The Invitation to Dine
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Turn in your Bibles, please, to Isaiah, chapter 55, keeping in mind that we are in the second section of the book of Isaiah, which has for its theme the comfort of the nation of Israel. This second section began with chapter 40 and the words, “Comfort ye, comfort ye, My people, saith your God.” One chapter after another has been dedicated to the comfort of the nation of Israel.

In chapter 54, at which we looked in our last lesson, we discovered that God gave them a promise that He would gather them back into their own land and that He would build for them a city that had a sure foundation. In that city they would find rest for their souls, and they would find all of the help and the comfort and the satisfaction which they have lacked all during their years of dispersion and persecution.

As we come to chapter 55, we find God saying through His prophet Isaiah, in so many words, “Now that the city is built and you are all back home, come to dinner.” This is the message of Isaiah, chapter 55.

You will remember in chapter 14 of the Gospel of Mark, it is recorded that Jesus Christ promised His disciples that the supper that He was eating with them that night He would eat again with them at some future date. He made it a distant future date. He said, “When we are all together in the Kingdom, we will sit down again and we will eat as we are doing tonight.”

Isaiah, chapter 55, is a description of that brief reference the Lord Jesus Christ made to that final meal that will be eaten when all of the saints of God are gathered together in the Kingdom.

I have been making special reference to the nation of Israel, because we believe, as we have tried to emphasize to you again and again, that every passage of Scripture has one interpretation and as many applications as is consistent with the rest of the Word of God. The primary interpretation of this chapter is related to the nation of Israel. There can be no question about that, but there is much in it for you and for me because the principles which are enunciated here, as we shall see, can be applied to all of the children of God, though they be Jew or Gentile, whether they be bond or free.

Chapter 55 is another one of Isaiah's poems, a number of which we have already noticed. This one has four stanzas, and we will point out the stanza divisions as we go along. They are not evident in the English text, although they are evident in the original text. Follow in your Bibles as we read the first stanza of the poem in verses 1-3a:

Isaiah 55

1Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
2Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
3Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live…

We will stop right there because that is the end of the first stanza of the poem, for this much of verse 3 actually belongs to verse 2. The second stanza of the poem begins in the middle of verse 3, with the words:

Isaiah 55

3…and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.
4Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.
5Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee.

That is the end of the second stanza. The third stanza begins with verse 6:

Isaiah 55

6Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
7Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

That is the end of the third stanza of the song. The fourth stanza begins with verse 10, where we read:

Isaiah 55

10For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

The fifth stanza begins with verse 12:

Isaiah 55

12For 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.
13Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

The Invitation Rejected

You will recall that when the Lord Jesus Christ was on the earth, He told a story about a man who arranged a great wedding feast for his son. He sent out an invitation to all of the people of his particular society, saying, “Come, for all things are now ready.” One of them sent an excuse, saying, “I can't come. I have just gotten married.” Another said, “I can't come. I have just bought a piece of land, and I have to go see where I bought it. I'm not sure where it is.” Another said, “I can't come because I bought a yoke of oxen, and I don't know whether or not they are worth what I paid for them. I am going to go find out if I got gypped.”

Come and Partake

All of those excuses were foolish, silly excuses. When they were reported to the man who was giving the wedding feast, he immediately, in his anger, said, “They who have been invited shall not come, but go out into the streets and tell anybody you see that the feast is ready and they are welcome to come and partake of the food.”

You have heard many sermons on that particular story. If you have heard it related to its context, you will know that the first group of people invited to the feast was the nation of Israel, and they did not want to have anything to do with Jesus. So, God said, “It doesn't matter whether you are Jewish or not. No matter what your nationality is, wherever you are, whatever you are, come. Whosoever will may come, for the feast is ready.”

From the day that the Lord Jesus Christ was rejected down to this present hour, God has sent out that invitation. “Come, for all things are ready.” Gentiles from every class and kind have responded to the invitation and are finding the forgiveness of sins; but in the nation of Israel, from the time that the nation rejected their Messiah down to the present hour, there are individuals who are thirsty, individuals who are hungry, individuals who desire the blessing that God has for them.

As this age draws to a close and develops into those climactic events related to the end of the age, the hunger and the thirst will increase in intensity, and the folk will be more inclined to listen to the message. That is the reason that in the first stanza of this verse there is the personal appeal to every one that thirsteth. That is the reason that there is the intensity of the appeal, because it seems very difficult to get the ear of the people to whom the message is addressed.

