Isaiah 55:6-9 - Seek the Lord while He may be found

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The Messiah in Isaiah

Isaiah 55:6-9 - Seek the Lord while He may be found

by I Gordon


We looked in our last series of studies at the fantastic passage in Isaiah 53 which gave clear prophetic insight into the life, death and resurrection of the coming Messiah! Truly it is an awesome chapter! In this study I want to look at three verses in Isaiah 55 and it is a good follow because it tells us what to do in light of the message that we have seen in Isaiah 53. Let's look at the scripture for this study...

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:6-9)

So our passage starts by instructing us to seek the Lord while He might be found. It is fair to say that there isn't a person in this world that this command doesn't relate to. There is no one that can say - 'Mmmm, naaa... I don't think that I really need to seek the Lord'. This is a command from God that applies equally to the Christian and non-Christians alike.

Þ You may never have been born again - this verse is telling you that you need to seek the Lord for your eternal life depends on it.
Þ You may have become a Christian but have worries & doubts and lack the assurance of salvation - you need to seek the Lord.
Þ You may be faced with problems, be they health, financial, or relationship issues... Maybe you don't know the way forward - you need to seek the Lord.
Þ You may be considering what direction to take in this life - you need to seek the Lord!
Þ Or maybe, just maybe, you aren't asking for anything from the Lord but have a growing inward desire to know the Lord is a deeper way - Yep... seek the Lord!

We need to be seeking the Lord. We need to be in the 'Pursuit of God' as A.W.Tozer put it. There is so much in this world that seeks to blind the eyes of the non-Christian to the truth about God and there is so much that seeks to draw the Christian away from their Lord. To make matters worse, the Bible declares that it is only going to get worse leading up to the return of Jesus Christ. Have you noticed that when you stop pursing and seeking God that you do not remain in a motionless state? [1]

Seek the Lord while He may be found

Now the text doesn't just say 'Seek the Lord'. It says seek Him while He may be found.

I've been thinking a little about this lately as this is especially important for the precarious position of the non-Christian. So many in Western Society, as you well know, are only caught up in the here and now. Our whole financial mess has been driven by the greed of western society that must have things NOW! Who cares if we can't afford it! I need it now! The excessive debt? Oh well, we'll tackle that later - everyone is doing it! The same goes when it comes to spiritual matters. Who cares what happens down the road - I just want pleasure and enjoyment today. So they give little thought to why they are here and what is the come. Sure... they may think they should look into God one day... but not yet. Maybe once the 'good years' are passed and the thought of death becomes a little more real! In the mean time they much prefer to be lovers of pleasure than lovers of God as the Bible predicted.

But our text says - Seek the Lord 'while He may be found' - and nobody knows when that door will shut. People may think they'll look into Jesus later, but nobody can guarantee that there is a 'later'. [2] Let's have a look at a couple of quick fire scriptures concerning this fact that all mankind should seek the Lord while He may be found.

Seek while the door is open!

Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" He said to them, Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Sir, open the door for us.' "But he will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from.' Then you will say, 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.' But he will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!' There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last." (Luke 13:22-30)

In its context Jesus was saying some revolutionary things to these Jews. They thought they had automatic entrance into the Kingdom due to the fact they were Jews. Jesus said no - you must enter through the narrow door (and we should know that He is the door!). The second revolutionary thought for the Jew was that Gentiles would come and be part of the Kingdom when some of them would not! The first would be last and the last, first! But the story has implications for all...Notice that there is a time limit to enter that narrow door. It says that they sought to enter but were not allowed! Why? Because they sought to enter only after the door was shut. Once a person dies and are faced with the reality of life after death, they would no doubt desire to enter the kingdom of Heaven. But the door is then shut.

That is why Isaiah says: ' Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.' There is a different aspect to this as well. The Bible declares that the day of salvation is now.

2Co 6:2 Behold, now is "THE ACCEPTABLE TIME," behold, now is "THE DAY OF SALVATION"

The day when God is near and approachable is now. But that window of opportunity is closing. The day of salvation will one day be replaced by the day of the Lord, which is described in Bible prophecy [3] as a day of darkness and judgement. Consider the following scripture in regards to this thought of their being a limited time in which to seek the Lord.

