered for all. Jesus referred to the living waters in his discussion with the Samaritan woman in John 4; an open invitation for those far from God.
There is a sense of urgency within this wonderful promise:
Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
“While he may be found” is a bit disturbing–at some point it will be too late to seek the Lord. It’s hard to think about, but then again:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
That helps. My brain isn’t capable of comprehending the thoughts of God, no even close, but it doesn’t have to! Christ is there with open arms inviting all to come near:
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Way back in the old days (circa 1996), we sang Isaiah 55:12 as the benediction for our contemporary worship service at Monument Community Presbyterian Church. Fond memories indeed! I pray that today you will go out with joy, that you will be led forth with peace; hear the mountains and the hills burst into song before you; listen to the trees and the fields as they clap their hands. May you find the peace of Christ this day and may it fill your heart with gladness:
You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.