God has always been inviting people to come to him. From one end of the Bible to the other we read of God’s call to come.
God’s Call to “Come”
In Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve hid after they had eaten the forbidden fruit, God called to them “Where are you?”. Then at the other end of the Bible, in Revelation,
The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
Revelation 22:17 (NIV)
Elsewhere in the New Testament Jesus often invited people to come to him. In Isaiah 55:1-2 God again calls people to him. It’s an invitation to all people – all who are thirsty or hungry. In Isaiah the invitation was particularly aimed at the returning exiles, who God would restore. They were spiritually thirsty and God would refresh them. We think nothing of turning on a tap and getting a glass of water to drink, and we can request water from any restaurant in the country and know that it will be free. But the ancient Israelites were having a hard time and even had to buy their water.
1 ‘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 labour on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Isaiah 55:1-2 (NIV)
God’s Gift of Abundance
The thought of having wine and milk would have been like a dream – a vision of abundance that most people could not have afforded. But God says come and buy wine and milk without money. He wants to provide us with abundance. The world tries to tell us that we can be satisfied by material things. It’s true that to some extent we can be satisfied, for a while, by the things around us. How many here love to go shopping for new clothes, or new shoes? What about the latest electronic gadget or new car? But these things don’t last, and don’t fully satisfy.
What this world provides will not fully satisfy us spiritually, and the New Testament makes it clear that it is only Jesus who can do that. In the gospel of John, for example, we read,
32 Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’
34 ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘always give us this bread.’
35 Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’
John 6:32-35 (NIV)
Buying Wisely Without Money
God asks us why we spend our money on things that don’t satisfy, when what he provides will not cost us anything. It’s not that it is free, as God still said “buy and eat” and “buy wine and milk”. Isaiah had already been given a glimpse of the future when, back in chapter 53, God had revealed to him a vision of God’s Servant. We now know that it is God, through Jesus Christ, who has paid the price for us. By “buying” God’s spiritual food we are assured of its possession, and by having the price paid for us, so that we do not need money, we need to depend totally on God’s grace.
God invites us to come to the feast that he has prepared for all people, and gives to us as a gift (see Ephesians 2:8). The spiritual food that he provides will satisfy every need.
So what is this spiritual food that will satisfy every need? Of course, the greatest gift that God has given to us is his son, e.g.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (NIV)
Through the death and resurrection of God the Son, Jesus Christ, we can all have a way to reach heaven and God the Father.
God will also bless those who return to him. The Old Testament is full of God promising his blessing on his people. He is the source of all blessing, and when we return to him he will bless us, and that will enable us to be a blessing to others. As brothers and sisters in Christ we have a blessing that can spill over into our community. Those of us who went to the “All for One” Spring Harvest event were reminded of Jesus’ prayer in John 17: that all who believe in him may be one so that the world will believe that God has sent him.
Other spiritual food can be spiritual gifts such as those Paul lists in 1 Corinthians 12: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing of spirits, speaking in tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. James also talks about the gift of wisdom from God:
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
James 1:5 (NIV)
I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
God Offers the Best
God offers us the best, and his words are life-giving and nourishing:
Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best,
fill yourself with only the finest.
Pay attention, come close now,
listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words.
Isaiah 55:2 (The Message)