“Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.”
Part 1: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” (Isa. 55:2a)
Isaiah 55:1 begins with an invitation to “Come, eat and drink!” In this invitation we see the Lord’s desire to give to us. God is a lavish and abundant giver! But what does it mean to “come, eat and drink” what He is offering to us? Before answering this question, He asks a “wake up call” question: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” (Isa. 55:2) This question sheds light on the fact that we are not partaking in what He is offering to us because we are occupied with something else, something we thought was the real thing, but in fact was not.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “imitation”? You might think of imitation vanilla, or an imitation diamond, or of someone imitating another person. If something is an imitation, it means that it isn’t the real thing. A dictionary definition of the word is “a thing intended to simulate or copy something else.”
Quite often imitation is used as a tool of deception. For example, you might be baking something that requires vanilla flavoring. You go to the store and decide not to spend money on real vanilla flavoring, so you purchase the “imitation vanilla flavoring.” Unless someone has very refined taste buds, they probably won’t recognize that the real thing has not been used. Imitation vanilla was used to deceive the taste buds. Another example, if a con jeweler were trying to sell you a fake diamond, he wouldn’t hand you a piece of limestone, He would use something that looked as close to the original as possible so the deception wouldn’t be obvious, right? He would use an imitation – something that looked like the real thing but wasn’t in fact the real thing. In this case as well, an imitation was used to deceive. One of the devil’s tactics to lure us away from the Lord’s truth is imitation – he uses something that looks like the real thing to distract us from the real thing.
Life is God. Period. God is Life. We walk in Life as we walk in relationship with God. We were made for God – to live life with Him and in Him. The great deceiver has done a masterful job getting us to believe that Life is found in other things – that it will be found in a better job, when we have more money, if we had a boyfriend/girlfriend, in getting a good degree, in having more stuff. We “spend our money for that which is not bread and our life for things that don’t satisfy. The point is that we have been deceived by an imitation. We need bread to live, but an imitation won’t work. It can’t. If you saw someone chewing on a piece of cardboard when they thought it was a steak, the kindest thing would be to let them know and offer them the real thing, right? It is the love of God that would wake us up from being inoculated by things of this world and say, “Wake up! Life isn’t found in these things, but in Me!” He invites us to come, eat and drink of what He offers to us.
May the Lord open our eyes to see how we have been walking in the deception that life can be found outside of relationship with Him. Also, notice that it is not that other things are wrong. God created us to be human not angelic beings! He created us to work, to have relationships, to enjoy life. But notice that these other things find their right pace as we are in relationship with Him. In this place, He is free to add other things (money, jobs, relationships, etc) to our lives or take them away as He sees we have need of. Oswald Chambers said so well:
“The love of God! We have lost it to-day; we have turned our back on the ocean and are looking out over barren colourless hills for the ocean’s fulness. We need converting again—turning round, and there basks the ocean’s fulness, whose waves sparkle and ripple on fathomless deeps and fulnesses…Drink deep and full of the love of God and you will not demand the impossible from earth’s loves, and the love of wife and child, of husband and friend, will grow holier and healthier and simpler and grander.”
Part 2: “Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” (Isa. 552b)
Now He tells us how to “come, eat and drink” what He is offering to us. “Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” Wait! What are we to eat? His word. This sounds odd – how do you eat someone’s words? Notice that this verse is comparing 2 of our senses – eating and hearing. What do we eat? Food. What do we hear? Words. When we listen to what someone is saying and we receive it, we are allowing something to enter inside us and become part of us in the same way that eating allows something to enter inside us and become part of us. We partake of what He offers us by listening to His Word.
When encouraging people to spend more time in the Bible, people will often say, “You need to get into the Word!” This is true. But the point to getting in the Word is that the Word gets inside of you! Think of the Word of God like food! God is our life and He nourishes us with His Word. There is a very literal sense in which His Word is our food – it nourishes and sustains our spiritual life.
When you go to the Word of God, don’t just read words on a page, LISTEN! Listen to the Lord through His Word! Pick one verse that stands out and go over and over it – LISTEN TO IT! Word studies and concordances have their place, but often study will distract us from the simplicity of just listening to the Lord through His Word. As you listen, you are actually eating and drinking the Lord’s Word, it is entering inside you and becoming part of your life. Just like eating, sometimes it will “taste” really amazing, and other times it will taste dry. Listening to the word doesn’t always have to be epic! You don’t eat every meal expecting something amazing either – you eat to live. In the same way, you are to eat Word of God to live.
When you are going throughout your day and you are bored or lonely or worried, where does your mind go? What do you listen to (i.e., what do you “eat”)? Do you turn on your music, go to your Instagram, look to other people? Learn to turn to the Lord and His Word in those moments – listen to it! Eat it! As you do this, you will discover that it truly is abundant and satisfying!