Notice that not only is the word come expressed as an invitation, but in addition, there is the word harken . In addition to the word harken , there is the word incline or the phrase, incline your ear, which means “bend really close while I say something, because I have something very important for you to hear.” That is the reason that the invitation is again equipped with the words, “Hear, and your souls shall live.”

Not too many men in Israel are interested in this invitation. That is the reason the emphasis is placed again and again upon the words come , hear , listen , harken , pay attention . This is the message that God would have them have. I know that I do not need to say, other than to draw it to your attention, that what I have said about Israel is true of the vast majority of the Gentiles. There are not very many Gentiles interested in this message. There are not very many Gentiles who care that God has provided that all of their needs can be met. Such folk, whether they be Jew or Gentile, are foolish. That is the reason the Word of God says, in verse 1 of Isaiah, chapter 55:

Isaiah 55

1Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
2Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not…

God is saying to the nation of Israel, “The table is spread. It is loaded down with food. It is groaning under supplies that will meet your need, and you don't need any money with which to buy it. All you need is to partake of it. You don't even need to labor to deserve the meal.”

In past times there were men who would come knocking on your door saying, “I'm hungry. Have you got some work around here that I can do so I can have some supper?” You would say, “Well, there is a pile of wood out there. You can chop some of it, and I will fix you a meal.” You did, and everybody was happy. But, the Lord Jesus Christ is saying here that the food is ready and you don't even have to chop any wood for it. All you need to do is come and eat it.

Why Labor for That Which Doesn't Satisfy?

Since this is true, He asks another question. “Since you don't need any money and you don't have to work to get it, tell Me, why do you labor for that which doesn't satisfy?” Do you have the answer to that question? I have often wondered why men labor for that which does not satisfy. Then He said, “Why do you spend your money for that which will never satisfy your hunger nor quench your thirst?” Can you tell me why it is? It is the trend of human nature to turn their backs upon that which has been provided by the LORD and make their own way. It is the pride of Adam's nature, I suppose, that causes men to turn their backs upon what is freely offered and make their own way.

Come Take of the Water of Life

This is the message to Israel, and again I say it is the message to all men everywhere, because you will remember that the first public utterance of the Lord Jesus Christ by way of invitation was in Solomon's porch on the great day of the feast when He said, “Everyone who thirsteth, come, drink of the water that I have to give you. You can drink of this water and you will never thirst again.” It is the very same message whether it is found in the Old Testament or the New Testament. The last thing that the Lord Jesus Christ said, through His Church, recorded in the book of Revelation was: “Let him who is athirst come. Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely.”

That is God's invitation to you, whether you are Jew or Gentile. I don't want to take anything for granted. I don't want to assume that which I should not assume. I wonder, have you drunk of the water? Have you eaten of the food or are you still laboring and laboring and finding no rest? Are you still spending and spending and finding nothing that satisfies? The table is set. You can eat right now, even while I am making this suggestion. You don't have to wait until the service is over, for right now you can partake if you will, and I hope that you will.

Israel Included In the Davidic Covenant

To encourage the nation of Israel to eat of the food that has been so graciously provided by their God, in the second stanza of the poem, God reminded them of the reason they would be welcome at the table. Notice in the middle part of verse 3, where we read:

Isaiah 55

3… and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

The sense of the language in the original text is not that “I will make a new covenant,” it is, “I'm including you in the everlasting covenant, the sure mercies of David.”

There are a number of covenants which are mentioned in the Bible, and your correct understanding of the Word of God would demand that you know something about these covenants. We are not going to think about them save this particular one because time will not permit. This one is called the everlasting covenant, the sure mercies of David , not just the everlasting covenant . Theologians refer to it as the Davidic Covenant , the covenant that was made with David. What kind of covenant was it? Does it have any particular bearing on our relationship with God? Yes, it does.

Turn back with me to II Samuel and notice a promise that God made to David. We are not going to take the time to read the whole chapter, but it is a wonderful chapter. I never read it without being reminded of how God always does so much more for us than we expect. He always does exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think. In II Samuel, David is talking with God and he is telling God that he would like to build God a house. God said, “David, I appreciate that. I appreciate your desire, but I do not want you to build Me a house; your hands are too bloody. I can't let you build Me a house. David, don't feel too bad about it, because I'll tell you what I am going to do. I am going to build you a house, and I am going to see to it that your offspring shall sit on your throne.” David said, “Wonderful. That means my son Solomon will succeed to my throne.”

