Messiah, like the waters of the heavens, comes and does not return (precipitation) until He has accomplished His purpose of satisfying the spiritual thirst of those who live on earth and seeding in them the fruit of redemption. Through His death and resurrection He offers water (The Holy Spirit) to the thirsty soil of the human soul.
Isa 55:1 “Hoy Oiy, alas, wow, woe, relief, exhale, an invitation to kol-tzamei everyone who thirsts, lechu (from halak walk) walk toward la’mayim to the waters; ve’asher and the one eiyn-lo kasef without money, lechu walk toward, shivru purchase ve’echolu and eat! lechu walk toward, shivru purchase belo-kesef without money uvelo and without mechiyr hire, yayiyn wine ve’chalav and milk.
The previous chapter ended with the certain promise of God to Israel, that “no weapon formed against” her would prosper. As the prophet indicated, there would be weapons formed against her but they would not be of God but of the enemies of God and of Israel His people. Thus, the present chapter begins with an exclamation of warning mixed with relief. The Hebrew “Hoy” is difficult to translate. The sense is that of woe mixed with an exhaling and causative awe: an invitation. It is as if HaShem were saying, “It’s true that weapons will be formed against you by other nations and peoples, and after all those weapons have been defeated, ‘Hoy’, relax and pay careful, even woeful attention: because once these things have passed God will offer His waters to all, both to you and to the repentant among your former enemies…”
“kol-tzamei everyone who thirsts,” This is obviously addressed to everyone in both Israel and among the nations who thirst. The thirst is clearly spiritual (Isa. 41:17; 44:3; Psalm 42:1-2; 63:1) and can only be satiated by the spiritual waters that come from God.
Iben Ezra sees the “water” as being a metaphor for the Torah (Instruction, Law). This is consistent with the idea that the living Word of God, the King Messiah (John 1; 4:14; 7:37), offers water that will satisfy the human soul for all eternity.
“Yeshua replied to her, ‘Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never be thirsty. The water that I give him will become a fountain of water within him, springing up to eternal life!’” -Yochanan (John) 4:13-14 (TLV)
The Jewish commentator Kimchi says, “after the war of Gog and Magog (an eschatological battle at the end of the age), the nations shall know that the Lord reigns, and shall come and be desirous of learning his judgments and laws.”
The Targum also understands “waters” as a metaphor for the doctrines (Law) of God:
“Ho, every one that is willing to learn, let him come and learn, and he that hath no silver, come, hear and learn; come, hear and learn, without price and money, doctrine that is better than wine and milk.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
“lechu (from halak walk) walk toward la’mayim to the waters” The standard translation “Come to the waters” falls short of conveying the greater meaning of the Hebrew text. The Hebrew reads “lechu” lit. “He walks”, from the root “Halak” meaning “To walk”. Therefore, the waters must be walked toward in repentance. These waters are offered to all but are not received by all, rather, they are received by all who come in repentance. Halakhah is the way we walk, it is more than coming, it is coming in humility and repentance.
Notice that the Hebrew “mayim” is intense, plural, “waters”. It is not “water” but “waters” that are being offered. God’s Word (alluded to later in the chapter in relation to the waters of the heavens) is perpetual, intense, everlasting, and the waters of verse one are a metaphor for God’s Word, essence (D’var).
“And the one without money, lechu walk toward, shivru purchase ve’echolu and eat!” Again, this is a metaphor regarding spiritual food.
“Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, eat what you find—eat this scroll. Then go, speak to the house of Israel.’” -Ezekiel 3:1 (TLV)
Produce from the earth is sold by human beings to one another but the produce of the heavens cannot be bought and sold. The food that is purchased without money is the food of the heavens, the sustenance of the everlasting soul of humanity that comes from God and can be received from no other source. We notice that this must be “walked toward”: it is not forced on anyone. Those who refuse freely offered food will starve according to their own decision. God doesn’t send fallen angels or people to the lake of fire (Rev.19:20; 20:10-15), to the contrary, they choose to go by refusing God’s present, redeeming, loving action.
