The truths found in Isaiah 55 have been an important part of my faith journey especially as the magnificence of God is explained in the words about how high His thoughts and ways are and their availability to me. Verses 8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Sometimes we use these verses as an excuse for not straining to know His thoughts or discover His ways by simply conceding “His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways” when we do not understand His Word, when life does not make sense, or when we cannot find God in the midst of circumstances. By taking this approach we miss out on God thoughts! So let us examine some of Isaiah 55 to discover what God truly conveys when He says His thoughts and ways are not ours!
This chapter begins with “Ho” pronounced “Hoy” which is meant to catch the attention of everyone who thirsts and warns us not to gloss over what is going to be revealed but take it seriously. Verse 1 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts…” We should pause after these four words to make sure we fit the profile! Are we thirsty? We would do well to contemplate our degree of thirst often to determine that we have a “holy love thirsting” after God. We can discover what this thirst and affection for God looks like by reading Psalm 42:1-2. “…As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…” Does this describe our love relationship with God? Are we increasingly uncomfortable with the heat and dryness of unfulfilled desire for God, just as deer are naturally hot and dry as they pant for a waterhole? Deer will not let their desire for water be left unfulfilled but will seek until they find. Will we do the same with God?
Thirst always increases when we have gone without water for some time; our thirst for intimacy with God increases when we experience separation from Him and realize how much we want and need to be in His presence again. Thirst creates a memory of how remarkable it was to be saturated. When we commune with the living God, drinking of His deep love, it quickly becomes evident one sip does not satisfy. We realize the depth of our thirst when our souls are immersed in His presence. The insatiable desire to be satisfied again and again intensifies each time we commune with Jesus on earth because we come face to face with the thought of spending eternity with Him.
Thirst demands action! We cannot sit back and expect God to force us to drink from Him. He is the living water and is more than willing to wet our souls when we “go”. Jesus says in John 7:37 “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” When we say, “I’m thirsty Lord!” He replies, “Come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you— the sure mercies of David.” (Isaiah 55:1-3) These things are not difficult to do, in fact it is a privilege to go to the waters of life, buy from Him without money because there is no cost, listen and hear Him as we delight ourselves in Him, and incline our ears toward Him as we go, hear, and live! Wow! What a deal! Our part is so simple!
He literally states that when we go and hear Him, our minds, wills, and emotions (souls) will live! He declares that when we stop spending our time and money on things of this world which never satisfy and lean into Him, we will live and experience His mercy. This is great news! The problem is we often try to do both; spend our wages on unsatisfactory things and delight ourselves in God. We want God AND we want what we want! This scenario does not work because thirsty people will seek the Lord, forsake all else, and return to God without trying to live in both realms.
Though God is everywhere at all times there is an inference in Isaiah 55:6- 7 that if we want to receive all God has for us we must seek and call upon Him, both of which require effort. “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; And to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” There is no question we are told in Scripture we must search for God, seek Him out, inquire, ask, and cry out to Him. He tells us what to do but leaves the doing up to us. Seeking and calling upon the Lord creates and increases our desire for intimacy because we covet this love relationship!
Once we determine to seek and call upon the Lord we should note there is a timely manner in which to do so; while He can be found and is near. This makes it crystal clear there is a time coming when those who have chosen not to be in relationship with God will not be able to find Him. If this were not so, He would not have included this warning in Scripture. We have no time to waste, no time to sow our wild oats and then get around to believing Him later. Now is the time to turn away from our wicked ways and thoughts and turn to God going after Him! This is not a situation where we can simply “get around to it”! We must get thirsty now! We must seek Him now! We must call upon Him now! We must forsake our ways and thoughts now! We must return to the Lord now! As a result He will have mercy and pardon us from our sins now!
We do these things now because of our love and desire for God to receive all the honor and glory He deserves. Isaiah 55:5 says “Surely you shall call a nation you do not know, and nations who do not know you shall run to you, because of the LORD your God, and the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.” Everything that happens is because of God and His interests not our own! Our previous actions benefit us, but it is still all because of Jesus!
With this truth established we experience a transition in Isaiah 55:8-9 from us doing “our” part to a revealing of the magnificence of God which is the motivation for us to passionately pursue Him. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” These verses reveal the “why” for being thirsty, going to the Living Water, buying and eating, listening and eating what is good, delighting ourselves in abundance, inclining our ears and going to God, hearing and living, seeking and calling upon Him, forsaking our own ways and thoughts, and returning to the Lord!!!!! BECAUSE He is GOD and we have access to Him!
You see, God does not want or expect us to settle into our own thoughts and ways believing that He is too high and mighty for us and that we cannot think or act like Him.! He wants us to live righteously because of Who He is and what He has done for us. Our righteousness blesses Him and glorifies His Name! Think on this! Since God tells the wicked to forsake their ways and the unrighteous man His thoughts (that would be us, not others) He replaces those ways and thoughts with His own when we are willing to seek Him, leaving our own ways and running “to” His high thoughts and ways.
Most often we are faithful to pray and seek the Lord, to humble ourselves and cry out to Him, but not so often are we willing to forsake our wicked and unrighteous ways because we do not consider our ways unrighteous or wicked. But if we acknowledge there are times we are wicked and unrighteous, and then forsake them, we would experience the privilege of thinking heavenly thoughts because He has glorified us. (v.5) We do well to seek His thoughts and ways in order to pray His will be done on earth as we say in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
The last thing to notice is how God makes it so easy to comprehend how we can think His thoughts and know His ways by giving a simple illustration from nature to demonstrate how natural it is. Verses 10-11“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
We can all agree to these truths about rain and snow, so why not agree the same holds true for His Word. Just as rain and snow come down and do not return upwards, (we have downpours not up-pours) His Word comes forth from His mouth and does not return to Him empty. Just as rain and snow naturally water the earth causing things to come to life and bud, His Word waters our lives, causing us to come to life and bud! Just as rain and snow give seed to the person who plants it so they can replant, God’s Word gives seed to His people to plant into the lives of others for reproductive purposes. It always prospers! Just as rain and snow give bread for eating, God’s Word IS our daily bread to be eaten and digested. God’s Word goes out revealing His thoughts and ways. We are the recipients! Drink deeply! Prosper! And enjoy!
The next time you have the inclination to settle for whatever life brings, remember that God’s thoughts are not your thoughts, and His ways are not your ways! They are higher than ours – So – Reach higher! Let His thoughts and ways permeate your own! You will see and taste how good the Lord truly is!