Satan is making an unprecedented attack on the Church of Jesus Christ. Many churches across the United States and around the world are experiencing tension, division, upheaval, and separation. This chaos has been amplified in part by issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Who would have thought that Satan could cause disunity among many Christian congregations with a simple issue like whether or not to wear a mask? In Christ’s last prayer before being crucified, He prayed, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one . . .” (John 17:20-21). Where is our unity? What is the focus of our priorities? Where is the love and consideration that we as Christian believers are called to show one another (see John 13:34-35)?
What would the Apostle Paul say to us today? The believers at Corinth were divided into at least four camps: Paul, Apollos, Cephas (Peter), and those who claimed to be “of Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:12). This situation created chaos in the camp. Paul was admonishing them to rise above these petty divisions. After speaking of these contentions in the church, Paul emphatically asked, “Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? . . . For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect” (1 Corinthians 1:13,17). Paul was certain that Christ sent him to preach the gospel.
Another area where Satan seems to be focusing his attacks is in the area of immorality. An alarming number of men in leadership in Christian churches and ministries have succumbed to moral failure in recent years. These failures are very disappointing. They serve as a warning to us. We are all susceptible. “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness” (2 Peter 3:17). Satan loves to topple anybody he can, in any way that he can.
We need to constantly pray for one another. Pray especially for those in leadership in your congregation, as well as those serving at the regional and national levels (depending on how your church is set up). Keep evangelists, missionaries, and other Christian workers in your prayers. Pray for those in leadership of Christian ministries. Satan loves to bring them down because it brings a reproach to Christianity.
Besides division among congregations and immorality among Christian leadership, there’s a high level of fear and uncertainty felt globally. Citizens in many countries are experiencing trials and chaos due to unstable or corrupt leadership. The goals on the agenda of many rulers worldwide are directly opposed to what God says in His holy Word. Issues like the coronavirus, civil unrest and increasing violence, strained family relationships, and increasing personal and national debt are causing increasing fear among many. We face an uncertain future here in this world.
Satan is attacking the Church of Jesus Christ generally, and the saints individually. He knows his time is short (Revelation 12:12). Are we just as aware that our time here on this earth is short? Are we diligently “about our Father’s business” (Luke 2:49)? Whether we are called to our heavenly home in a few days or after many years, our time here on this earth is very short in light of eternity. Are we faithful in carrying out His final commission about reaching the lost with the gospel message?
In Isaiah 55, the prophet was speaking to a people who were in captivity. Their future was uncertain, their life was hard, and they were discouraged. Isaiah 55 is an invitation from God to His people calling them from their thirst and longings to peace, joy and satisfaction. God was inviting His people to return to Him, and He promised not only to restore them, but to use them to draw the nations unto Him. He promised fulfillment in place of thirst. God was calling them to be stable and useful trees rather than scrubby desert plants. Only God could take the Jewish captives from a place of scarcity and slavery to abundance and freedom, and only God can do the same for us!
For this message we will use the following outline based on Isaiah 55:
- 1. Nourishment for our soul and spirit (verses 1-2)
- 2. God has made an everlasting covenant with us (verses 3-5)
- 3. Seek the Lord while there is opportunity (verses 6-9)
- 4. Sow the seed of the Word in faith (verses 10-13)
In the midst of the chaos in which we find ourselves, we need to proclaim this message from Isaiah 55! This message can be proclaimed in many different ways, but it is essential that our words and our lives be consistent. If our walk does not line up with our talk, this will turn people away from seeking God instead of drawing them toward Him. They may look at us and say, “If that’s what it means to be a follower of Christ, then I don’t want anything to do with it!”
1. Nourishment for our Soul and Spirit (verses 1-2)
Isaiah 55 begins with an invitation to come and enjoy great spiritual blessings. Those who have no money are invited to indulge in milk and wine for no charge. Those who are thirsty are invited to living waters. “Waters,” which is plural, indicates an abundance.
Water is a vital element that all plants, animals, and humans need to sustain life. We cannot exist without water. As I was pondering over this chapter, I began to wonder just why water is so vital to all life. What is it about H2O that is so important?
Every living organism we know of needs water to survive. Without water, life on earth would not exist. Water plays a critical role in the survival of everything. It acts both as a solvent (dissolving essential vitamins and nutrients from food) and a delivery mechanism (delivering those essential vitamins and nutrients to the cells). Our bodies use water to flush out the toxins, regulate body temperature, and aid in digestion. Water makes up nearly 60 percent of our bodies. No wonder we can’t go for more than a few days without it. [adapted from an article: https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/geophysics/water-vital-to-life.htm; accessed 27 February 2021]
So we see that God ordained water to be essential to our basic survival.
“Waters” in this passage is a metaphor for the law and wisdom of God (from Adam Clarke’s Commentary). Even as the body cannot exist without water, we believers in Christ cannot exist without true wisdom. Paul declares Jesus to be the power and wisdom of God. “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). It is in Christ that are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). Jesus said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Milk is to strengthen and nourish our bodies. Wine is to cheer the soul. Just so, the spiritual blessings of God’s Word are meant not only for sustenance, but to strengthen, cheer, and nourish our hearts.
