Is. 55: 1-11 Midweek (Joy) “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. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to Me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. 3 Give ear and come to Me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, My faithful love promised to David. 4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples. 5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for He has endowed you with splendor.” 6 Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon. 8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 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. 12 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. 13 Instead of the thorn bush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.”
Tonight we come to the 3rd Advent reading and as you can see, it is filled with verses many of us know by heart. How many times have we heard: 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. Or: Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Or:6 Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Or: For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. Again: 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. These are verses we have grown up with and are often used in sermons. Each verse is worthy of special consideration.
This chapter starts out asking us why we waste our time, energy and even hopes on things which will not satisfy in the long run. In Ecclesiastes 2:15 we see a similar concept. So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. … 2 What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun?… A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without Him, who can eat or find enjoyment?
This week‘s emphasis is on JOY. We have examined HOPE and PEACE and now JOY. And we can see already that there is no lasting hope, peace or joy without the blessing of the Lord. The above verses tell us that on our own we can only find a futility when we really look at things under the microscope of time. On the other hand, with God, we can find Joy. This verse says it for us: Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. I believe we have all experienced things which seemed overwhelming at the time, but later on, either they were not so bad as we first believed or better yet turn out to be a blessing in disguise. St Paul put it this way, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
Consider Joseph. He was placed in a pit as a young boy and sold into slavery buy his own brothers! He went from being a servant to being falsely jailed. Then he went from the jail to be the king’s, right-hand man. When he met up with his brothers and they recognized who he was, they were afraid he would take revenge on them- which they justly deserved! But instead, what did he say? “Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”
I recall my first Call from the seminary. The professor in charge called me in and said that I had a call from a local congregation and they were obliged to give it to me if I wanted it. However, he recommended that I place myself in their hands and let them decide which call I ought to have. I accepted his recommendation and when call day came I was given a dual parish in both Oklahoma and Texas. I looked at the things stated in the documents, including some of the pictures. The other men brought theirs to class and showed them around. There were 8 of us graduating ahead of our class by 6 months. Each of them had far superior Calls than I had. “Brother, where’s your document and your pictures,” they asked. “I left them home,” I answered.
Then my counselor called me in. He looked worried. And he finally said. “Linsey, …. Your call is to a Russian/German congregation and I have to tell you, these are the hardest people to minister to. They come from Russia and are used to the elders running everything and they don’t like pastors.” The Story of Daniel and the Lion’s pit came to mind. My parsonage was plain and simple while the other guys had very nice homes. One picture showed a group of people in long coats with those tall Russian fur hats. Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy! Lord have mercy!
Well, it turned out that the problems of pastors and elders had been resolved 50 years before I arrived there. They were loving and gracious people and I still have an affection for them, one that I don’t have even for my last parish, nor my California one. I had a great stay there and it was exactly what I needed to get my feet on the ground and to help me for my next call.
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 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.
God’s Word is a great treasure. His promises are sure. For one thing, we were dead in our sins and trespasses in which we once walked as Ephesians tells us. We were spiritually dead and unable to believe in God or reach out to Him. But Faith comes from hearing the Word of Christ as Paul tells us. God’s Word did not return unto Him void but accomplished His purpose in bringing us to faith. This goes back to our Catechism: I believe that I cannot believe in my Lord Jesus Christ or come to Him but the Holy Spirit gas called me by the Gospel…”
The Gospel! The Good News! “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.” Knowing that, You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace..”
So- “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. And what is that Bread that we are most interested in? The Bread of Life- that is Jesus Christ Himself. Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.” So Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to Me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. 3 Give ear and come to Me; hear Me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you…” Amen
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