Major Prophets – Isaiah 55-57

“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.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful love promised to David.
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
    a ruler and commander of the peoples.
Surely you will summon nations you know not,
    and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has endowed you with splendor.”
Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
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,
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.
You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever.”

  • Isaiah 55:1-13

This is what the Lord says:
“Maintain justice
    and do what is right,
for my salvation is close at hand
    and my righteousness will soon be revealed.
Blessed is the one who does this—
    the person who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it,
    and keeps their hands from doing any evil.”
Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say,
    “The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.”
And let no eunuch complain,
    “I am only a dry tree.”
For this is what the Lord says:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
    who choose what pleases me
    and hold fast to my covenant—
to them I will give within my temple and its walls
    a memorial and a name
    better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
    that will endure forever.
And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord
    to minister to him,
to love the name of the Lord,
    and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
    and who hold fast to my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain
    and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
    a house of prayer for all nations.”
The Sovereign Lord declares—
    he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
“I will gather still others to them
    besides those already gathered.”
Come, all you beasts of the field,
    come and devour, all you beasts of the forest!
Israel’s watchmen are blind,
    they all lack knowledge;
they are all mute dogs,
    they cannot bark;
they lie around and dream,
    they love to sleep.
They are dogs with mighty appetites;
    they never have enough.
They are shepherds who lack understanding;
    they all turn to their own way,
    they seek their own gain.
“Come,” each one cries, “let me get wine!
    Let us drink our fill of beer!
And tomorrow will be like today,
    or even far better.”

  • Isaiah 56:1-12

The righteous perish,
    and no one takes it to heart;
the devout are taken away,
    and no one understands
that the righteous are taken away
    to be spared from evil.
Those who walk uprightly
    enter into peace;
    they find rest as they lie in death.
“But you—come here, you children of a sorceress,
    you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes!
Who are you mocking?
    At whom do you sneer
    and stick out your tongue?
Are you not a brood of rebels,
    the offspring of liars?
You burn with lust among the oaks
    and under every spreading tree;
you sacrifice your children in the ravines
    and under the overhanging crags.
The idols among the smooth stones of the ravines are your portion;
    indeed, they are your lot.
Yes, to them you have poured out drink offerings
    and offered grain offerings.
    In view of all this, should I relent?
You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill;
    there you went up to offer your sacrifices.
Behind your doors and your doorposts
    you have put your pagan symbols.
Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed,
    you climbed into it and opened it wide;
you made a pact with those whose beds you love,
    and you looked with lust on their naked bodies.
You went to Molek with olive oil
    and increased your perfumes.
You sent your ambassadors far away;
    you descended to the very realm of the dead!
You wearied yourself by such going about,
    but you would not say, ‘It is hopeless.’
You found renewal of your strength,
    and so you did not faint.
“Whom have you so dreaded and feared
    that you have not been true to me,
and have neither remembered me
    nor taken this to heart?
Is it not because I have long been silent
    that you do not fear me?
I will expose your righteousness and your works,
    and they will not benefit you.
When you cry out for help,
    let your collection of idols save you!
The wind will carry all of them off,
    a mere breath will blow them away.
But whoever takes refuge in me
    will inherit the land
    and possess my holy mountain.”
And it will be said:
“Build up, build up, prepare the road!
    Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.”
For this is what the high and exalted One says—
    he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
    but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.
I will not accuse them forever,
    nor will I always be angry,
for then they would faint away because of me—
    the very people I have created.
I was enraged by their sinful greed;
    I punished them, and hid my face in anger,
    yet they kept on in their willful ways.
I have seen their ways, but I will heal them;
    I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners,
    creating praise on their lips.
Peace, peace, to those far and near,”
    says the Lord. “And I will heal them.”
But the wicked are like the tossing sea,
    which cannot rest,
    whose waves cast up mire and mud.
“There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