“lechu walk toward, shivru purchase belo-kesef without money uvelo and without mechiyr hire, yayiyn wine ve’chalav and milk.” The wine and milk are also metaphors for the Torah (Instruction, Law). In fact, the waters, food (bread), wine and milk to which the prophet refers are all aspects of God’s Word (D’var, essence).
Water is essential to life. Without water life as we know it cannot exist. Likewise, food sustains life, bread is the fuel of a healthy existence (according to an ancient middle eastern diet and not the modern forms of grain which contain modified gluten). Wine is both a comfort in sorrow and a delight in our celebrations. It was often used medicinally in the ancient middle east and is a constant reminder of the need for blood atonement. Finally, milk is essential to early childhood development. In the case of a mother’s milk the nutrients and enzymes present offer strengthened immunity to the new-born and sustain the baby’s growth to a point where the child can consume and digest solid foods. Each of these symbols conveys an aspect of God’s written (Ketuviym: Scriptures) and living Word (D’var: essence, Yeshua: John 1) at work in the lives of those who believe and receive Him in repentance.
The living waters of God are offered freely and received in repentance and humility. No matter how wealthy a person becomes in this world, a human being cannot buy the everlasting waters of God. This living water has been purchased for humanity by God’s Servant Redeemer, it cannot be earned, it can only be received in humility and repentance.
“For the payment for sin is death; but the gift of God is everlasting life through Yeshua the Messiah our Lord.” -Rav shaul’s letter to the Roman believers 6:23
Isa 55:2 Lamah Why tishkelu-kesef do you weigh out (spend) your money belo-lechem for that which is not bread, viygiyachem and your labour (toil, working) belo lesave’ah for that which does not satisfy (fill you up)? Shimu shamoa Listen, hear, understand with diligence (pay careful attention) eilay to Me, ve’ichlu-tov and you eat what is good, vetit’anag and delight badeshen nafshechem your souls in fatness (rich food, fertility, blessing).
“Wherefore do ye weigh out your silver for that which is not food? and your wealth for that which satisfies not? Hearken diligently to my Word, and ye shall eat that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.”-Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
It is interesting to note that the Targum equates the “Word” to “God.”
“Why do you weigh out (spend) your money for that which is not bread, and your labour (toil, working) for that which does not satisfy (fill you up)?”
If the former verse uses metaphor to convey spiritual truth then so does the present verse. The money spent by the hungry is the wealth they have earned from their temporal labour. They spend it on “that which is not bread”, bread being the metaphor for the Word of Hashem (Both written and living). Therefore, “That which is not bread,” is an allusion to the idolatry of Israel and of all humanity.
“He afflicted you and let you hunger, then He fed you manna—which neither you nor your fathers had known—in order to make you understand that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of Adonai.” -Devarim (Deuteronomy) 8:3 (TLV)
It is God Who allowed Israel’s hunger as a result of her sin. Israel continued to purchase false spiritual food from other gods and as a result her spiritual hunger was not satisfied. She was constantly tormented in body, mind and spirit because the spiritual food she received from false gods did not satisfy her need. In fact, the spiritual food purchased from false gods did harm to Israel’s body (collective and individual) because it is the spiritual equivalent of junk food. Israel, like all the nations of the world, hungered for right relationship with God her Creator but foolishly sought to satisfy that hunger with the temporal junk food of false gods.
We note that the waters of God are offered freely but the worthless food of false gods (Satanic forces) costs dearly. The waters of God give life and sustain it, whereas the food of false gods harm the body and soul and bring death. Therefore, the incredulous question “Why do you weigh out (spend) your money for that which is not bread…” is more than justified in the mouth of God’s prophet.
“Shimu shamoa Listen, hear, understand with diligence (pay careful attention) eilay to Me, ve’ichlu-tov and you eat what is good, vetit’anag and delight badeshen nafshechem your souls in fatness (rich food, fertility, blessing).”
