God’s Promise: Isaiah 55:1-9
The rich and the poor are on the same page here. They are in the same description of God’s bounty and the same invitation to abundant life. What the rich and the poor have in common is that they need God’s love and are the recipients of God’s promise to make an everlasting covenant with us. Money can’t buy that and poverty does not disqualify one from receiving it. When something is free, money is taken out of the picture. This passage is a picture of God’s bounty, God’s love, and God’s people.
One receives this rich gift of life by listening to God (vv 2-3). God’s word should be our food; God’s promise should be our strength. God’s love for us should be our energy; God’s glory should be the purpose of our living. The lowly shepherd boy, David, became a leader and commander. There is no limit to how God’s glory can be shown when God is our food, our strength, and our energy. Our hope is in God. God’s promise includes nations and opportunities and futures we do not know. God’s presence with us connects this day to that future; it is a gift.
Lent is a time of seeking the Lord. The very act of seeking God brings new perspective to our lives. The lesser things of life must bow when God is near. The things we spend money on and the things we wish for know their place, but do not have to take that lower place until God is present.
The wicked and the unrighteous are as welcome as anyone else to receive God’s gift of life made abundant by God’s presence and perspective. Lent puts things in perspective and levels the playing field. “Let them (the rich, poor, wicked, and unrighteous) return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (v 7). The righteous are not named here, but by this time they have come to realize they are not righteous at all, and they find their place on the list.
All this may not make sense upon first hearing, or given present life circumstances, but God’s thoughts are not like ours; God’s ways are not like ours (v 8). God makes all things new, even our thought processes and standards of assessing worth.
A new way of thinking, of evaluating, of determining worth-these are gifts that cannot be purchased, money or no money. Food for the spirit that becomes more important to us than food for the body-this is a gift that only God can give, and it is offered freely. The heavens are higher than the earth, so heavenly thinking and seeing may make us a bit dizzy as we adjust to it. We may be a bit unsure or uneasy about building our lives on these teachings and promises. But when we accept them and become acclimated to the loftiness, the timelessness, and the abundance of this new perspective, we will bring glory to God and will find new meaning in life.
The “new” and the “more” that the world values must stay at the lower level of importance and worth. The higher thoughts and motivations and perspectives of God lift the life of the one who will receive the gift. If we will accept the gift, our life will encourage everyone, from those around us to folks we don’t even know. Our lives will be encouragement to consider the new reality, the eternal reality of God’s covenant and abundant life. First we must return to God.
God, we accept your gift. We want to see as you see.
Bless us and bless the nations through us.
A word about the series
The Lenten season has always inspired many people to create everything from poems, art and music to a completely new direction in their lives. This Lenten season Tabernacle will be exploring many of those creations in the hope of inspiring you to compose in a medium that is natural for you. The paintings in the Sanctuary are of the Biblical Stations of the Cross. The artist, Grieg Leach, completed them in 2010. They will help us to visualize the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus. In addition to the paintings there is a Lenten devotional booklet, Return to Me, which is available in print or online. The Stations of the Cross also inspired these devotions, written by Terry York of Baylor University. Living with these two bodies of artistic expression based on the Biblical Stations of the Cross throughout the season of Lent should help us as we seek to return our lives to God by walking with Jesus though his final days.
Pray, read, think and return to God.