God Calls Us All

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‘So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.’ – Isaiah 55:11 (ESV)

Isaiah 55 begins with human need and desire. The thirsty, the hungry, the poor, the dissatisfied are all called to find life in God. ‘Incline your ear,’ says God, ‘listen’ (v. 3). And what do they hear? A promise to a broken-hearted people in exile, a promise of an everlasting covenant, of glory instead of shame (vv. 3-5).

Then a second group of people are called, the wicked and the unrighteous (v. 7). God is near, and if they will call upon him and turn, God will pardon them. Who is this LORD that has mercy, and abundantly pardons the wicked?

In a sense, we cannot know this LORD, because his ways and his thoughts are much, much higher than ours (vv. 8-9). But when he speaks, we can hear his voice and come to him. We see here that God is sovereign, he calls out to us – we could not know him at all otherwise. But we also see the need for human response. Will we come to him, listen to him, seek him, turn to him?

I believe that God calls us all, but so few seem to respond. What then are we to make of the claim in verses 10-11 that God’s Word never returns to him empty? I think the answer is that verses 10-11 refer to a specific word, God’s covenant with David (v. 3) recorded in 2 Samuel 7:1-17. It is this word that the people of God are in danger of forgetting. The poor and downtrodden who have lost hope of restoration AND the wicked who are selfishly exploiting others, both need to be called back to God and to faith in his promises.

For Christians, God’s promise to David was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the son of David who inherits an eternal throne (2 Sam 7:13; Luke 1:32-33). Yet Isaiah’s appeal still offers life to us, whether we need to renew our hope and faith for restoration, or whether we need to repent of our wickedness and unrighteousness (or maybe both!). We are all called to “come”, to listen that we might live, and to put our trust in God’s unfailing word – fulfilled and revealed most fully in Jesus, the son of David, our everlasting king.

Holy One of Israel, LORD our God,
We hear you calling, help us to listen.
Your ways and thoughts are high above ours
Yet you call us to respond to your word.
May we know again your forgiveness and mercy;
May we know afresh what it is to be satisfied and delighted in you;
And may we grasp again the hope that is ours in Jesus Christ, our king,
In whose name we pray,




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