The Hebrew “Shimu shamoa” translates as “Listen, listen carefully”. God demands Israel’s attention, indeed, He demands that all humanity pay attention to His Word. The inference is, “Stop listening to those who do not satisfy your hunger for truth…”
“Eat what is good…” In other words, “Stop eating the damaging food of false gods and start eating My Word.”
Yeshua challenged Israel (ethnic, religious) to see the manna of her desert wanderings as a figure for His body, life, spirituality, and to feed on Him through His sacrificial atoning death and resurrection. He identified Himself as the “the true bread that comes down from heaven”. His teaching, His life, His example, His offer of redemption, is all symbolised by the bread that comes from heaven. This is what the prophet Isaiah is referring to when He writes on HaShem’s instruction, “Eat what is good”. Elsewhere Yeshua says, “Why do you call me good, only God is good” (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19). He says this in order to reveal to the one who called Him good, that He is Imanu (with us) El (God). In other words, “You are right to call Me good, Only God is good”.
“Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘Out of heaven He gave them bread to eat.’” 32 Yeshua answered them, “Amen, amen I tell you, it isn’t Moses who has given you bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the One coming down from heaven and giving life to the world.” 34 So they said to Him, “Sir, give us this bread from now on!” 35 Yeshua said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty. 36 But I told you that you have seen Me, yet you do not believe. 37 Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and anyone coming to Me I will never reject. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do My own will but the will of the One who sent Me.” - John 6:31-38 (TLV)
“Delight your souls in fatness (rich food, fertility, blessing).” The modern reader could be confused by the use of the word “fatness”, after all, in our society an over indulgence in “fat” is frowned upon: it is a cause of obesity and its related health concerns. However, there are two things to consider: first, fat is not the problem, excessive consumption (the sin of gluttony) is. Second, the ancient Israeli diet consisted mainly of grains, vegetables, milk, the occasional meat or fish (usually on festive occasions or once a week at Shabbat dinner), and received the majority of its fat from olive oil with the obvious exception of the lamb and beef consumed on a less regular basis to modern western practice. To the ancient Jew “fat” meant abundance, blessing, fertility, true wealth, strength, security, satisfaction, and joy. This is what God is offering, only He is offering the spiritual equivalent to the temporal earthly metaphor. This is in fact a picture of the Olam Haba (World to come), where the righteous will “feast” with God and His King Messiah.
“On this mountain, Adonai-Tzva’ot
will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples--
a banquet of aged wine--
of rich food, of choice marrow, of aged wine well refined.” -Isaiah 25:6 (TLV)
“I will fill the soul of the kohanim with fatness
and My people will be satisfied with My goodness.”
It is a declaration of Adonai.” -Jeremiah 31:13 (14) (TLV)
“Then the angel tells me, ‘Write: How fortunate are those who have been invited to the wedding banquet of the Lamb!’ He also tells me, ‘These are the true words of God.’” -Revelation 19:9 (TLV)
“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” -Psalm 36:7-9 (ESV)
Isa 55:3 Hatu Incline (stretch out) azenechem your ear, ulechu and walk toward Me; Shimu hear, listen, understand utechiy nafshechem and your soul will live; ve’echretah and I will cut (make) lechem with you beriyt a covenant (cutting) olam everlasting, perpetual, chasdiy my love, loving actions, for David hane’emaniym are faithfulness, certain, steadfast, sure, supportive.
“Incline your ear and receive instruction of my law, obey my Word and your soul shall be quickened, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the mercies of David, which are sure.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
“Incline (stretch out) your ear, ulechu and walk toward Me; Shimu hear, listen, understand utechiy nafshechem and your soul will live…”
In order for Israel and indeed all humanity to receive the waters (Word of God, Yeshua) from the heavens and live (eternally), they must have ears to hear, listen, understand. From the Hebrew we could translate, “Walk your ears toward me with your ear canal tilted to receive what I have to say…” Only the willing, repentant, teachable person is able to receive the water from the heavens and live.
