Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. — Isaiah 55:2
Just after the turn of the twentieth century, a homeless man in the city of Baltimore found a gold coin lying on the street. He considered all the things that he could do with the money. He could buy a supply of wine and have his fill of it for many days. However, it was Christmastime and he knew he would feel bad if he hoarded it all for himself. So he thought, I will buy as much as I can but I will share it with my homeless friends.
Satisfied that he had made the right choice, he started down the street to go to the liquor store. As he was passing along the store fronts he noticed a baseball bat exhibited in one of the shop windows. His mind went back to his childhood and he remembered how desperately he wanted to have his very own baseball bat as a young boy. After reflecting on this for awhile, he went inside the store and used his gold coin to purchase the baseball bat. The homeless man then walked a few blocks back in the direction he had come, and stopped at the door of an orphanage building. When a staff member answered his knock, he asked if they would please give the bat to the young lad who played stickball in the courtyard every day. The gift was delivered. And the young boy who received the bat made good use of it — he grew up to become the baseball legend, Babe Ruth.
The homeless man realized his best choice was to give the young boy a gift that would bring happiness at Christmas and a source of enjoyment in the following days. The wrong choice would have brought momentary personal pleasure, but no lasting satisfaction and probable remorse at not having done the right thing.
In our focus verse, Isaiah was telling the people of Israel to choose carefully. He admonished them not to spend their resources and efforts on things that would never satisfy. Isaiah encouraged the people to obediently follow God, and promised they would be spiritually well-fed if they did so.
Giving our lives to God is the best choice that we can make. The deep satisfaction, joy, peace, and contentment that all of us naturally crave are met when we submit ourselves to God and His plan. Subsequent choices should be based on our desire to build our relationship with Him. We will find that decisions which inhibit our ability to read God’s Word, spend time in prayer, or miss church services lead to dissatisfaction and spiritual leanness.
God desires for us to enjoy the Gospel and the satisfaction it brings, but the choice is ours. Let us be sure to choose the best!
A universal call to the empty and poor is the emphasis of the first verse of this chapter, where the spiritually thirsty are invited, “Come ye to the waters.” Because of the scarcity of water in the Middle East at this time, it was especially appreciated by the people there. A town or village was known throughout the country for the quality of its water, which was described by many adjectives, such as “light,” “heavy,” “sweet,” etc. (This is why David longed for a drink of water from the well at Bethlehem; it “tasted” like home.)
Water was necessary for life, but milk was considered food. It ranked next to bread in importance. Israel was frequently described as a land “flowing with milk and honey.” Milk was among the first things set before a weary traveler. The people used the milk of cattle, sheep, and especially goats. It had to be consumed quickly (or made into cheese) because it soured so fast in the climate of that region.
While water did not spoil and milk could be drawn fresh from an animal for each use, grape juice was another matter. Tirosh was the Hebrew word used to describe fresh-pressed grape juice. Keeping grape juice safe enough to drink until the next harvest was difficult, especially in the warm and not overly-clean conditions of ancient Palestine. Fermentation was the answer. Yayin (translated “wine” in verse one) was the word used for grape juice that had been allowed to ferment enough to keep safely.
The prophet urged the people not to spend “money” (representing self-effort) for that which is “not bread” (spiritually satisfying.) God’s salvation is freely offered, but individuals must receive it in order for it to nourish their souls.
The Servant did not die only for the sins of Israel, but also for the sins of the whole world. The prophet Isaiah makes it clear in verse five, by referring to “nations that knew not thee,” that the Gentiles are included in God’s plan. In this chapter, he begins a threefold invitation to the Gentiles: come (verses 1-5) and seek (verses 6-13). The final element of this invitation is worship, and it is found in the first eight verses of the next chapter.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The message of consolation: The Holy One of Israel comforting, redeeming and enriching
B. The person of the deliverer (redemption)
7. The inclusion of Gentiles in the kingdom blessing
a. The invitation extended (55:1-5)
b. The call to seek the Lord (55:6-7)
c. The explanation of the Lord’s ways (55:8-11)
d. The results of acceptance (55:12-13)
Salvation is available to all and will certainly produce the results which God intended in the hearts of those who seek and receive it.