God's Word For You is a free Bible Study site committed to bringing you studies firmly grounded in the Bible – the Word of God. Holding a reformed, conservative, evangelical perspective this site affirms that God has provided in Jesus Christ his eternal Son, a way of salvation in which we can live in his presence guilt free, acquitted and at peace.



© Rosemary Bardsley 2024

The entire message of Isaiah presents the urgent necessity of repentance. Without repentance – without a return to the one true God, judgement must fall. Although relevant to Judah at the time when Isaiah preached, this message of repentance is relevant to all people everywhere. The Day of the Lord, which Isaiah frequently refers to as ‘that day’, will come.

Isaiah’s message calls Israel, and all people everywhere, to return to the God who alone is God, discarding our various substitute gods. This is the core meaning of repentance, in both the Old and New Testaments. Isaiah’s message promises us forgiveness through the substitutionary death of Christ, the Suffering Servant. In commanding us to return to the one who alone is God, Isaiah also calls us away from the sinful life that resulted from our rejection of that God, to a life that displays his splendour.

Within Isaiah’s message, there are a number of places where he specifically focuses on the command to repent. We will look at just two of these.

Note: Often today, the gospel is presented as an invitation. But it is not merely an ‘invitation’. It is also an urgent command, an urgent warning. When we consider the urgency of the need to repent, when we consider the dread judgement that threatens at any moment, when we consider the great love of God that is reaching out to us, ready to lavish forgiveness on us, we realize that God’s calls to repent/believe are not a ‘take it or leave it’ ‘invitation’ with no pressure involved. They are an urgent, gut-wrenching imperative, such as a father would yell ‘Stop!’ when he saw his child about to run in front of a car.


Isaiah 1:2 - 20, while identifying the sin and the lostness of Judah, is also a sustained call to repent. This call to repent consists of:

Questions appealing to logic: ‘Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion?’ – verse 5 - 9. It simply doesn’t make any sense to persist in sin, when that sin leads to God’s judgement.

A command to hear/listen to the word of God – verse 10: God was well aware of their duplicity and insincerity, pointing out the meaninglessness of their worship and offerings (verses 11 – 17). Their hypocritical worship did not deceive God; it was exposed as false by the lack of compassion in their lives.

The reasonableness of turning and being forgiven: ‘Come now, let us reason together’ says the LORD – 1:18. He then promises total forgiveness of sins if they are willing and obedient (that is, obedient to the command to hear/respond to God’s word), but warns of the destruction that will come if they persist in rebellion against God.

The call to repent is both logical and reasonable: to cast aside wrong belief (belief in counterfeit gods) and believe the one true God makes perfect sense; to do so knowing that the past wrong belief and the sins that it produced will be forgiven also makes perfect sense. To continue in wrong belief and the associated sins, knowing that it will end in judgement makes no sense at all. Unless you have an unbelieving mindset.

It is the nature of wrong belief, and of unbelief, to not believe: to not believe that God is who he has revealed himself to be, to not believe that God will do what he has said he will do, and to not believe that there actually is a day of judgement. Because they are trapped in the darkness of their unbelief they cannot see the logic of God’s ‘Come now, let us reason together ...’

Rather, they reject the word of God, they reject the command to repent. Instead of the salvation and rest promised by God, they will ‘have none of it’ – Isaiah 30:12 – 15. They do not stop to think, they do not recognize the foolishness of their beliefs and actions - their ‘deluded heart misleads’ them – 44:19 – 20. They have ‘entered into a covenant with death’ and are trusting in the lies and falsehood they have deliberately embraced (Isaiah 28:15); the life God offers does not attract them. For them that promised ‘life’, and the God who offers it, do not exist.

Reflection: Compare the mindset of Isaiah’s contemporaries with the mindset of your culture today. In what ways does your culture reflect the same ignorance and rejection of the true God?




Isaiah 55 is a sustained call/command to repent, although the word ‘repent’ is not used.

Read this chapter. Answer the questions below.
List the various ways the command to repent is expressed. (There are at least 10.)


What is promised to those who respond? (You might be able to find seven or eight.)


How do these promises parallel the promises of the gospel of Jesus Christ?


What does this chapter teach about Jesus Christ and his work?


What does Isaiah say about the way God thinks compared to the way people think?


How is the urgency of repentance expressed?


Where is grace expressed?


What does Isaiah teach about God’s word?


Here in this chapter the gospel of Jesus Christ is anticipated:

B.1 The promise to the thirsty – verse 1,2
The gospel of Jesus Christ addresses those who are spiritually thirsty and hungry, who have nothing, and know they have nothing and can do nothing to satisfy their deep spiritual needs.

What did Jesus say about this?
John 4:7 – 14

John 6:35

John 7:37, 38

Revelation 7:16, 17

This spiritual satisfaction/contentedness begins when we receive Jesus Christ and continues beyond this life into eternity. God, the true God, satisfies the longing soul (Psalm 107:9, KJV).