“‘And your soul shall live.’ That is, your soul shall live for ever after the death of the body, or you will receive new life through Messiah, when you will return to the Divine Law (Torah).” -Iben Ezra
“Ve’echretah and I will cut (make) lechem with you beriyt a covenant (cutting) olam everlasting, perpetual, chasdiy my love, loving actions, for David hane’emaniym are faithfulness, certain, steadfast, sure, supportive.”
This everlasting covenant is intrinsically connected to the line of David and is made complete in keeping with the promises God has made to David.
“So your house and your kingship will be secure forever before you; your throne will be established forever.” -2 Samuel 7:16 (TLV)
“And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.” Ezekiel 34:23 (ESV)
“I will maintain My love for him forever,
and My covenant with him will be firm.” -Psalm 89:29 (TLV)
“But they shall serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.” -Jeremiah 30:9 (ESV)
“It is also possible, that by David in this verse Messiah is meant, who will be of the family of David. As the prophet is sometimes called Israel for the same reason (49:3); and the meaning of ‘hane’emaniym chasdiy Daveed’ is in that case: for the kindness of Messiah is sure. This explaination is supported by the next verse.” -Iben Ezra
This covenant which is connected to the covenant of peace of Isaiah 54:10 and is clearly a reference to the work of the Servant Redeemer, the King Messiah Yeshua. The covenant concerning the mercies toward David cannot be a reference to David himself, who died centuries before this prophecy was first spoken, rather it refers to the Messiah Who is the greater son of David and the One through Whom God carries out His redemptive purposes for Israel and the nations.
It is also clear from the previous verses that this everlasting covenant is the fruit of the Word Who came like waters from the heavens to bring life to humanity and to all creation which had been held hostage to the drought caused by sin.
“And we proclaim to you Good News—the promise to the fathers has arrived! 33 For God has fulfilled this promise to the children—to us—by raising up Yeshua, as it is also written in the second psalm:
‘You are My Son.
Today I have become Your Father.’
34 “But since He raised Him up from the dead, never to return to decay, He has spoken in this way, ‘I will give you the holy and sure mercies of David.’ 35 Therefore He also says in another psalm, ‘You will not permit Your Holy One to see decay.’ 36 For after David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he went to sleep and was laid with his fathers and saw decay. 37 But the One whom God raised up did not see decay.
38 “Therefore, let it be known to you, brothers, that through this One is proclaimed to you the removal of sins, including all those from which you could not be set right by the Torah of Moses. 39 Through this One everyone who keeps trusting is made righteous.” -Acts 13:32-38 (TLV)
Isa 55:4 Hein Behold, Now, Pay attention, eid lumiym (from am tribe, people) He is a witness to the tribes (peoples), netatiyn I have given Him nagid as a ruler (leader) umetzaveih and commander leumiym for the tribes (peoples).
“He is leader of the tribes, I have given Him as a ruler and commander over the tribes.”
As Iben Ezra rightly notes, the nearest subject is David or rather, the Messiah as the greater son of David, for David, now dead cannot be the future ruler over the tribes. Thus, it is the Servant King Messiah Who is being referred to here.
The Jewish commentators Iben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melekh all interpret this verse as referring to the Messiah.
The use of the Hebrew “umiym” tribes is important. To the modern English reader the translation “peoples”, while technically correct, is none the less misleading. The better translation is “tribes”. Israel is a “goy” nation made up of “umiym” tribes (peoples). The modern English reader misunderstands the word “peoples” to refer to all the peoples of the earth, however, in this context it does not. The following verse affirms this by speaking of a “goy” nation that will run to the individual in the present verse who is a witness to the tribes of Israel and in fact is born of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical).
It is here that Isaiah joins the two images of the Servant into one. By comparing Isaiah 11:10 we see that the Servant (King Messiah) is first a sign to the amiym tribes of Israel and as a result becomes a sign to the goyim nations.
“And in that day there shall be a root of Yishay which shall stand for a nes miracle (sign) of amiym the tribes: toward Him the goyim nations shall seek: and His rest shall be glorious.” -Isaiah 11:10
When combining the message of these verses it is clear that by amyim (tribes, peoples) Israel as a corporate entity is meant, and when the term goy is used in the next verse it refers to a nation other than Israel.
