Let the Wicked Return to the Lord

Let the Wicked Return to the Lord

In the midst of the Book of Comfort is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. Isaiah 55 begins with a plea from God: “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (v. 1). The invitation—echoed later in Jesus’ words in John 4 and 6—is almost too good to be true. Who would believe that someone would offer food for free? And if someone did, surely the food would not be worth eating.

But no. God goes on to plead with His hearers to forsake their practice of pursuing food that does not satisfy: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” He then reveals the goodness of the food that He offers: “Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live” (Isa. 55:2–3). The food is rich, and it is good. It is no earthly food; this food, the food that truly satisfies, is the Word of God. The one who listens to God will be filled.

This is not a call to abandon all other interests than the Lord but rather a call to recognize Him as the highest pursuit. Where are we ultimately finding satisfaction? In success, money, or power? Or in the One who made us, who knows us, and who calls us to Himself? The things of this world cannot ultimately satisfy, because they were not made to. We are called to forsake our empty, unfulfilling, self-focused endeavors and to come to God and be satisfied.

God offers this rich food to His people, the Israelites. The offer is in keeping with His promises to them in the past, as He notes by referencing His covenant with David in verses 3–4. The richness of the Word of God as revealed to Israel is so attractive that other nations will come to hear it (v. 5). For Israel, it is easy to hear this Word. But still, they are urged to “seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near” (v. 6).

But the call to seek the Lord, as hinted at in verse 5, does not go out only to Israel; it goes out to the nations as well. All nations and all peoples are called to seek the Lord. Moreover, “the wicked” are called to seek the Lord: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (v. 7).

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