Note the warning in verse 2 about spending our money on things that do not satisfy. This is a warning that we should be diligent about our affections. What are the things that claim our time and attention? “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3). Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
2. God has made an Everlasting Covenant with Us (verses 3-5)
God’s everlasting covenant (pointing to the Lamb of God from the very beginning) is with the Messiah through David (Ezekiel 34:23), and therefore God has made a covenant with us by our identification with the Messiah, Jesus Christ. This covenant is sure and everlasting, it is irrevocable, unfailing, to be relied on. Jesus bore witness to this everlasting covenant through His death. This covenant is not only for this life, but for eternity.
This covenant is not just for a certain group of people, or a particular nation. In verse 5, we note that God’s call extends beyond a single nation (Israel) to nations that did not know God. The gospel is spreading to many nations, and will be spread even more so as time marches on. When speaking of end time events, Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14; emphasis added).
3. Seek the Lord while there is Opportunity (verses 6-9)
In verse 6, the admonition is to seek the Lord while He may be found. The door of opportunity for salvation will not always be open. While this applies primarily to unbelievers, believers also need to take the opportunity to serve the Lord while there is time. “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). None of us has the promise of being on this earth tomorrow. We could pass from this life at any time. Thus, the call in verse 6 is very applicable to each one personally.
There is a time coming when the Holy Spirit will not be present here on earth the same way He is now. “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7). While Paul does not specifically identify who or what the restraining force is, we believe the restrainer is the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Spirit working through the New Testament Church.
Verse 7 indicates that a cleansing is needed. All who are unrighteous need to repent! The word “unrighteous” here refers to the more subtle workings of sin in our “thoughts.” We may think we’re safe before God because we are not openly wicked in our ways. But God warns us to make sure that our thoughts are sanctified as well as our outward actions!
Apart from the work of Christ on the Cross, our unrighteous thoughts condemn us before a just and holy God (see Psalms 81:11-12). Yet verse 7 invites us to return unto the Lord with the promise that He will have mercy. We are called to turn to our God and He will abundantly pardon. What good news! What a precious promise this is when we know we are guilty of backsliding. We do not need to doubt God’s willingness to forgive or to pardon.
God does not think the way we think. He does not evaluate us according to our merit, or we would be doomed! Even as the heavens are high above the earth, so are God’s ways high above our ways.
Are we willing to abandon ourselves and our personal agenda to God’s will, God’s way, and ultimately, to God Himself? Can we be content to let God rule the earth? The Bible teaches that God sets up kings, and He removes kings (see Daniel 2:21). God rules in the kingdoms of men, and gives those kingdoms to whomever He wills. He sets up over those kingdoms the basest of men to accomplish His purposes (see Daniel 4:17). Can we acknowledge that God’s ways are high above our ways? Can we surrender our own set of plans and let God be God?
We do not know why things happen the way they do. For example, it hurts greatly when a close loved one is taken from us in death. I’m thinking just now of a pastor of an inner city church who also served as the school administrator. He died at 59 years of age on Christmas morning of 2019 after a painful journey with cancer. I’m thinking of a young man who became ill (it didn’t seem to be serious), whose life was suddenly snuffed out at the age of 15. In these circumstances, we don’t know what to say to the close relatives and friends. We do not know the “whys” of this life. But we can hold onto the hand of the One who does!
4. Sow the Seed of the Word in Faith (verses 10-13)
God has a great work for water to do as it goes through its cycles. God decreed that water falls down from the sky in the form of rain or snow. It then flows down a stream and waters the land around the stream, or else the water falls on the earth and provides sustenance to plants, animals, and humans.
Even as God has ordained a very important work for water to do in His marvelous creation, just so God has an important work for you to do during your sojourn here on this earth! As you pass through this life, your life has an influence on the lives of others. Your presence will make a difference for better or for worse. Which will it be? Does your aura leave people with a desire to draw closer to God, or reject Him and all things related to Christianity?
Just as water gives life to all living things, God has determined that His Word will give life to people. God has promised that when we sow His Word, it will not be lost, but it will accomplish whatever God has established for it to do. Even as rain may seem to be lost when it falls on a desert, yet it fulfills the purpose of God. Just so the gospel will accomplish God’s purpose when it falls on a hard heart. Sometimes it works a change at last; but if not, at the very least it leaves the person without an excuse (Romans 1:20).
An account was recently given to me about a husband and wife who attended a small country church for many years. After attending for a while, the wife yielded her life to Christ and became a member. Her husband was content to attend the services, but never gave his heart to Christ. He was a drunkard and smoked a lot during the time they raised their family. The wife asked for prayer for her husband many times over the years. As they advanced in years, the husband got very sick. Finally, the doctors said they could do no more for him. The wife asked to have him anointed. The very sick man was anointed, and rallied. He was miraculously healed. Sometime later, during a revival meeting, the pastor of that church took the evangelist to visit the man. During that visit, he surrendered his life to Christ and was gloriously saved! He lost his desire for cigarettes and alcohol. His one big regret was that his whole family was not saved.
While not every circumstance like this will turn out favorably (according to our view), yet we can rest assured that God’s Word will accomplish God’s purpose. We are called to sow the Word in faith, trusting that God will bring about the full accomplishment of His purpose regardless of the circumstances around us.
God graciously uses us to point others to Christ through our testimony as He draws them through His Holy Spirit. The realization that Christ (the hope of glory) is in us and working through us brings true and lasting joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment (see Colossians 1:27).
Can you join Isaiah as he concludes this chapter by breaking forth into praise? “For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12).