Isa 55:5 Hein Behold, Now, Pay attention, goy a nation lo-teida not known to you tikra you will call, ve’goy and a nation lo-yedaucha you didn’t know eilecha in your direction yarutzu will run lema’an because of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) Eloheycha your God, ve’likdush Ysirael and of the Holy One of Israel, for He has glorified you.
This second “Hein” draws attention to a new related subject. These words are spoken to the individual of the former verse (The Servant King Messiah Yeshua), and to Israel, who through her greater son the King Messiah, has made it possible for those who would believe among the nations to enter God’s kingdom through the redemptive and vicarious sacrifice and resurrection of His Son the Messiah Yeshua.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-- 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” -John 10:14-16 (NIV)
Notice that it is “because of Hashem” that the “nation” made up of peoples (amiym) from among the nations (goyim) will come to Israel’s God. Thus, Israel is glorified because of the work of the Servant King Messiah, performed by her God, the Holy One of Israel.
This verse offers hope to those among the nations who receive Messiah while also warning those who refuse God’s continued purposes for the Jewish people.
“For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me. You made my enemies turn their backs to me, and those who hated me I destroyed. They cried for help, but there was none to save; they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them. I beat them fine as dust before the wind; I cast them out like the mire of the streets. You delivered me from strife with the people; you made me the head of the nations; people whom I had not known served me. As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me; foreigners came cringing to me. Foreigners lost heart and came trembling out of their fortresses. The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation—” Psalm 18:39-46 (ESV)
Isa 55:6 “Diroshu Seek with care, enquire of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) behimatzeo while He may be found, encountered, learned from; kera’uhu call upon Him bihyoto in His becoming (while He is) karov near;
Historically this warning relates to God’s presence manifest among the people of Israel and to the coming Babylonian exile and subsequent return. God will not allow death to continue on the earth indefinitely. Therefore, Israel has a limited time to seek and find Him, as do all who live on the earth.
“Seek ye the fear of the Lord whilst ye are alive, supplicate before His presence whilst ye remain.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.C.)
The Targum rightly understands this verse as referring to the time frame of a person’s life. In other words, a person may seek out the free gift of God’s redemptive action as long as that person lives in this sin affected world. There is no opportunity for salvation after death for, “It is appointed unto each human being to die once (in finality), and then the judgement.” (Heb. 9:27).
The Jewish commentator Kimchi compares the present verse with Eccl. 9:10:
“God is certainly everywhere at all times… but the meaning of this phrase is, while the decree is not yet resolved upon: in a similar way the phrase, while He is near is to be explained, namely, while He permits His glory to rest upon the Temple.” -Iben Ezra
We must remember that at the time of this prophecy Israel (Judah) was yet to be taken into Babylonian captivity.
Everyone, the Jew first and also the nations, must receive the saving work of the Messiah and walk in, learn from Him.
“For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:” -Psalm 95:7-8 (KJV)
Isaiah speaks of the “Acceptable year of our Lord”, and Luke quotes the same phrase from Isaiah 61:2 (Luke 4:19). That “Acceptable year” remains in time and space through the redemptive work of the Messiah and until the return of the Messiah. However, those who refuse God’s offer of acceptance and wilfully resist Him until the “Acceptable year” reaches its goal, will find themselves refusing Him on their way into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15).
Isa 55:7 Ya’azo rasa darco Let the wicked forsake his way, veiysh and the man aven of idolatrous machshevotav thoughts, plans, inventions; veyashov and return to Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), viyrachameihu and He will have compassion (love deeply, show mercy to) on him, ve’el-Eloheiynu and to our God, kiy-yarbeh lisloach for He will greatly pardon, forgive.