  • Isaiah 57:1-21

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

Isaiah 49:1-57:21 ‘Suffering of the Servant of the Lord’: “This section defines the Messiah/Servant’s prophetic and priestly functions, His equipment for His task, His sufferings and humiliation, and His final exaltation. The word servant occurs about twenty times in this portion, which magnifies Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God who was slain to redeem God’s elect.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 55:1 ‘come whether rich or poor’: “People must not worry because they do not have great possessions. Having nothing, people may yet possess all things. People are at no disadvantage in God’s market because their pockets are empty. They may come penniless and bankrupt and receive the exceeding riches of his grace. But the main reference in this verse is a spiritual one, and so the portrait here is that of people who have no spiritual money, no gold of goodness, no silver of sanctity. They are still invited to come and buy the wine and milk of heaven from a gracious God.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Isaiah 55:3 ‘everlasting covenant.’: “The New Covenant that God will give to Israel (54:8; 61:8; Jer. 31:31-34; 32:40; 50:5; Ezek. 16:60; 37:26; Heb. 13:20). sure mercies of David. The Davidic covenant promised David that his seed would be ruler over Israel in an everlasting kingdom (2 Sam. 7:8, 16; Ps. 89:27- 29). Paul connected the resurrection of Christ with this promise (Acts 13:34), since it was an essential event in fulfilling this promise. If He had not fully satisfied God by His atoning death, He would not have risen; if He had not risen from the dead, He could not eventually sit on David’s earthly throne. But He did rise and will fulfill the kingly role (v. 4). Cf. Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23, 24; 37:24, 25; Daniel 9:25; Hosea 3:5; Micah 5:2. The whole world will come to Him as the great King (v. 5).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 55:10-11 ‘rain … snow … My word.’: “Moisture from heaven invariably accomplishes its intended purpose in helping meet human physical needs. The word of God will likewise produce its intended results in fulfilling God’s spiritual purposes, especially the establishment of the Davidic kingdom on earth (vv. 1-5).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 55:13 ‘Instead of the thorn … to be revealed.’: “In the Davidic kingdom, positive changes in nature, including the reverse of the curse (Gen. 3:17), will be an ongoing testimony to the Lord’s redemption of His people (44:23; Rom. 8:19-23).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 56:1-8 ‘Millennial Salvation’: “At the time the kingdom is set up, some Gentiles may feel that because Israel is given an exalted position, the Gentiles will be excluded from receiving the benefits of millennial temple worship (verses 1-3). But this will not be the case, for the temple ministry will be open to all Gentiles who are rightly related to the King. Under no circumstances will they be excluded because they are Gentiles or because they are mutilated (verses 4-5). It is then and only then that the house of God will truly be a house of prayer for all nations (verses 6-7)—-at the time if Israel’s final regathering (verse 8).”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Isaiah 56:4,6 ‘keeping the covenant’: “It was generally supposed by the Jews that no one except the descendants oi Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob could be in covenant relationship with God. But Scripture denies this, as does this verse in Isaiah. Certain poor mutilated people were despised by some because of their disabilities, yet they were to be  encouraged to keep the Lord’s Sabbaths, to choose the things that pleased him, and to take hold of his covenant. Then there were the foreigners, and the Lord said he would accept them into his covenant. It was thus clearly revealed that persons who appeared to be shut out from the covenant because they were not of the seed of Abraham were to be encouraged to obey the commands of God and especially to obey his ordinance concerning the keeping of the Sabbath—which separated  his people from the rest of humanity—and to take hold of his covenant.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Isaiah 56:9-11 ‘beasts … watchmen … shepherds’: “These titles identify the wicked; other prophets also refer to Israel’s enemies as beasts (Jer. 12:9; Ezek. 34:5, 8). Prophets, who should have been watchmen and should have warned Israel to repent, ignored their responsibility (cf. Ezek. 3:17). Priests also failed to lead Israel in paths of righteousness (Ezek. 34:1—6; Zech. 11:15-17).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 57:3 ‘sorceress … adulterer … harlot’: “Sorcery and adultery were figurative designations for idolatry. God summoned the wicked to give an account.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 57:9 ‘went to the king’: “An example of this was Ahaz, who called on the king of Assyria for help and spared no expense in copying the idolatry of Assyria (2 Kin. 16:7-18).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 57:12-13 ‘I will declare your righteousness’: “God will break His silence by elaborating on Israel’s sham righteousness, a sarcastic way of saying they have no real righteousness. The folly of such devotion to non-existent gods will show up when judgment comes and all of them are blown away, while the worshipers of the true God enjoy the blessings of the kingdom. See Psalm 37:11; Matthew 5:5.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 57:15 ‘thoughts are important’: “I have been thinking recently about how important my thoughts are. I don’t have to do wrong to get under blistering conviction and repent. I can lose the fellowship of God and sense of His presence and a sense of spirituality by just thinking wrong. God has been saying to me, ‘l dwell in your thoughts. Make your thoughts a sanctuary in which l can dwell. See to it.’ You can’t do anything with your heart—that is too deep—-but you can control your thoughts. …
“Your theology is your foundation. The superstructure is your spiritual experience built on that foundation. But the high bell towers where the carillons are—those are your thoughts. And if you keep those thoughts pure the chimes can be heard ringing out ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ on the morning air.
“Make your thoughts a sanctuary God can inhabit, and don’t let any of the rest of your life dishonor God. See to it that not a foot of ground is unholy. See to it that every hour and every place is given over to God, and you will worship Him and He will accept it.”