B.2 ‘without money and without cost’ – verse 1, 2
This complete satisfying of our spiritual needs is ‘without money and without cost’. It is something we can obtain even though we ‘have no money’. This points to the grace – the freely given gift – of the gospel. When we receive Jesus Christ, God freely gives us, in him, every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3; Colossians 2:10). We do not merit, we do not earn, we do not deserve, these blessings.

What does the apostle Paul say about this?
Romans 3:22 – 24

Romans 5:15 – 17

Romans 11:6

Galatians 2:21

Ephesians 1:7, 8

Ephesians 2:4 – 9

Note that the grace nature of the gospel assumes our spiritual poverty and inability – we ‘have no money’. We have no spiritual coinage or credit to buy ourselves out of our predicament.

B.3 ‘...your soul will delight in the richest of fare’ – verse 2.
The verses above, particularly those in Ephesians, point out the extreme generosity of God’s grace. Paul uses words that express the richness of grace – ‘glorious’, ‘riches’, ‘lavished’, ‘incomparable riches’, and if we read further in Ephesians 3 – ‘unsearchable riches’, ‘glorious riches’, ‘immeasurably more’.

The salvation we have in Jesus Christ, is by grace – freely given and abundant; more than enough to meet every spiritual need.

So Isaiah says ‘your soul will delight’ in the completeness and richness of salvation, recalling the exhortations that followed the first, second and fourth Servant Songs – that we should sing and shout for joy because of who the Servant is and what he has accomplished.

We delight in Christ. We delight in the salvation we have in him, a salvation rich beyond description.

B.4 ‘Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live’ – verse 3.
Apart from Christ we are spiritually dead. Repeatedly the promise of Christ is ‘eternal life’ to those who believe in him. As John says:

‘’He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life’ – 1John 5:12.

‘’Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him’ – John 3:36.

Here in Isaiah 55:3 God offers life – just as Jesus Christ did. The call to repent is simple: give ear, that is, hear, listen, and come to me. To hear God and come to him is life; to hear Jesus Christ and come to him, is life. There is no difference. To hear the one is to hear the other. To come to one is to come to the other.

Think carefully about the following verses that promise life to those to come to/hear God or Jesus:
Psalm 27:1

Ezekiel 18:23, 30 – 32

Amos 5:4 – 6a

John 3:15 – 18

John 5:24

John 5:40

John 6:68

John 10:27, 28

John 17:2, 3

This is God’s desire for us – that we hear his voice, that we return to him, and that, by that hearing, by that coming to him, we thus live. This is the reason Jesus came and said what he said, and did what he did.

B.5 ‘I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David’ – verse 3.
Here again Isaiah mentions the new, everlasting covenant that is established in fulfilment of the Abrahamic and the Davidic Covenants, and by Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the descendant of Abraham. [See studies 12, 16, 19, 20 and 23.] This new covenant incorporates all people of true faith – all who hear God’s voice and come to him.

B.6 ‘I have made him a witness ...a leader and commander ...’ – verse 4
Christ, the Servant, the Son of David, is this ‘witness’. A ‘witness’ is a person who has seen and who knows. He has the facts in his knowledge. A witness’s purpose is to tell the truth. Jesus came to us and told us the truth about God, truth that he had always known. That is his witness; that is his testimony.

What do these verses tell us about Christ’s role as witness?
Matthew 24:14

John 3:11

John 3:31 – 34

John 18:37

Revelation 1:5; 3:14

And these verses which refer to the truth of the Gospel as ‘the testimony of Jesus’:
Revelation 1:2, 9; 12:17; 19:10


This witness of Jesus – the truth about God – is directed not just to the Jews, but also to the nations: through the proclamation of the gospel the nations hear Jesus’ testimony about God and truth, and by that testimony he commands them to repent. By that testimony he leads them to faith and to life.

B.6 ‘Seek the LORD ....’ – verse 6, 7
On the basis of the witness of Christ, the urgent call goes out to repent:

Seek the LORD – while he is may be found.
Call on him – while he is near.

The opportunity for repentance will not always be there.

Hebrews reminds us ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts’ (Hebrews 3:7, 15; 4:7, quoting Psalm 95:7,8).

Paul reminds us ‘now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation’ (2Corinthians 6:2).

Peter also – ‘The Lord ... is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come ...’ (2Peter 3:9,10).

So Isaiah urges us to seek and turn to the LORD, now, while the opportunity to do so is still open.

B.7 ‘...he will have mercy on him ... he will freely pardon’ – verse 7.
And here we have the central truth of the chapter: that repentance will result in mercy and free pardon.

How does Isaiah describe this pardon?

6:5 – 7





The pardon/forgiveness described in these verses is identical to the forgiveness that we have in Christ.

B.8 ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts ...’ – verse 8, 9.
From Isaiah’s repeated exposure of Judah’s sin and his message God’s judgement on that sin, we could reasonably conclude that there was no way to avoid the judgement. But there in the midst of it is God’s offer of free pardon, of a forgiveness that involves sin not being taken into account, sin not being remembered, by God.

