Summary: Isaiah cried out for attention because he had a very encouraging invitation to convey. Then Jesus came (John 7:37,38) and gave the invite in Person.
“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, NASB95)
("HO" or other translation ignored in NIV and ESV)
“HO!” If you were walking down a street and someone across the road or perhaps in a nearby park yelled that at the top of their lungs, wouldn’t it get your attention?
“YO!” “HEY!” When a man stands in a public place and yells something like that it means he has something important he wants to communicate. Unless he’s crazy. Even if he’s crazy he probably thinks in his own mind that he has something important to say.
“YO! The world ends tomorrow right after ‘Everybody Loves Raymond!”
It interests me that in my search for some commentary on the way this chapter begins I could not find one that even made brief mention of Isaiah’s mode of capturing attention.
My guess is that since it really doesn’t mean anything in and of itself they’ve all thought it more important to go straight to his message.
I happen to think it is of great importance that we stop and consider why Isaiah apparently cried out with a loud voice, “HO!” and then went into his sermon.
Isaiah’s ministry lasted over a period of 50 years or more. He prophesied during the reigns of several kings and I won’t name them all and turn this into a history lesson, but his message was primarily to Judah, at least at first, and later to the nation in captivity to Babylon.
We also note however, that his message had a two-fold purpose. One was to bring warning and then comfort to his beloved nation which had turned her back on God, and the other was to prophecy concerning an age that would come long after Isaiah was gone, and would affect not only Israel but the entire world.
I’m certain Isaiah understood very little of that part of his message and the things he saw in visions; but looking back from this side of the cross they become amazingly clear to us, and they astound us at times with the historic detail that could not have been known to anyone but God.
Isaiah served the Lord faithfully and zealously, with a great love for God’s people and a fervency that ought to fill every pulpit in the church in our day, since we too now are going the way of that ancient nation of Israel in turning away from the Living God.
Here is what British expositor, G. Campbell Morgan had to say about Isaiah:
“The whole story of the prophet Isaiah, as it is revealed to us in this one book, is that of a man who spoke to an inattentive age or to an age which, if attentive, mocked him and refused to obey his message, until, as the prophetic period drew to a close, he inquired in anguish, ‘Who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ ” (Westminster Pulpit, vol. 10, p. 10)
So as we come to this chapter and look at just these opening verses today, remember that they come from God through His man; a man longing for a listening ear, not just so he could be heard, but so that God’s voice might be heard and the hearers would benefit for eternity.
This message goes out to everyone. More pointedly, to every one. If we say ‘everyone’ we think of a sort of blanket invitation. But from God it is not that general and non-specific. It is to every one.
The nation as a whole may have turned a deaf ear to the prophet’s message and as a nation is suffering the consequences. But even in the midst of national decline the individual can make a choice to listen and benefit.
In a book titled “Candles Behind the Wall”, author Barbara Van Der Heydt recounts story after story of people who bravely stood by their Christian convictions even though trapped in East Berlin and other Communist territories and suffered dearly for their steadfastness; stories that only came to light after the wall came down and people were free to talk.
God’s voice has never been silenced and will be heard by individuals who will respond to His call and follow no matter how dark and oppressive their circumstances.