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

This passage tells us that there will actually come a time when God Himself will send a delusion upon all those that will not believe the truth so that they fall hook line and sinker for the enemies lies. They completely and repeatedly refuse to love the truth so the door to seek and find the Lord is shut.

Universalism? Nope.

Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. (Isaiah 55:7)

Why should the wicked forsake his way and turn to God? Because God will freely pardon that's why! The price has been paid and the only requirement for mankind is to turn to God as a repentant sinner and receive His mercy. Yet as Christianity turns further from the truth revealed in God's word (unto what man would like to believe), there are more amongst 'Christendom' that are starting to adopt beliefs like 'all religions lead eventually to God' or 'all will eventually be saved' (universalism). The Bible doesn't teach that all are, or will be, saved. The need, as always, is to turn from your ways and to accept God's pardon while the time is available to do so. Does Romans 1:16 say 'For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone'? Well, it does say that but it doesn't end there! If it ended there then a person may suspect that the gospel brings salvation for everyone no matter what... But it doesn't end there. The full quote says 'For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.' Don't ever miss that last part in bold! The good news MUST be accepted and it MUST be accepted in this life. Provisionally salvation has been purchased for all. Practically it is given to those who believe and receive it. I read an interesting illustration recently that, uh, illustrates this need to accept God's pardon. It is in the small print for those interested. [4]

Why should we ALL seek God?

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares 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. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

This final verse stresses the reason to seek God. Why do we all need to seek the Lord? Because 'My thoughts are not your thoughts' declares the Lord! There are a flood of thoughts in this world and the way of God and the way of man are in conflict. The walls of the Church are always bombarded by the relentless tide of the worlds' thoughts and ways that seek to erode its defence. Lately this tide has become a flood. Whatever topic we were to address would expose the gulf in thought between God's ways and man's ways. [5]

Now, I've been focusing more on salvation in this message because that is the context of this passage but in the next study I will look at some key examples for the Christian life where 'our thoughts are not His thoughts' and 'our ways are not His ways'. But for now - let's just look generally at this passage...How can God illustrate how much greater His thoughts and ways are compared to our thoughts and ways? Well, there's not much in creation that God can use to illustrate this accurately. He can't say 'as high as a tree is to a are my thoughts above your thoughts' or even 'as high as a mountain is to a man so are my ways above your ways'... We can climb a tree. Some can climb a mountain. But when He wants to help our little pea brains grasp how much higher and greater His thoughts and ways are compared to ours, He says 'As high as the heavens are above the earth. So let's think about that. How far are the heavens above the earth? Well let's just say that for light to travel from the nearest star outside of our solar system to earth takes 4.35 years! And remember that is at the speed of light! The numbers and distance is mind boggling as the following footnote will show. [6] Yet that is the illustration that God is forced to use to compare His thoughts with our thoughts!

Conclusion - Look at the start of the chapter!

God's call to all is seek Him. It is to come to Him. While I only focused on verses 6-8 in this study, let me sum up by the words that open this chapter. And I may, if it is ok with you, place a little bit of emphasis on certain words. See if you can pick it up! : )

"Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost. "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 delight yourself in abundance. "Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David. (Isaiah 55:1-3)

You would have noticed that is says 'Come' 4 times. Three times in the first verse alone.
We are told to 'Listen' or 'Incline your ear' 3 times. Come to God, people. It won't cost you a dime. The only cost will be in your time but believe me when I say that you cannot afford not to come!

Why should we seek the Lord? Because He is God Almighty... the creator of the universe. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. They are so much higher and so much deeper than our thoughts. Yet He asks us to come! He desires and asks us to seek Him that we would partake of that which is good and live. Amen.

[1]  The pull of the world is always contrary to the commands of the Lord so, like when you stop swimming in a current, you go backwards! You may not realise it. It may be slow at first. But it will happen if you stop fellowshipping with the Lord and with His people. Charles Spurgeon put it a different way with this comforting, argh, sobering, thought 'If you are not seeking the Lord, the Devil is seeking you.'

