Come, buy wine and Milk

by LA UBF   03/26/2005     0 reads


  Come, Buy Wine and Milk

Isaiah 55:1-13

Key Verse 55:1

1. In verses 1-3 the word "come" is repeated 5 times. What do the following expressions mean? 1) All you who are "thirsty"; 2) come to the "waters"; 3) buy "wine and milk"; and 4) "buy" without money and without cost?

2. Think about the question posed in verse 2a. What does it mean to: 1) "spend money on what is not bread"; and 2) "[spend] labor on what does not satisfy"? 

3. In verse 2b, the word "listen" is repeated twice. What is a "soul"? (3a) What does "the richest of fare" refer to? What does the expression, "your soul will delight in the richest of fare" indicate about the need a soul has?  

4. The words "me", "I", or "my" in verses 2 and 3 refer to the Lord God (1:18). What do the following expressions tell us about the way to accept what the Lord desires to offer? 1) "Listen, listen to me"; 2) "Give ear and come to me"; and 3) "Hear me". How will the Lord bless those who respond to his invitation? (4,5)

5. What do the following exhortations in verses 6 and 7 tell us about the struggles we need to make in fulfilling the desire the Lord has for us? 1) "Seek the Lord while he may be found"; 2) Call on him while he is near; 3) Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts; and 4) Let him turn to the Lord...and to our God..."

6. Compare verse 7 with verses 8 and 9.  Note such words as, "his way", "his thoughts", "my thoughts", "your thoughts", "your ways", or "my ways". In what respect is it difficult for the wicked to "forsake" his way or his thoughts and turn to the Lord? Yet, why should he do so? 

7. Read verses 10-13. What does this passage tell us about the work the word of the Lord fulfills? 




  Come, Buy Wine and Milk

Isaiah 55:1-13

Key Verse 55:1

"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."

A few days ago, for the first time in his life, a father heard his pregnant daughter say, "Oh, I feel like eating pizza." She used to say, "Oh, I feel like eating noodles," but she never felt like eating pizza. Maybe it was not his daughter, but the grand-daughter inside who wanted pizza. With joy this man took his daughter to an Italian restaurant called The Olive Garden in the Stonewood Shopping Mall. 

Today, our heavenly Father invites us not to an Italian restaurant but to his heavenly kitchen. In our heavenly Father's restaurant there are many wonderful chefs who have been professionally trained to cook only the best meals. And our heavenly Father has prepared fabulous menu items. Let us go to His restaurant and join in the heavenly feast the Lord has prepared for us.

First, what can we expect? (1-5)

Each time a missionary I know goes to a new restaurant, the first thing he does is carefully examine the menu. He examines every item. Then the next time he goes there, he does not have to read the menu again, for he has already memorized it. Most importantly, he knows exactly what he likes, and what he does not like. He also knows exactly what he would like to order the next time he goes there. When the father I mentioned earlier went to the Olive Garden, he did the same thing. In fact, he is familiar with a lot of Italian foods. For example, he likes Chicken Parmesan. 

What then can we expect to have at the heavenly restaurant? Verses 1-5 indicate that we can enjoy not only heavenly foods, but also something else such as romance, and much more. With this in mind, let us read vs. 1-5 responsively. 

(1) Waters: if you go to any restaurant, the first thing a waiter or waitress comes around and asks you is, "What kind of drink would you like?" Then you say, "Coke," "iced tea," or just "ice water." The same thing is true in the heavenly restaurant. So in v. 1, we see the Lord God saying, "Come to the waters"! In the Bible, the word "water" or "waters" refer to the Spirit of God. In the New Testament scriptures, Jesus calls this drink the living water which flows from within. John 7:38-39 are direct on this point: “‘Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” The drinks we get served at restaurants in this world make us thirsty again. But the drinks, the waters we get served at the heavenly restaurant are different; it deeply satisfies us. Once we drink this water, we will never get thirsty again. 

