[Feb 11]--Open Invitation

Isaiah 55:1-7

            Have you ever seen a crowd at a “Black Friday” or “Fourth of July” sale? It’s a madhouse, a MADHOUSE I tell you! Quite frankly, you couldn’t pay me enough money to try to go in a store during one of those “prime” shopping days. Why? Because a lot of people are on the lookout for a great bargain, and those days seem to be a great time to get one.

            It’s especially true if people think they’re getting something for nothing: “Buy one, get one free” and people will buy an item they normally wouldn’t.

            But when it comes to salvation, a lot of people around the world think they have to earn a right relationship with God. In fact, that’s a pretty fair summary of the world’s religions: “Do this, and you’ll be accepted.”

            I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m a big fan of talk radio. Two of my favorite hosts are Michael Medved and Dennis Prager. Both of them are practicing, observant  Jews. They try to keep the Mosaic Law as best they can. Although they both have a lot of respect for Christians, they have a huge difference in theology with us. They don’t believe in the N.T., and they don’t accept Jesus as the Messiah, nor do they accept the simple message of the Good News. They only take the O.T. as authoritative, especially the Torah.

            But the concept of salvation by grace through faith is not something original with the coming of Jesus. As Paul firmly stated, we’re the spiritual heirs of Abraham. He was counted as righteous just by believing what God told him, just as we are.

            And nowhere is the Good News for Old Covenant believers more clearly stated than in today’s passage. The world offers, and religion offers, and the Enemy offers peace with the Almighty. “Do this, and you’ll be fine. Pray these prayers in a certain way, be a good person, give money to the poor, don’t harm other people, don’t cheat on your spouse, etc., and you’ll probably make it in.”

            But the Lord, speaking through his servant Isaiah, offers an invitation to everyone who’s listening. Normally wine and milk were pretty expensive. If you had no money, then you had nothing to offer. And in God’s economy, we’re all bankrupt. Totally and completely. We can never make up for the bad we’ve done. But he comes along and he says “I know you have no money. I know that you’re spiritually bankrupt. But you don’t have to pay for it. I’m offering it for free. Just accept it, and it’s yours.” You bring nothing to this transaction except your sin and your need.

            You’re dying of thirst. You’re dying, period. If you’ll listen to him, you’ll live. And more than that, you’ll “delight in the richest of fare.” If you’ll come to him, you won’t just be treated better than you deserve; you’ll be treated far better than you ever dreamed.

            But the open invitation is not open forever. Take a close look at the last two verses in today’s reading. You must “[seek] the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” There'll come a day when the door is shut. And none of us know when that will happen.

            And there's one more thing I have to point out, otherwise I’d be remiss. In this passage, you might get the impression from vss. 1-2 that this is “easy believism”—Just pray a prayer, accept God’s free gift, and then you can live life as you please. Um, no. You have to forsake your “wicked ways,” and your “wicked thoughts.” Does this mean he demands that you “clean up” your life before you come to him? Of course not! You do the coming, he does the cleaning. But part of the process of coming is the acknowledgement that you’re accepting him as your boss. From now on, you’re committing yourself to doing things his way, not yours. It’s a change in direction for your life. If you’d like to read some more to clear up any confusion, you can see it here.

            If you’re reading this and are already a believer, then hopefully this is a great reminder of what he’s done for you. Any such reminder should engender gratitude and a recommitment of yourself to be a more pleasing and obedient child.

            If you’re not a believer, or if you’re not sure, then please read this. Furthermore, I want to point you to the grand and glorious promise in the last words of today’s verses. They are for you! “[Turn] to the Lord, and he will have mercy on [you], and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” Yes, no matter what it is.

Father God, you've done so much more for me than I deserve, so much more than I could've imagined. I’ve said it before, but I want to say it again now: We’re doing things your way from now on.

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