The Old Testament reading for Friday, March 23 is:

Isaiah 55–56:8 (Listen)

The Compassion of the Lord

55:1   “Come, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
  and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
  Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.
  Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
  Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in rich food.
  Incline your ear, and come to me;
    hear, that your soul may live;
  and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
    my steadfast, sure love for David.
  Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
    a leader and commander for the peoples.
  Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
    and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
  because of the LORD your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has glorified you.
  “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, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
  For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither 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.
10   “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
  making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11   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.
12   “For you shall go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
  the mountains and the hills before you
    shall break forth into singing,
    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13   Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
    instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
  and it shall make a name for the LORD,
    an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

Salvation for Foreigners

56:1   Thus says the LORD:
  “Keep justice, and do righteousness,
  for soon my salvation will come,
    and my righteousness be revealed.
  Blessed is the man who does this,
    and the son of man who holds it fast,
  who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it,
    and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”
  Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say,
    “The LORD will surely separate me from his people”;
  and let not the eunuch say,
    “Behold, I am a dry tree.”
  For thus says the LORD:
  “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
    who choose the things that please me
    and hold fast my covenant,
  I will give in my house and within my walls
    a monument and a name
    better than sons and daughters;
  I will give them an everlasting name
    that shall not be cut off.
  “And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
    to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD,
    and to be his servants,
  everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
    and holds fast my covenant—
  these I will bring to my holy mountain,
    and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
  their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
  for my house shall be called a house of prayer
    for all peoples.”
  The Lord GOD,
    who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,
  “I will gather yet others to him
    besides those already gathered.”


English Standard Version: Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.

Old Testament Pastoral Commentary for Isaiah 55:1-56:8
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
This beautiful invitation wonderfully illustrates the grace of God. "Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." Jesus is the One who fulfills this offer: "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." (John 7:37) How often we foolishly chase after costly things that cannot satisfy, when God offers us the richest of fare that can truly satisfy our souls and provide eternal life—at no cost to us, purely by His grace! This offer is made to all "the peoples" and stands for all time, based on "an everlasting covenant." All we need do is eat and drink by faith at the table of the Lord, as Jesus said: "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you." (John 6:27). Nevertheless, there is an urgent tone to Isaiah's words: "Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near." The prophet's call to repentance is clear. God is prepared to abundantly pardon all who turn to Him, but repent we must. His compassion doesn't make sense to us. It violates our sense of justice. God's thoughts are as much higher than our thoughts as the highest heavens are above the earth. What brings us to the point of repentance, where we are ready to receive His grace and eat and drink the spiritual food of eternal life? It is the Word of God. God's Word does not proceed from His mouth and fall empty to the ground. It accomplishes the purpose for which He sent it! When we listen to His Word, receive His grace, and enjoy His rich fare, the result is abundant joy and peace. The prophet pictures all creation rejoicing with us—the mountains sing and the trees clap their hands. Repentance and the grace of God result in transformation for those who have believed. "Blessed is the man who does this." And this promise is not limited to God's chosen people. Even the foreigner will be given an everlasting name. What a blessing this is to those of us Gentiles who have come to share the faith of Abraham through God's own Son, Jesus Christ! Jesus words echo verse 8: "I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered." He said: "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."