(2) Wine and milk: the next items on the menu are wine and milk. The Olive Garden offers a selection of wines. But the man I mentioned earlier could not see milk on the menu. But here we find not only wine but also milk. What does wine and milk stand for? We already know the answer. Wine stands for the joy that comes from the Spirit of God. Milk then means the word of God which is the staple for our soul. Personally, I do not dig physical wine that much. Of course every once in a while I do take a glass of wine. In the first place, my body cannot absorb alcohol that much, so that even a small amount of alcohol will make me intoxicated. But unlike physical wine, spiritual wine is different: it fills us with heavenly joy. This joy is never intoxicating. This joy is so supreme that on many occasions, because of this joy welling up within, you feel like dancing for no obvious reason! Of course, the living word of God which is spiritual milk nurtures our minds, souls, and spirits. Speaking of the life-giving effects of God’s word, Deuteronomy 8:3 says that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord! 

(3) The richest of fare: it has been said that all diseases are caused by three reasons. If you are sick, your sickness is either genetic, dietary, or spiritual. I do not know how true this statement is. But I realize with increasing clarity that human sicknesses have a lot to do with what you eat. You eat healthy foods, you stay healthy; you eat unhealthy foods, you become unhealthy. So, lately I have grown more apprehensive of the quality of the foods that I consume. For example, in the past I never paid attention to the nutrition facts on food labels. But nowadays I started paying some attention to them. If anyone says, "Find fast food that can help you reduce your risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease," I do not ignore him. After all who wants to die of heart disease, or suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes? 

But here is an astounding fact: while all peoples on earth start paying more attention to quality meals that will do well to their bodies, not all people pay attention to quality meals that will do well to their souls! This is a huge problem, because man is more a soul being than a physical being. Man is not just a chunk of meat, but a soul and a spirit! “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (or “soul” in the KJV)” (Genesis 2:7). In this way, the soul within you is the real you: your body is merely a housing! And there are so many soul foods that are harmful to the well being of a soul. Where then can we find quality foods that will do well to our soul? Isaiah answers the question in v. 2. “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 your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” Here “richest” means “the best.” “Fare” means foods for the soul. This food is cooked in the heavenly kitchen. In 1 Peter 2:11 the Apostle Peter says, “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” Yes. In worldly restaurants, people serve foods that feed man’s sinful nature, causing them to indulge in sinful desires which war against their souls. But in the heavenly restaurant, we can find the richest of fare - and our soul will delight in it. 

(4) Heavenly romance: a lot of people go to a restaurant not just for food but for an environment. This is true especially with women. Why then is the environment so important? The answer is obvious. So people can enjoy good fellowship. The man I mentioned earlier saw that this is true at the Olive Garden. The food was not that impressive, but the environment was done right. So while his company was waiting at the front door, he saw a lot of young couples standing in line. And he could see that a lot of them were on a date. And the ambience inside was designed in such a way as to promote romance. 

The Lord God understands that all of his children have desires for true romance. In fact, the Bible abounds with evidences that our heavenly Father is the true author of true romance, not dark romance, but the romance that is truly beautiful, truly uplifting, and truly life-giving. 

So guess what? In the heavenly restaurant, the Lord God has ready for his children a real surprise: the real opportunity to fall into true romance! Look at verse 3. “Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.” One of the difficulties to make a message out of Bible passages such as Isaiah 55 is that it is poetry. And Isaiah 55 is a beautiful poem which came out of the beautiful mind of the God of all beauty. Remembering that it is a beautiful poem composed in heaven with heavenly rhymes, let us recite verse 3 once again. “Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.” Four words here stand out: (1) the word “everlasting;” (2) the word "covenant;" (3) the word "faithful;" and (4) the word "love." Say, “love” – not any love, but true love, the love that is totally fulfilling! 

The word "everlasting" has to do with the "durability" of a relationship. The word "covenant" means "a relationship based on mutual commitment." The word "faithful" talks about the foundation of the relationship, the component that sustains it despite stresses. And love is what we choose to make within the relationship. These four words then talk about the most fundamental need we have as a soul being, that is, we need a lasting relationship where we can find true love that is truly fulfilling. 

