Isaiah 55:6-13

Sunday Morning Bible Study

May 28, 2000


We’ve seen now a picture of a Suffering Messiah, one who would die for the sins of His people (Isa. 53). We’ve seen a picture of how this Messiah would affect His people, taking them from a place of shame, desolation, and rejection, and make them prosperous and beautiful (Isa. 54). When we started Isaiah 55, we saw God’s invitation to this abundant life, that it’s free. Now we get a little more specific as to what is require of us to walk in this love that God has for us.

:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found,

seekdarash – to resort to, seek with care, enquire; (Qal).

When can God be found?

De 4:29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find [him], if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.

God can be found if you seek Him.

In other words, if you’re still alive on planet earth, God can be found, so you should seek Him.

The Targum (Aramaic translation of O.T.) has here,

"seek the fear of the Lord, while ye are alive."

The Bible says,

Ec 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do [it] with thy might; for [there is] no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

In other words, when you’re dead, it’s too late.

:6 call ye upon him while he is near:

callqara’ – to call, call out, cry out, call for. This is a word used to describe prayer. The idea is to "pray to God while He is near enough to hear you".

When is God near?

(Psa 145:18 NASB) The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.

Again, if you’re still alive and breathing on planet earth, God is near to you and you should be calling on Him.

David wrote,

(Psa 139:7-10 KJV) Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? {8} If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. {9} If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; {10} Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

You may be wondering where God has gone. You may feel as if He’s far, far away. He’s not. He’s near you. Call on Him.

But what about the times when I’ve thought that God wasn’t near?

The truth is that He’s always been near. But sometimes He seems far because our hearts have become callused and we have trouble feeling that He’s near.

(Heb 3:12-14 KJV) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. {13} But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. {14} For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

This is the importance of fellowship. Our hearts can become callused through the deceitfulness of sin. That’s when God seems so far away.

Our encouraging each other helps to keep our hearts soft and open to the Lord.

These two phrases are both commands (imperatives), and form the basis of what is required to receive the things promised in verse 7 – mercy and pardon.

:7 Let the wicked forsake his way

wickedrasha‘– wicked, criminal; one guilty of crime; hostile to God; guilty of sin

Who is the "wicked" person?

We all are.

(Jer 17:9 KJV) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

forsake‘azab – to leave, forsake; (Qal) to leave; to depart from, leave behind, abandon

This verb is not a command (imperative), but is in the "imperfect" tense. This is important for two reasons:

First, it means that "forsaking" and "returning" define what "seeking" and "calling" are all about. What does it look like to "seek the Lord" and "call upon His name"? It looks like forsaking our sins and returning to the Lord.

Second, it means that this action is somehow "incomplete". We can never completely "forsake" our sins in this life because we still have a sin nature that loves to be tempted. We can never say, "I’ve arrived, I’ve completely forsaken all my wicked ways and will never ever be bothered by them again. It’s some we need to continually work on.

:7 and the unrighteous man his thoughts

God doesn’t just look at the outward person, He looks at the heart, the thoughts. God doesn’t want us to just forsake our bad deeds, but even our bad thoughts.


Take care of the root.

This was the problem that the Pharisees of Jesus’ day had. They were more concerned about what others saw in them than what God saw in them. Jesus said,

(Mat 23:25-26 NKJV) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. {26} "Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.


When it comes to weeding a garden, there are several ways to do it. You can do it the quick easy way and get a weed whacker and just chop off the tops of the weeds so you don’t see any more weeds. Or you can take a more difficult route and dig out the roots as well. If you just chop off the leaves, the weeds will grow back. If you dig out the roots, those particular weeds are gone for good.

Sometimes we are more concerned about taking care of the outward actions in our lives that cause us problems. God is concerned that we go to the root of the problem.

As an example, Jesus said,

(Mat 5:27-28 KJV) Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: {28} But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

If a man has been cheating on his wife, and then wants to "repent" and forsake his sin, then he ought to stop cheating and seeing this other woman. But Jesus wants him to go one step further. Jesus says that the "root" of the problem lies in the man’s lust that he has in his heart.

It’s not a sin to be tempted. It’s not a sin to find yourself attracted to another person. But it’s what you do with that thought that is important.

Is it okay to fantasize about that other person? Is it okay to allow a desire for that other person to stay in your heart? Do you give yourself permission to do these things?

Jesus wants us to deal with the "root" issues. It starts in our thoughts.

And even when we deal with the root issues, we’re still going to be tempted.

The verb "forsake" was an imperfect tense, meaning that it’s something we’re going to need to keep doing. You may have dealt with one root issue, but Satan will be sowing weed seeds into your mind continually. There will always be weeds.

:7 and let him return unto the LORD

returnshuwb – to return, turn back. This too is an "imperfect" tense. It’s an action that’s never fully complete.


Keep coming back.

You may have rededicated your life to the Lord a dozen times. There’s always room for one more time.

The enemy will tell you that you’ve done that one sin too many times. He’ll tell you that God could never forgive you one more time.

I think the only time that you’ve sinned once too often is the sin that you’ve done for which you refuse to come back to the Lord from.

:7 and he will have mercy upon him…he will abundantly pardon.

mercyracham – to love, love deeply, have mercy, be compassionate, have tender affection. This verb is in a form that means it’s "intense" (Piel), it’s "repeated" (Piel), and it’s never completed.

The idea is that God promises to give "intense" mercy, over and over again, and He is never finished with showing mercy to you. I like that.

will abundantlyrabah – (Hiphil) to multiply, to increase greatly or exceedingly

pardoncalach – to forgive, pardon


God wants to forgive you.

But you need to do your part.

