Studies in Isaiah 55: 6. The Accomplishing Word
Isa 55:8,9 my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
The Ongoing Flow: The initial call in this chapter was, “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.” This, we said, was a call that was opened up to, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near,” because, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.” i.e. come and seek me out, listen to what I have to say, because my ways are so different from yours that if you want to prosper you need to change. This is His word and what He further has to say is, to state the obvious, His word. Now He wants us to realize something very important about what He has to say.
A Weather & Nature Analogy: He presents us with a picture and we should see that this picture conveys truths that are important: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater…” (v.10) Such an obvious picture, one with which we would all be familiar. It rains (or snows). We see it fall. It comes from above and it will not go back up but will achieve something when it hits the ground. It waters the earth, it provides that which is needed to make plants grow. But watch the order – and it is slow – as the water is absorbed by the plant it strengthens and then buds and blossom is formed and fruit follows. In respect of the crops it makes them grow and produce the seed which in turn is turned into bread which in turn provides us with sustenance. It all happens because the rain falls. No rain = drought. Drought means plants die. Dead plants mean no provision for mankind. That is how important this water is.
The Analogy Applied: “Come to the waters.” (the rain that falls). Come and receive God’s word, because, this we will shortly see, is what the analogy is all about. The water is God’s word. See the analogy: it comes down from above, from God in heaven. It comes to the earth where we live. As we absorb it and take it in, it makes us grow, it strengthens us, we flourish and bear fruit and bless the world with God’s provision. Such a simple and obvious picture but how many of us, I wonder, absorb God’s word on a daily basis and allow it to change us?
God’s Declaration: So the Lord applies this analogy: “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (v.11) Now note the key points here. It is God’s word that comes directly from Him. The unbelieving world in their folly may not realise that but you and I should. Moreover when God speaks, He speaks with a purpose so that what He says WILL come about. We see it from the very beginning: “God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (Gen 1:3) Sometimes when it requires our response, it is conditional upon that response but other times, as here, it is a declaration of intent and that intent is in respect of what He is about to do, and that we’ll see in the following verses in the next study.
God’s Purposes: We need to go back over some well-trod ground. The apostle Paul wrote about God’s word, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16,17) This Bible (as it has now become, then only what we call the Old Testament in the forming), he says, is inspired because it is ‘God-breathed’ or ‘breathed out by God’ as one modern version says. i.e. as God breathed out His Holy Spirit in the lives of the forty-plus writers, they were inspired to write. But the point he goes on to make is that God’s word does stuff, it speaks to people, challenges them and changes them – teaching rebuking, correcting, training – so they become more fruitful – “for re-setting the direction of a man’s life and training him in good living,” as the JBP version puts it.
To put it another way, God speaks to get us back on the right tracks. After the Fall we were doing our own thing and that meant getting off the tracks of God’s will, God’s design, and that meant self-harm and harm to others, as well as offending and grieving God Himself. That’s what God’s word is all about, that’s why we read it, not just to find out what God has done, but also why He has done it. That latter thing, the ‘why’ of God’s purposes, is to restore us to Himself. Our Sin alienated us from Him but now, we are “reconciled to him through the death of his Son,” (Rom 5:10) but the reality is that we can drift away which is why Paul appealed to the Corinthians, “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor 5:20)
Always Hope: Yet although we have to face this negative trend – our ability to get it wrong and drift away from God – the Lord Himself is always working to bring us back, to draw us back to Himself, so back in verse 3 we saw, “I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David,” which was a restatement of what He had declared to David. The Living Bible puts it well: “I am ready to make an everlasting covenant with you, to give you all the unfailing mercies and love that I had for King David. He proved my power by conquering foreign nations. You also will command the nations, and they will come running to obey, not because of your own power or virtue, but because I, the Lord your God, have glorified you.” The Lord always reaches out a hand of love and grace for whoever will take it, but of course the truth is that not everyone does. Yet that is what we find here in this chapter, yes, a likely continuation of the thoughts of chapter 54, that although Israel were down, the Lord was reaching out to them, calling them to listen to Him, to take His hand and be restored to something glorious as He offered in verse 3 and which we will see in a different way in verses 12 and 13 to come.