Nowadays, one missionary I know is still trying to understand his wife. The couple has been married for 33 years. But he is still making new discoveries about her. And here is a new discovery, that is, the other day around 3 p.m., as he was hanging around in the living room nervously, she suddenly asked him to sit down on the couch and watch a movie. "A movie," he thought. Then, even before he asked her what kind of movie she was talking about, his daughter piped in saying, "Oh, no. Daddy won't like it." And guess what. The title of the movie was Little Women. It contains the stories of four daughters; it was all about their love stories, and for the most part, the stories had happy endings. And he discovered that in her high school days, his wife watched the movie and "loved" it. So, she rented it, and wanted to watch it together with her husband. Then the man sat down and watched the movie. And he liked it very much. 

But later he confessed that he was not moved by the movie. Why? It was just fiction. Plus, one of the daughters was played by Elizabeth Taylor. You know what happened to her marriage life. She fell in love with a man, got divorced, fell in love with another man, got divorced, and she did it again and again, not just once, twice, but more than 7 times. Personally, I really admire Liz Taylor, for she never gave up making efforts to find true love. The fact that she remarried that many times indicates that she desired to find true love, but was not satisfied, so she tried again and again. When you think about it, no one is truly perfect. Does that mean that we give up finding true love? No. Why not? In the first place, we are born to love. And our soul really looks for a true soul mate. Speaking of this inborn need for everlasting love, Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81) the prime minister during the Victorian age of Great Britain once said, "If it is not for love, why live?" 

Most of all, God understands the need for true love. Where then can we find this love? We can find this love here in God's heavenly court. "I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David!" This "faithful love" refers to Jesus Christ the heavenly Bridegroom! 

(5) The avenue to real glory: when you go to a worldly restaurant like the Olive Garden, you cannot expect to get that much out of the dining experience. Most likely by the time you get out of the restaurant, your wallet might be lighter than before, and you might have gained some more unnecessary pounds. But it is not so with a dining experience at the heavenly restaurant. We already saw tons of beautiful blessings that are offered there. But there is something more. What is it? Look at verses 4-5. “See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples. Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.” The Living Bible reads in this part, "He [David] 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." This passage testifies that as you come to the heavenly banquet, and get into a covenant relationship with the Lord, the Lord will exalt you to a position of true honor and true glory, not because of you but because of the Lord. 

Second, what preparations are necessary before we get there? (6-8)

In view of the glorious blessings that our Heavenly Father promises to those who accept his invitation, how should we get ourselves prepared for the occasion? In verses 6-8, we can say that three things are necessary.

(1) Start early: look at v. 6a. “Seek the LORD while he may be found.” This means that we must accept the offer quickly rather than belatedly, for the Lord may not keep this offer open indefinitely. 

(2) RSVP: look at v. 6b."Call on him while he is near." The expression "call on him while he is near," especially the word "call on him," means we need to make a phone call (i.e., prayer) to make a reservation in advance. This is like one paying the conference fee in advance and making all the arrangements necessary such as taking days off. It is like Mr. Christian who was “resolved” to leave the earthly city for the celestial city, and left for the heavenly city through the narrow gate.

(3) Code enforcement: Look at vs. 7-9. “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, 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.’ ” In down town LA there is a restaurant called The President’s Club. A dress code is enforced there so that even during lunch hours you are asked to be in a business suit. But the fellowship in the heavenly restaurant is far more prestigious than any club in this world. But what is required of us there is not wearing nice clothes, but wearing good, spiritual garments. What is also fabulous is that at the front gate of the heavenly banquet hall, heavenly suits are ready for all to use, and this court is called "the righteousness" made in heaven. In the parable of the new garment, we learned that Jesus represents the new garment for all of us to wear. 

Third, how will life be different? (10-13)

Verses 10-13 are an epilogue of the heavenly invitation. Mainly, this passage says that as we are done with the spiritual feasts in the heavenly court, we will be a new creation. With this in mind, let us read this passage. 

In conclusion, in a week the Spring Conference is coming where we can enjoy a spiritual feast  in heavenly fellowships for it is the Lord who is the real host of the occasion. May the Lord bless us to get ourselves prepared for the occasion as Isaiah says. At the same time, just as the Lord used Isaiah to invite thirsty souls, so also may the Lord bless us to invite many to this spiritual occasion. 

One word: Come!