“Let the wicked forsake his way of wickedness, and the man of violence his thoughts, and let him return to the worship of the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and into the fear of our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
We note that the “wickedness” of humanity is related to the “idolatrous thoughts” of humanity. In fact, idolatry is the root of all sin. Yaakov the brother of Yeshua puts it this way:
“But each one is tempted when he is dragged away and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is full grown, it brings forth death.” -Yaakov (James) 1:14-15 (TLV)
“Return to HaShem (Mercy), and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will greatly pardon.” As is constantly the case, God opens His arms wide to receive the returning one. Yeshua’s mashal (parable) of the returning son is one of the best examples of How great the compassion of God is toward all who would humbly return to Him (Luke 15:11-32).
We can see that the “way” of the wicked and the “thoughts” of the wicked are intrinsically linked, distinct and inseparable. When we walk in God’s grace our actions are the fruit of thoughts that echo that grace, however, when we despise and spurn God’s love our actions are the fruit of our own fallen thoughts.
Isa 55:8 Kiy lo machshevotay For my thoughts, plans, inventions, are not machshevoteiychem your thoughts, plans, inventions; velo darcheiychem neither are your ways derachay My ways, neum declares Hashem (YHVH: Mercy).
This verse beautifully juxtaposes God’s thoughts and actions against the thoughts and actions of fallen (sin affected) humanity.
“The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” -Genesis 6:5 (NIV)
“The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
When the Hebrew text speaks of machashebet “thought, invention, purpose,” it is speaking of that which comes from the core being “lev” heart. The Hebrew lev (heart) is the point at which all other aspects of human existence converge. Therefore, “thought” in this context applies to the will and in particular to the sin affected will which in Hebrew is known as yetzer ha-ra (the inclination toward evil).
It is impossible for we as human beings to fully fathom the thoughts and actions of God except by the revelation of God’s Spirit and only to the extent which God allows us to understand Him from our point of view within time and space (sin affected). Thus, God has revealed Himself through His Word (D’var), both written (Scripture) and living (Messiah).
Having said this, the present verse is not only a statement of fact it is also an invitation to the sin affected human being to receive the thoughts and ways of God as far as they are available to each person through Messiah. This happens when we forsake our idolatrous thoughts and their related actions and instead turn to Mercy Himself in order to receive His Spirit, Who in turn through right thinking, births right action in us. One practical outworking of this is seen in the diligent, Holy Spirit filled study of His Word (Scripture).
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Messiah loved the church and gave Himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to Himself as a radiant community of faith, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” -Ephesians 5:25-27
“I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice—holy, acceptable to God—which is your spiritual service. 2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” -Romans 12:1-2 (TLV)
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Messiah Yeshua:” -Philippians 2:5
Isa 55:9 Kiy gavehu shamayim For as the heavens are higher (exalted) meiaretz than (from) the earth, kein gavehu derachay so are My ways higher (exalted) midarcheiychem than (from) your ways umachshevotay and My thoughts, plans, inventions machshevoteiychem than (from) your thoughts, plans, inventions.
“Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
8 They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do?
They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know?
9 Their measure is longer than the earth
and wider than the sea.” -Job 11:7-9 (NIV)
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.” -Psalm 103:11 (NASB)
One of the reasons God’s thoughts and plans are beyond human understanding is that His thoughts and actions are intrinsically connected to His lovingkindness, where His nature is selfless love, human nature exhibits selfish desire.
“God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent;
Has He said, and will He not do it?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” -Numbers 23:19 (NASB)
One of the reasons God’s ways are beyond human understanding is that He is unable to lie. We as human beings on the other hand are inclined to lie when it suits our purposes.
“Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,
Or as His counsellor has informed Him?
With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding?
And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge
And informed Him of the way of understanding?” -Isaiah 40:13-14 (NASB)
These rhetorical questions from earlier in the scroll of Isaiah illuminate the irony in humanity’s pretentious claims to deity. At the heart of the matter we find that it is the nature of God that sets Him apart in every way. Therefore, His thoughts, inventions, purposes, and His actions, paths, and ways are higher. He offers to impart His nature to us through His Messiah and by His Spirit but first we must acknowledge that His thoughts and ways are beyond our understanding.