Your part is to "seek", "call", "forsake", and "return". God’s part is to forgive.

The Bible says,

(1 John 1:9 KJV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The idea of "confessing" our sins is to admit that we’ve done wrong. It involves exactly these same things: seeking, calling, forsaking, returning.

If we confess our sins, God is faithful, we can count on Him to forgive us.

God is also "just" because He doesn’t let us off without the sins being paid for. God knows that you can’t pay for your sins, so He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on a cross and pay for the penalty for your sins.


One time the great evangelist D. L. Moody visited a prison called "The Tombs" to preach to the inmates. After he had finished speaking, Moody talked with a number of men in their cells. He asked each prisoner this question, "What brought you here?" Again and again he received replies like this: "I don’t deserve to be here." "I was framed." "I was falsely accused." "I was given an unfair trial." Not one inmate would admit he was guilty. Finally, Moody found a man with his face buried in his hands, weeping. "And what’s wrong, my friend?" he inquired. The prisoner responded, "My sins are more than I can bear." Relieved to find at least one man who would recognize his guilt and his need of forgiveness, the evangelist exclaimed, "Thank God for that!" Moody then had the joy of pointing him to a saving knowledge of Christ—a knowledge that released him from his shackles of sin.

God wants to forgive you.

(Psa 32:1-6 NIV) Of David. A maskil. Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. {2} Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. {3} When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. {4} For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah {5} Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"-- and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah {6} Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him.

God wants to forgive. We need to confess.

:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways…

thoughtsmachashabah – thought, device; plan, purpose; invention

waysderek – way, road, distance, journey, manner; path; direction; habit

This is referring to God’s abundant pardon, His wonderful mercy. He is not like us.

His thoughts aren’t like ours – We are quick to hold grudges against people.

His ways aren’t like ours – We are quick to take revenge against people.


Don’t base God’s forgiveness on what you think He ought to do.

You may think, "If I were God, I would never forgive a person like me". I’ve got good news for you. You’re not God.

When God described Himself to Moses, He said,

(Exo 34:6-7 KJV) And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, {7} Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

Yes, God will judge sin one day. But before He does, we will know that He is overflowing in mercy and patience.

We may look at the Israelites and see how God promised to judge them if they were disobedient. But keep in mind that He warned them (Lev. 26) around 1440 BC, and the final judgment (Jer. 39) didn’t come until 586 BC. That’s 854 years of patience!!!

You may have a problem with God forgiving you, but God doesn’t. Don’t let your own stubbornness keep you from receiving God’s mercy.

:11 … it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

voidreyqam – in vain, without effect, vainly

accomplish‘asah – to do, fashion, accomplish, make

pleasechaphets – to delight in, take pleasure in, desire, be pleased with

prospertsalach – (Hiphil); to make prosperous, bring to successful issue, cause to prosper

Ultimately, this refers to the restoration of the nation of Israel under the rule of the Messiah, Jesus. God has promised that it would happen, and it will, as seen in the next verse.

But I think this can also be a picture of what God’s Word can do in our own lives.

God’s Word produces a work in our lives.

(2 Tim 3:16-17 NLT) All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. {17} It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.

:12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills …

When Messiah comes back, the Jews will "go out" of the countries they’ve been living in, and they will be "led forth" by the Messiah.

joy – simchah – joy, mirth, gladness

peaceshalowm – completeness, soundness, welfare, peace

I am looking forward to the day when life will be totally characterized by joy and peace.

mountains … hills … trees – the Scripture often talks of creation itself being alive.

(Rom 8:19-22 NLT) For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. {20} Against its will, everything on earth was subjected to God's curse. {21} All creation anticipates the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay. {22} For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

(Luke 19:40 KJV) And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

:13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree …

firb@rowsh – cypress, fir, juniper, pine

When Messiah returns, there will no longer be any curse on earth, which includes thorns. Instead, the earth will be as the Garden of Eden.

:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The heavens are pretty high above the earth. Like infinitely higher than the earth.

God’s ways and thoughts are on a different level than ours. Light years away.


Don’t worry about trying to figure God out.

You won’t be able to.


On Wednesday night we were looking at the birth of Jesus and looking at how odd it must have seemed to the angels to watch the King of all Creation being born in a animal’s feeding trough because there wasn’t any room for them even in an inn. And after having been jostled for a seventy mile donkey ride from Nazareth to Bethlehem. And then being sent to declare this incredible birth, not to heads of state, but to lowly shepherds.

Does this make any sense?

It may not have made sense to Joseph and Mary, but for people like us, I’m certainly glad that from the very beginning, Jesus was accessible to common, lowly people, like me. I am sure glad that God cares for people like me.


Another interesting story in the Bible is that of Joseph. I’m sure that during Joseph’s life, he must have wondered what was going on when his brothers sold him into slavery, or when his master’s wife falsely accused him of trying to rape her, or even as he labored in prison, why it seemed that everybody forgot about him. Yet when we get to the end of the story, we see that Joseph had learned that God was working through his difficult circumstances. As Joseph was eventually elevated to being second in all Egypt, and then God used Joseph to end up rescuing his entire family from the destruction of a famine, he could say,

(Gen 50:20 KJV) But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

You too may have had some difficult things happen to you in your life, and you can’t figure out why God allowed them to happen.

Be careful about trying to figure them all out with your limited human understanding.

There is a place of rest we can get to when we get to the point where we can say, "You’re God, and You know what You’re doing."

Paul writes,

(Rom 12:1-2 KJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. {2} And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

When you give yourself completely to God and you don’t allow yourself to be shaped by the world, but you allow your mind to be renewed, you will begin to see that God’s will for your life is good, acceptable, and perfect.