David would have been quite content with that, because God told him that He would bless Solomon. If Solomon departed from Him, He would chasten Him, but He would never leave him, and He would never forsake him. David would have been quite content to say, “Amen, thank You God,” but God said, “Wait, David. I'm not through yet.” Notice II Samuel, chapter 7, verse 16, and you will find the final thing, the ultimate thing that He said that made it the everlasting covenant, the sure mercies of David. Notice verse 16:

II Samuel 7

16And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.

“David, not only will Solomon sit on your throne, but I am going to see to it that your throne will always be, and when everything is wound up, the real Son of David will sit on the throne.”

The only way you can understand the Bible, as we have pointed out to you before, is to compare Scripture with Scripture, so I ask you to turn to Psalm 89, which is one of many passages of Scripture which describe the sure mercies of David and guarantees to David and to us that David's greater Son—Solomon was his son, but he had a greater Son—would sit on the throne. In Psalm 89, we are told of David's greater Son. We don't have time to read the entire Psalm, but it begins by telling us what it is all about. David said:

Psalm 89

1I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to [through] all generations.

From the time that David's throne became empty, historically speaking, the mercies of God were still operating and David's throne was preserved and God ordained that the greater Son of David will sit on that throne.

Down in verse 19, he describes it:

Psalm 89

19Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people.
20I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him:
21With whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him.
22The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him.
23And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him.
24But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him: and in my name shall his horn be exalted.
25I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers.
26He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.

Notice carefully as we continue to read, because we are going through a transition. We are going to stop thinking about one man and begin to think about another. We have been thinking about David, but now we are going to think about David's greater Son. Notice verse 27:

Psalm 89

27Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.

This doesn't mean, “I will make David My firstborn.” It means, “I will make Him Who is My firstborn higher than the kings of the earth.” Do I need to suggest to you Who the firstborn of David is? Do I need to suggest to you Who the firstborn of God is? He is the only begotten Son of God. Look at verse 28:

Psalm 89

28My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him.
29His seed [David's seed] also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.
30If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments;
31If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments;
32Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes [that is what has been happening to them all down through the years] .
33[Notice] Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.
34[Notice] My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.
35Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David.
36His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me.
37It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.

Lest there be any question about my suggestion to the sure mercies of David, I would like for you to turn in your Bibles to the book of Acts, chapter 13, and let the Apostle Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tell us exactly what we have been reading about in these Old Testament passages.

Peter is speaking to Israel about the matter of disallowing the plan and the purpose of God, and he recorded the story as far as Israel's history is concerned. In verse 21, we take up the reading of the history with that period of time that ended with the judges and the desire of Israel for a king. We read:

Acts 13

21And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.
22And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.
23Of this man's seed hath God [this is the Apostle Peter speaking] according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:

Skip down to verse 32, where we read:

Acts 13

32And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,
33God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.
34And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, [Notice] I will give you the sure mercies of David.
35Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
36For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:
37But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.
38Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man [Jesus] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:

Go back to the book of Isaiah, chapter 55, and you will understand why the invitation to the feast is based upon the covenant that is known as the sure mercies of David , for the covenant that God made with David was, “David, I am going to send to this earth one of your descendants, according to the flesh, and He will sit on your throne. He will do for Me all of the things that you have wanted to do and can't do.”

Glance at Isaiah, chapter 55, and notice verse 4, speaking not of David but of the Lord Jesus Christ, where we read:

Isaiah 55

4Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.

Everyone of these words—witness, commander, leader —describe the Lord Jesus Christ and are titles which are ascribed to Him in the New Testament, which you could readily see if you took the time to trace them through the Word. Notice verse 5, where now He is addressing the nation of Israel. He is saying to the nation of Israel:

Isaiah 55

5Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee [Israel] .

He is saying, “There is a day coming when your eyes will be opened and you will recognize Jesus Christ the Son of God, and you will acknowledge Him as your Messiah, and God will pour out such a tremendous blessing upon you that all of the nations of the world will come to you and say, “We want what you have.”