The Nature of God
1. Self-Existing (uncreated, eternal)
2. Self-sufficient (Reliant on nothing)
3. Spirit (Unseen)
4. Love (God defines love)
5. Immutable (unchanging)
6. Omniscient (All knowing)
7. Omnipotent (All powerful)
8. Omnipresent (All present)
9. Truth (He cannot lie)
10. Sovereign (He Rules over all things)
11. Holy (There is none like Him)
In Messiah we are filled with His Spirit and reflect His nature but devoid of Messiah human beings are unable to truly comprehend or reflect His nature. Of course aspects of His nature are seen even in fallen humanity because of the common grace that allows us to seek Him in our sinful state. However, this common grace has a set limit, following which only those who have received God’s saving grace will enjoy an eternity of dwelling within the manifest presence of His good nature.
Isa 55:10 “Kiy ka’asher yeireid For as the coming down of hageshem the rain vehasheleg and the snow min-hashamayim from the heavens ve’shamah and there lo yashuv do not return kiy until they hirvah satiate, satisfy the thirst of et-haaretz the earth (land), veholiydah and it brings forth vehitzmiychah and sprouts, venatan and gives zera seed lazoreia to the sower velechem and bread laocheil to the eater,
“He sends forth His word and melts them;
He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow.
19 He declares His words to Jacob,
His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any nation;
And as for His ordinances, they have not known them.
Praise the Lord!” - Psalm 147:18-20 (NASB)
In beautiful poetic form the psalmist connects the flowing waters to the words and instructions of God to Jacob (Israel). The Word of the Lord being Messiah Yeshua (John 1), Who has come from the heavens:
“No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. 14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” -John 3:13-15 (NASB)
Messiah, like the waters of the heavens, comes and does not return (precipitation) until He has accomplished His purpose of satisfying the spiritual thirst of those who live on earth and seeding in them the fruit of redemption. Through His death and resurrection He offers water (The Holy Spirit) to the thirsty soil of the human soul.
“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Yeshua stood up and cried out loudly, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture says, ‘out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now He said this about the Ruach, whom those who trusted in Him were going to receive; for the Ruach was not yet given, since Yeshua was not yet glorified.” -John 7:37-39 (TLV)
A careful reading of John 4:5-38 shows a correlation between the words of Isaiah 55 and the complete dialogue Yeshua engaged in with the Samaritan woman and the disciples and people of the village of Sychar (Shechem).
“Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” -Hosea 6:3 (ESV)
Isa 55:11 Kein yihyeh So will it come to pass that Devariy My Word asher yeitzei which goes out mipiy from My mouth; lo-yashuv will not return eiliy to Me reiykam void, empty, vainly, kiy for im-asah rather, it will accomplish, make, fashion (asah, from something) that which chafatztiy I delight in, desire, am pleased with, take pleasure in, vehitzliyach and will rush, advance, prosper, succeed in asher that for which shelachtiyv I sent it.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword—piercing right through to a separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” -Hebrews 4:12 (TLV)
In one sense the word is that of the Torah, prophets and writings, and as Yeshua says “Amen, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or serif shall ever pass away from the Torah until all things come to pass.” (Matthew 5:18) Ultimately however, Messiah is the Word that goes out from the mouth of God (John 1:11-18). He comes to water the spiritual desert of Israel’s soul, and in turn the spiritual thirst of humanity. Due to the sinful practices of Israel God would withdraw His Word from her “for a brief moment”.
“Behold, days are coming”
—declares my Lord Adonai--
“when I will send a famine on the land
—not a famine of bread
nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of Adonai.” -Amos 8:11 (TLV)
However, as we came to understand from the previous chapter, He will not leave her forsaken:
“For a brief moment I deserted you,
but I will regather you with great compassion.” -Isaiah 54:7 (TLV)
Thus, the living Word of God Yeshua the King Messiah will accomplish, make, fashion that which God delights in, desires, and is pleased with, and takes pleasure in, that is the redemption of the repentant: He will rush, advance, prosper, succeed in that for which God sent Him. He will not return to God void but will return having seeded a harvest of everlasting fruit.