  • A. W. Tozer, Tozer on Worship and Entertainment

Isaiah 57:19 ‘fruit of the lips’: “According to Hebrews 13:15, this phrase refers to praising and thanking God. Cf. Hosea 14:2. In this context, it is the voice crying ‘peace, peace’ in a call to people far and near to come to the Lord and receive spiritual healing.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Isaiah 57:20-21 ‘peace and rest’: “Among the greatest privileges for believers in Christ are those choice blessings of rest and peace. Those who believe in Christ Jesus receive eternal life, and they know that their sins are pardoned, that they are children of God, that omnipotence will preserve them even to the end, and that in the future they will be with Christ where he is forever—not only to behold but also to   share his glory. Consequently, not only to behold but also to their hearts are at rest, for they leave all that concerns them—whether in the present or the future—in the hands of their heavenly Father, casting all their cares on him who cares for them. Therefore, they have peace, perfect peace, in their souls. This peace and rest believers enjoy here and now will deepen and increase until, in eternity, they will reach their perfection as the children of God. They will forever be without even the slightest disturbance of heart and will rest in the presence of God as full of joy as can possibly be. These choice privileges of rest and peace belong, however, exclusively to believers. ‘The wicked’ have no claim on them. They are, according to Scripture, like the restless sea that is never really quiet, even in its greatest calm—and it is never to be trusted for a resting place. Such is the condition of the unregenerate heart of the unrepentant sinner.

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes


My Thoughts

Isaiah 55 starts with an offer to the thirsty to drink wine and milk, and at no cost, no money needed, but Isaiah 56 ends with the watchmen of Israel being drunk on wine and beer, easily overcome and blind.

In Isaiah 55, God is calling Israel, or the righteous among them, to a renewed covenant, to follow along with the covenant with David.  David was told that if his family kept God’s commandments, they would reign forever.  Of course, the covenant is made complete with Jesus as the descendant of David who kept God’s commandments.

But here in Isaiah 55, God begs the people to seek God while He is near, which indicates that God will turn His back on them once they push Him too far.  As God tells Jeremiah, Jeremiah was not to pray for the people for God to give Mercy, for God was not listening.  But Isaiah lived only a few generations earlier.

Isaiah 55 ends with thorns turning into myrtle, and indication that when the End Times are complete, restoration of nature will occur.