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is on the main line at the present time, had that kind of testimony? Wouldn't it be wonderful if our testimony was such that people would come to us and say, “We want what you have.”? It doesn't happen very often. It happens very, very seldom.

Another Invitation

In verse 6, the invitation goes out again for men to be converted. The table is set, but men don't naturally come to the table. The invitation has gone out, but men don't naturally respond, so we find, in verse 6, the words:

Isaiah 55

6Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
7Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

That is the reason we have used the term conversion . People have to change their way of thinking if they come to God. They have to change their way of thinking. That is the reason God said, “My thoughts aren't your thoughts. My ways aren't your ways. My thoughts are as different from yours as the heavens are higher than the earth.” That is the reason that unless the Spirit of God awakens the heart of man to the truth of the Gospel, the whole thing is ridiculous to him. The whole thing is foolishness. That is the reason God reminded us that it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save the world. He wasn't talking about a man getting behind the pulpit and ranting and raving and calling it preaching and people being saved by it. He didn't say that it was the foolishness of preachers that saved the world. It is in spite of the foolishness of preachers.

Somebody said that the reason they knew this Book was true was that it had survived so much poor preaching. There is a lot to that. It is not the foolishness of preachers; it is the foolishness of the message that God is pleased to save the world. It is foolishness to say to a man, “Come on and eat, and it is not going to cost you a thing in the world, and there are no obligations whatsoever.” He said to Israel, “Seek while there is still time. Call while He is still near, while there is still an opportunity.” It would behoove every man to pay attention to that invitation.

“Let the wicked man forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts.” Do you have to stop being bad and start being good before God will save you? No, it isn't that, but unless you change your course, you're not headed in the right direction. Unless you change your course and go back where the table is, you will not find the abundant pardon which God has given.

The Certainty of the Blessing

Our time is gone, but I want you to indulge me for just a few minutes as we look at the certainty of the blessing. Thank God for the certainty. It is suggested by what you find in the fourth stanza of the poem, which begins with the word for . This word for is a very interesting Hebrew word. It comes from a little Hebrew word that isn't suggesting a reason for something, but it is suggesting the certainty of something. For example, if you turn over a few pages to Isaiah, chapter 63, verse 16, you will notice this very same word that is translated for in Isaiah, chapter 55, is translated in Isaiah, chapter 63, by the word doubtless . In Isaiah, chapter 63, verse 16, we read:

Isaiah 63

16Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting.

“Without a doubt, LORD, we belong to You.” Remember how Moses was afraid to go down into Egypt and face his brethren and say that God had led him to lead them out of Egypt? Moses said, “God, will You go with me?” Remember what God answered in verse 12, of Exodus, chapter 3? God said, “Certainly, I will go with you.” That word certainly is a translation of this little Hebrew word that is translated for in Isaiah, chapter 55, verse 10, where we read:

Isaiah 55

10For as [certainly as] the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Do you believe that the rain and the snow takes care of the ground so that the seed will bring forth and produce to certainty? It is a certainty, and just as certain is it that God's Word will accomplish its purpose.

I don't want you to miss something here. You might if I don't call it particularly to your attention. If you miss everything else that I say and get this, it will be important. That rain, that snow that takes care of the ground provides seed for a twofold purpose. The seed is the Word of God. Remember that. It provides not only seed to sow, but bread to eat.

May I remind you that all too many of us look to the Word of God to get the seed to sow. We are so busy sowing. We are so busy sowing the seed that we don't look to the Word of God to get the bread to eat. There are a lot of weak sowers of the seed. There are a lot of God's children faithful in sowing the seed, but they never take any time to eat any of the bread themselves, and they are empty seed sowers, and they hardly have strength to get the job done.

Remember, God intended the Word not only to be sown, He intended it to be eaten as well. Examine your lives and see if perhaps you are doing too much sowing and not enough eating or, on the other hand, are you doing too much eating and not enough sowing.

Our Certain, Ultimate End

The happy experience is described in the lovely words of verses 12-13. This isn't the same word. Notice:

Isaiah 55

12For 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.
13Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

You recognize those words as being the language that describes that perfect day which is going to come upon the earth when all will be well, when all of the thorns and the thistles will be gone, when sin and sickness will be no more, when the presence of God will be for an everlasting sign that will never cease to be. This is our goal. This is our ultimate end, and it is as certain as certain can be. I hope that you will be able to share in it.


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