In hindsight we see that this is exactly what Yeshua has done and like the precipitating rains of the heavens He has returned to the heavens and has rained down the Spirit of the Father and the Son on all who have received Him.
Isa 55:12 “Kiy vesimchah For in joy (gladness) tetzeiu you will go out uveshalom and in peace, wholeness, well-being tuvalun be led forth; hehariym the mountains vehagevaot and the hills yiftzechu will break out, burst forth lifneiychem before your faces rinah in a shrill ringing cry, vechol-atzeiy and all the trees hasadeih of the field yimchau-chaf will clap their hands.
First this is a description of Israel’s return from exile in Babylon (Ezra 1:3), and further still, from every exile subsequent to that. Second, it is a description of the spread of the Gospel of the Messiah from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth and then back to Jerusalem to await His return.
The exultant creation described here shows the prophet’s view of an intrinsic connection between the restoration of Israel and humanity, and the restoration of the created order.
“For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” -Romans 8:19-21 (TLV)
Isa 55:13 Tachat Instead of hana’atzitz the thorn-bush ya’aleh verush a cypress will come up; vetachat and instead of hasirpad the brier (desert nettle) ya’aleh hadas the myrtle will come up; vehayah and it will come to pass la’YHVH to HaShem (Mercy), leshem for a name leot for a miraculous sign olam everlasting lo never yikareit cut off.”
“Instead of the wicked the righteous shall rise up, and instead of sinners shall rise up those that fear sin: and it shall be before the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign, that shall not cease.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E.)
The Targum rightly understands the thorn-bush and brier to represent the wicked and sinners, and the cypress and myrtle to represent the righteous and those who fear God.
The plants chosen to reflect the incredible transformation that will take place in the return of Israel both to the land and to the Lord through Messiah, have an important symbolic meaning.
The thorn-bush and the brier are symbols of satanic barbs (2 Corinthians 12:6-8), death, drought, and fruitlessness. They are good only for throwing on the fire. This brings to mind the warning spoken to Israel by Yochanan the Immerser:
“The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” -Matthew 3:10 (NIV)
Likewise Yeshua warned:
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” -Matthew 7:15-20 (NIV)
The good news is that in the day of Israel’s corporate spiritual redemption (Romans 11:25), cypress and myrtle will be found in place of thorn-bushes and briers. This is a picture of spiritual transformation.
In ancient Israel the cypress (being an evergreen) represented healing, uprightness, eternal life. It is a long living tree that is able to endure harsh climates and poor soil. Biblically trees are used as symbols of kingdoms and in particular the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 17:22-24) sees David’s Messianic dynasty symbolised in a cedar tree that the nations (birds) will shelter in. We see this same imagery used in Yeshua’s mashal (parable) where He makes a drash on Ezekiel’s prophecy concerning the kingdom of God (Mark 4:30-32). There is an obvious correlation to the present passage.
The myrtle is a slow growing fragrant tree with a beautiful white blossom. It is a deciduous shrub, always green (though not an evergreen), and has a strong root system. Even when it is cut to a stump, it’s roots cause it to sprout again. There are many parallels to be drawn with the journey of Israel (ethnic, religious) and the walk of a Messiah follower. Israel in her redeemed and transformed state will be always green, fragrant with the sweet salvation of the Gospel, rooted deeply on the mountain of the Lord and flowering with the majesty of God.
This portion of Isaiah leaves us with a hopeful picture of the future restored remnant of Israel and those nations who will come to her in Messiah to be joined with her in the worship of Hashem the God of Israel. Just as the many miracles performed by God on Israel’s behalf became signs to the nations, so too this great miracle of redemption and restoration will be a sign. One that will never be cut off. This of course is an allusion to the redemptive act of Messiah and the resulting spiritual transformation of Israel (ethnic, religious) in the last days following the fullness of the nations (Romans 11:25).
© 2019 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.