Isaiah 55

Buy Without Money

1-5 “Hey there! All who are thirsty,
    come to the water!
Are you penniless?
    Come anyway—buy and eat!
Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk.
    Buy without money—everything’s free!
Why do you spend your money on junk food,
    your hard-earned cash on cotton candy?
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.
I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you,
    the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring love.
I set him up as a witness to the nations,
    made him a prince and leader of the nations,
And now I’m doing it to you:
    You’ll summon nations you’ve never heard of,
and nations who’ve never heard of you
    will come running to you
Because of me, your God,
    because The Holy of Israel has honored you.”

Seek God while he’s here to be found,
    pray to him while he’s close at hand.
Let the wicked abandon their way of life
    and the evil their way of thinking.
Let them come back to God, who is merciful,
    come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness.

“I don’t think the way you think.
    The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
        God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
    so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
    and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
    and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
    producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
    not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
    they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.

“So you’ll go out in joy,
    you’ll be led into a whole and complete life.
The mountains and hills will lead the parade,
    bursting with song.
All the trees of the forest will join the procession,
    exuberant with applause.
No more thistles, but giant sequoias,
    no more thornbushes, but stately pines—
Monuments to me, to God,
    living and lasting evidence of God.”

Read More of Isaiah 55

Isaiah 56

Messages of Hope

Salvation Is Just Around the Corner

God’s Message:

“Guard my common good:
    Do what’s right and do it in the right way,
For salvation is just around the corner,
    my setting-things-right is about to go into action.
How blessed are you who enter into these things,
    you men and women who embrace them,
Who keep Sabbath and don’t defile it,
    who watch your step and don’t do anything evil!
Make sure no outsider who now follows God
    ever has occasion to say, ‘God put me in second-class.
    I don’t really belong.’
And make sure no physically mutilated person
    is ever made to think, ‘I’m damaged goods.
    I don’t really belong.’”

For God says:

“To the mutilated who keep my Sabbaths
    and choose what delights me
    and keep a firm grip on my covenant,
I’ll provide them an honored place
    in my family and within my city,
    even more honored than that of sons and daughters.
I’ll confer permanent honors on them
    that will never be revoked.

“And as for the outsiders who now follow me,
    working for me, loving my name,
    and wanting to be my servants—
All who keep Sabbath and don’t defile it,
    holding fast to my covenant—
I’ll bring them to my holy mountain
    and give them joy in my house of prayer.
They’ll be welcome to worship the same as the ‘insiders,’
    to bring burnt offerings and sacrifices to my altar.
Oh yes, my house of worship
    will be known as a house of prayer for all people.”
The Decree of the Master, God himself,
    who gathers in the exiles of Israel:
“I will gather others also,
    gather them in with those already gathered.”

A call to the savage beasts: Come on the run.
    Come, devour, beast barbarians!
For Israel’s watchmen are blind, the whole lot of them.
    They have no idea what’s going on.
They’re dogs without sense enough to bark,
    lazy dogs, dreaming in the sun—
But hungry dogs, they do know how to eat,
    voracious dogs, with never enough.
And these are Israel’s shepherds!
    They know nothing, understand nothing.
They all look after themselves,
    grabbing whatever’s not nailed down.
“Come,” they say, “let’s have a party.
    Let’s go out and get drunk!”
And tomorrow, more of the same:
    “Let’s live it up!”

Read More of Isaiah 56

Isaiah 57:1-13

Never Tired of Trying New Religions

1-2 Meanwhile, right-living people die
    and no one gives them a thought.
God-fearing people are carted off
    and no one even notices.
The right-living people are out of their misery,
    they’re finally at rest.
They lived well and with dignity
    and now they’re finally at peace.

“But you, children of a witch, come here!
    Sons of a slut, daughters of a whore.
What business do you have taunting,
    sneering, and sticking out your tongue?
Do you have any idea what wretches you’ve turned out to be?
    A race of rebels, a generation of liars.
You satisfy your lust any place you find some shade
    and fornicate at whim.
You kill your children at any convenient spot—
    any cave or crevasse will do.
You take stones from the creek
    and set up your sex-and-religion shrines.
You’ve chosen your fate.
    Your worship will be your doom.
You’ve climbed a high mountain
    to practice your foul sex-and-death religion.
Behind closed doors
    you assemble your precious gods and goddesses.
Deserting me, you’ve gone all out, stripped down
    and made your bed your place of worship.
You’ve climbed into bed with the ‘sacred’ whores
    and loved every minute of it,
    adoring every curve of their naked bodies.
You anoint your king-god with ointments
    and lavish perfumes on yourselves.
You send scouts to search out the latest in religion,
    send them all the way to hell and back.
You wear yourselves out trying the new and the different,
    and never see what a waste it all is.
You’ve always found strength for the latest fad,
    never got tired of trying new religions.

“Who talked you into the pursuit of this nonsense,
    leaving me high and dry,
    forgetting you ever knew me?
Because I don’t yell and make a scene
    do you think I don’t exist?
I’ll go over, detail by detail, all your ‘righteous’ attempts at religion,
    and expose the absurdity of it all.
Go ahead, cry for help to your collection of no-gods:
    A good wind will blow them away.
    They’re smoke, nothing but smoke.

“But anyone who runs to me for help
    will inherit the land,
    will end up owning my holy mountain!”

Read More of Isaiah 57