“. . .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.” (Isaiah 55:11)
This chapter of the prophet Isaiah is filled with images and promises that excite and elate us. Yet he proclaimed them originally to a people who were had been defeated by the Babylonians. They had lost everything and were now going into exile far away from the Promised Land. To people undergoing such great suffering, the words would seem to be empty promises, like a dream compared to what they were actually experiencing. The words Isaiah prophesied the joy of those Jews who would return from exile some 70 years later. The exiles were urged not to look at what was happening and so be discouraged, but look to the future as well as to the past to recall what Israel as a people had experienced throughout her history. As they did, they would realize that God had always been faithful to His word even whether He was promising victory and blessing or judgment and tribulation. Thus His promises of future joy made here are as good as realized.
In the midst of our earthy sufferings we too must look to the past to remember what God has done not just for us but for His people the Church. He has always been faithful to His promises. His word does not change. And the great promise that we hold on to is eternal life. This is freely given without cost to us. This does not mean that every human being is saved or inherits eternal life. God’s grace is not cheap grace. The offer of free salvation is bestowed only on those who have faith in the sacrifice of Christ. Faith is the necessary requirement for salvation because without it, one does not really know he/she needs God’s mercy to be saved or that he/she is a sinner. Those who do not or will not repent cannot agree with the Lord as to their sinfulness and thus cannot have fellowship with Him. Those who request His help will, however, definitely find that He is there to lift them up. They alone will experience the eternal joy of heaven. Why do so many people not accept the offer of salvation? Why do they spend money on what is not bread?