[2]  When Jesus died on the cross there was a thief that died on either side of Him. Both mocked Him at the start of the crucifixion - yet one turned and believed in Him and found eternal life right at the very end. The other didn't but remained in his unbelief and hardness of heart and found what could be described as eternal death. I have always remembered and liked what Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones said concerning this:

'One thief was saved so that there would always be hope. But only one so that there would not be presumption.'

What does that mean? If you have a friend or loved one who is not saved, you can take hope from the one thief that repented at the final hour that salvation is available right up until the last breath. But a man should never presume that He can just leave it until the end and then make peace with God for one thief saw all that occurred and still would not repent.

[3]  I recently watched an excellent DVD called 'The Daniel Project' about Bible prophecy. Go on... google it. It is worth watching! In the documentary they interview Jacob Prasch and he said something that caught my attention.

He said that previously each individual had until the day they died to believe on the Lord Jesus. Now the entire world is being put on notice through all the signs of the return of Jesus taking place that the day of salvation is coming to an end. The door is shutting. The day of the Lord is approaching.

[4]  During the presidency of Andrew Jackson, George Wilson, a postal clerk, robbed a federal payroll from a train and in the process killed a guard. The court convicted him and sentenced him to hang. Because of public sentiment against capital punishment however, a movement began to secure a presidential pardon for Wilson (first offence), and eventually President Jackson, 14 June, 1830, intervened with a pardon. Amazingly, Wilson refused. Since this had never happened before, the Supreme Court was asked to rule on whether someone could indeed refuse a presidential pardon. Chief Justice John Marshall handed down the court's decision: "A pardon is a parchment whose only value must be determined by the receiver of the pardon. It has no value apart from that which the receiver gives to it. George Wilson has refused to accept the pardon... We cannot conceive why he would do so, but he has. Therefore, George Wilson must die."

George Wilson, as punishment for his crime, was hanged. A Pardon, declared the Supreme Court, must not only be granted, it must be accepted.

[5]  Seeing that we have been talking more about salvation, let's have a look at man's thoughts versus God's thoughts on this topic. A favourite author of mine, William Newell, wrote a tract many decades ago contrasting the thoughts of man and the thoughts of God in regards to salvation. As you read each of the claims made by man concerning salvation, think about how you would answer these from scripture:

Man says: "I do not believe that I am lost."
God says: "The Son of man came to seek and to save that which is lost."

Man says: "I believe doing right is the way to heaven."
God says: " By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight "

Man says: "I am doing the best I can. What more can God expect?"
God says: This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He hath sent"

Man says: "There are others worse than I am."
God says: "There is no difference: for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."

Man says: "I was born into a Christian family."
God says: "You must be born again."

Man says: "I have a noble nature."
God says: "You were by nature children of wrath."

Man says: "I am willing to take my chance."
God says: "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?"

[6]  Ok, let's say a bit more about this! I'm sure you all know that when we start talking about the heavens we have to measure things in light years - the distance that light can travel in a year. And I'm sure you know all too well that light travels at a speed of... uh... of the top of my head... 299,792 km/s. So... some facts:

The time for light to navigate the circumference of planet Earth? 1/7 of a sec. (40,075.16 kilometres)
The time for light to travel from the Sun to Earth: 8 min 20 sec
The time for light to travel from the nearest star outside of our Solar system (called Proxima Centauri in the Alpha Centauri System. Our sun is a star in our solar system): 4.35 years.

That's why God compared His thoughts to man's thoughts using the illustration of the height if the heavens compared to the earth. It's about now that my little pea-brain starts saying 'Who is this God?'

The other thing we can say concerning the heavens is its vastness. The following is from the NASA Website:

Our star (sun) and its planets are just one small part of the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way is a huge city of stars, so big that even at the speed of light, it would take 100,000 years to travel across it. And our Solar System is just one member of a vast Milky Way galaxy with 200 to 400 billion stars. But how many galaxies are there in the entire Universe? This is a difficult number to know for certain, since we can only see a fraction of the Universe, even with our most powerful instruments. The most current estimates guess that there are 100 to 200 billion galaxies in the Universe, each of which has hundreds of billions of stars.

Yep, the universe is mind-bogglingly vast. And so is God! Yet remember what the Psalmist said concerning this God and His thoughts :

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. (Psalms 139:17-18)

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalms 103:11-12)