And it just doesn’t make sense. Not to our human tit-for-tat mindset. Not for our legalistic worldview. We, like C.S. Lewis’ white witch in Narnia, do not think in terms of grace and mercy; we do not think in terms of a God who loves us so much that he himself provides a way out, the way of complete forgiveness through the substitutionary death of Christ described in Isaiah 53.

Our thoughts, our ways, is that you get what you deserve – you get what you merit or earn.

How is this human mindset expressed in these verses?
Matthew 20:1 – 16

Luke 18:9 – 12

Luke 18:18

Philippians 3:2 – 6

Notice how Paul refers to this mindset – to what God calls ‘your thoughts’ and ‘your ways’:

Romans 8:6 – ‘the mindset of the flesh’.

Galatians 4:3 – ‘the basic principles of the world.’

Galatians 4:9 – ‘weak and miserable principles’.

Colossians 2:8 – ‘hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of the world.’

Colossians 2:20 – ‘basic principles of this world’.

Jesus also demonstrated the difference between his thoughts and ways and our thoughts and ways, when he said ‘many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first’ (Matthew 19:30), then went on to illustrate this grace in the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1 – 16).

It was out of this great difference between the mindset of God and our human mindset that much of the false teaching that invaded the early church, and persists to this day, arose. We humans, unless we continually repent of our merit-based worldview, invariably alter the Gospel so that it is no longer the gospel of grace.

God says, that in Christ, grace reigns (Romans 5:21), that we have been released from the law (Romans 7:6), that we have been set free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2), that the blood of Christ cleanses our consciences (Hebrews 9:14).

But we, thinking in terms of merit, not mercy, ‘turn to a different gospel, which is really no gospel at all’ (Galatians 1:6, 7); we try ‘to attain (our) goal by human effort’ (Galatians 3:3); we, failing to understand mercy ‘receive God’s grace in vain’ (2Corinthians 6:1).

Here in Isaiah 55:8 & 9 God tells us: the mercy and the free pardon that I spoke of in verse 7 is something totally beyond your normal way of thinking, something you would never have even imagined or wished for. It is so different from how you think and act. (We saw this in Study 22, looking at the fourth Servant Song – that what the Servant does is something totally new and totally amazing.)

B.9 ‘...so is my word that goes out from my mouth ...’ – verses 10 – 11
In these two verses God affirms the effectiveness of his word. This is something evident from the beginning to the end of the Scripture. Consider:

The creative power of God’s word in Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 14, 20, 24, 26. God spoke, and it was done.

The power of the words of Christ, the Son of God, by which he healed, raised the dead and cast out demons. Christ spoke, and it was done.

The power of the word of Christ by which he sustains the universe – Hebrews 1:3b.

The power of the word of Christ to set people free from sin and guilt – John 13:10; 15:3.

The power of the word of Christ to impose the final judgement and bring all enemies to an end – 2Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:15, 21.

The power of the word of God to create the new heavens and new earth in an instant – Revelation 21:4 – 6a.

Addressed to people, God’s word has two purposes, and accomplishes one or the other, depending on our response. The same word of God that saves one, condemns another. It speaks of both salvation and judgement. Christ, the Word of God, is the cornerstone to one, and is a stumbling block to another. The gospel is ‘to the one ...the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life’ – 2Corinthians 2:16.

B.10 The joy and peace of the redeemed – verse 12, 13
God’s word accomplishes what God desires, and achieves the purpose for which he sent it – Isaiah 55:11. God’s word of redemption, of salvation, is fulfilled. For those who return to him in repentance and faith God’s purpose is joy and peace, a joy and peace that is everlasting, and that is ultimately shared by the whole of creation.

The death of Christ – and the gospel centred on it – accomplishes for those who receive it freedom from fear and guilt in the presence of God. We do not have to run from God, we do not, like those who reject his word, cry out to the rocks to hide us from him when he appears. The flight, fight, freeze options are rendered irrelevant and unnecessary. Isaiah’s fearful response (Isaiah 6:5) has no longer any place. We are safe, utterly safe, in his presence; as safe as Christ, the Son, is safe (Colossians 3:3). Christ, our Shepherd, carries us close to his heart (Isaiah 40:11).

And with this peace with God, there is joy, a joy that, as we have seen in previous studies, bursts forth into song.

This peace, and this joy, ‘will be for the LORD’s renown’ (55:13) – an everlasting tribute and testimony to the praise and the glory of God, through the saving work of his Servant, Jesus Christ.

What do these verses teach about the glory of God that results from him saving us in and through Christ?
Romans 16:27

2Corinthians 4:15

Galatians 1:3 – 5

Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14

Ephesians 3:21

Philippians 1:11

Jude 25.

Reflection: As you meditate on Isaiah 55, how does it help you to understand the salvation you have in Christ? How much of the peace and joy that Isaiah mentions in verse 11 do you experience in your relationship with God?