Chapter 55 of Isaiah is like the Gospel of John in its passionate appeal to people to open their eyes to the gifts that God is offering so freely and to grasp them in faith and repentance while there is time.

We are not encouraged to seek the “Gifts” apart from God Himself. Righteousness is not a quality of life bestowed upon us by God and then retained independent of our relationship with Him. To know the righteousness of God is to know God in His righteousness. To know the love of God is to respond to God’s love in a self giving way. Without a personal relationship to God there is a void in our lives that can never be filled. Thus, we should not thirst for “SOMETHING” from God, but should thirst for God Himself, for the living God. “As the deer longs for flowing streams, O longs my soul for Thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalms 42:2).

Water is a symbol of God’s presence in the world. Water flowing in the desert represents God’s coming into the deserts of human life. Isaiah emphasizes that only God’s gifts of bread, wine, and milk can give us life. We have been so made that we are truly alive ONLY when we respond in thankfulness and obedience to God.

It is ironic, but Israel’s religious institutions and traditions became their chief obstacles to the fulfillment of her destiny. Their trust in religion prevented them from becoming the humble Servant of God. Indeed Isaiah classified religion and religious institutions among those things that CAN be bought with money and effort. People are willing to spend time and money if they think that through it they can secure the things they want. But the water of life and the bread of life can not be purchased or earned by any human effort. They have to be accepted as gifts. These are gifts one can never deserve because in giving them God gives Himself and in receiving them we receive God Himself.

Because the gifts are free does not mean that we have to give nothing in return, but it means we can give nothing less than ourselves.

             Dr. Taylor A. McKenzie

 November 25, 2018