In Isaiah 56, it starts with God speaking of the foreigner and the eunuch in service in Judah.  They, if they keep the Sabbath, will not be forgotten.  This flies in the face of the Jews who claimed to be sons of Abraham as if that was a birthright to the kingdom, but here God is condemning them for their worship of false gods and praising the foreigner who worships faithfully.

And as I mentioned in the first paragraph, God calls upon the beasts of the forest because Israel’s watchmen are blind and drunk and easily overcome.

In Isaiah 57, God speaks of the righteous being taken away.  And those that remain will try to renew their strength for their false gods.  God taunts them to let their idols save them, but those who find refuge in the Lord will be saved and will possess God’s Holy mountain.

Then Isaiah 57 ends with words of comfort for the contrite.

But the chapter ends as did Isaiah 48:22, that there is no peace for the wicked, declares the Lord.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

“Isaiah 55: 1. How does the question in verse 2 strike you? What things have you spent your money or labor on that have ultimately proven to be unfulfilling?
“2. How does God’s word taste to you: (a) Awful, but good for you, like medicine? (b) Too watered down, like soggy cereal? (c) Too out-dated, like stale bread? (d) Very rich, like gourmet food?
“3. How does Isaiah’s invitation relate to Jesus’ words in John 6:35? What does it mean to ‘teed’ upon Jesus? This past week, would you say you have been living on spiritual junk food, or God’s meat and potatoes? Why?
“4. In light of verses 6-7, would you say you have been seeking the Lord or hiding from him this week? Why?
“5. Joy and peace are the fruit God’s word produces (vv.11-12). At what stage of development is this fruit in your life: Buried seed? Just starting to sprout? Ripening fruit? In need of weeding? How might you be ‘fertilized’ by the commands in verses 1-3 and 6-7?
“6. What is the most impressive range of mountains you have ever seen? How do you imagine they would sound if suddenly they burst into song: Like rock? Opera? Choral? How would you feel as you realized they were singing for joy over what God has done in and for you? What does that imply about your importance to God?”
56: 1. How do the attitudes and actions of verses 1-8 apply to us today? Why are these so crucial to God?
“2. How might you pursue justice and love this week in your family? Your work place? In an area of social concern?
“3. Would you describe your church as a gathering place for sinners, or a fortress to protect those ‘inside’ from those ‘outside?’ Why?
“4. Try seeing your church services from the viewpoint of someone from a totally different background. What ‘inside’ practices or beliefs might prevent outsiders from regarding it as a place for them to meet God? What might you do to help change this? What ‘outsider’ will you befriend this week?
57:1-13, God’s Accusation Against the Wicked 1. From your nation’s history, what leaders can you think of who seemed to be more concerned with their own status than with fulfilling their responsibilities to the people? What are some of the effects that had upon the nation as a whole? How can you best help your nation’s ‘watchmen’ to stay ‘awake’?
“2. In the positions of leadership you hold (at home, work, school, in the community or church), how have you felt the temptation to pursue your own goals regardless of the effects it has on others?
“3. Are you spiritually awake, or asleep, to the subtle invasions of the world? How so?
“4. How are people today still ‘burning with lust’ and ‘sacrificing their children’ (v.5)? How are they ‘sending ambassadors far away’ (v.9)? And ‘wearied with all their ways’ (57:10)?
“5. Why do they not say, ‘It is hopeless’? In what things do they ‘find renewal of their strength’? In your experience, which have appealed to you? Which have tailed to help you when you really needed help? In contrast, how do these very things end up separating us from the help God gives?
“6. Accordingly, how would you explain to someone what it means to take refuge in God? What pressures are directing you that way now?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

Isaiah 55 and Isaiah 56 each have one set of questions.  Isaiah 57 has two sets of questions as described above.

Substitute whatever group for any reference to a small group or ask who could come to your aid.

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


Add yours →

  1. Thanks for sharing this idea.Anita

    Liked by 1 person

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