Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money, come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
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 let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live. Isa 55:1-3
Everyone who is thirsty and hungry can come and buy water and bread without cost – water that truly satisfies thirst and bread that truly satisfies hunger. The living water and the bread from heaven, which is Messiah Yeshua! The LORD is telling His people that they will eat what is good by listening to Him, inclining their ear, and hearing.
Listening to what though? His Word. Messiah Yeshua is His Word made flesh, and that is the bread from heaven and the living water. When the LORD says, Hear, and your soul shall live, the Hebrew verb “hear” is shama, Strong’s H8085. It is the same verb used in the famous verse, Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one (Deu 6:4)! The definition of this word in Hebrew is more than we think of when we think of hearing, or merely receiving audio signals with our ears. In Hebrew, to hear is to hear and obey (even the Strong’s Dictionary bears this out): hearing and obeying are the same action, for until someone has done what they have heard, they haven’t heard anything at all!
It is by hearing God’s Word, then acting on it, that the man’s soul shall live. This is why, to live, the wicked forsakes his wicked way and returns to the LORD for abundant pardon. If he has forsaken his own way, he is no longer acting wickedly, and if he is seeking the LORD and returning to Him, then he is acting according to the LORD’s way, or obeying His word.
For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there, but water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud
That it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isa 55:10-11
It is His word, including torah, that we are to hear and obey that our soul may live. The word torah comes from the primitive Hebrew root yarah, Strong’s H3384, an agricultural word meaning “to cast forth rain or fruit.” The idea behind torah, then, is that just as the rain is cast forth and the ground produces fruit because of it, so the torah — the instruction and teaching of the Heavenly Father to His children — is cast forth into our hearts, which then produces the fruit of life and blessing.
Three times in Isa 56 (three: the sign of Messiah in Scripture!) the LORD combines keeping the Sabbath with doing that which is righteous, choosing what is pleasing to the LORD, and holding fast to His covenant (vs. 2, 4, and6). Yes, even for Gentiles! For the Gentile who joins himself to the LORD to serve Him, to love the LORD and to be His servants — who keeps from defiling the Sabbath and holds fast to His covenant — they will also be counted among the regathered of Israel!
In the Hebrew way of thinking, salvation cannot be divorced from obedience — only in our modern culture do we think that. Even historical Christianity did not divorce salvation from obedience, but saw outward obedience to God’s word and a changed life as evidence of salvation and inward faith. Let His word be our plumb line, and let us not mistakenly think that because a man has told us that Sabbath keeping no longer matters to the LORD, we dismiss His word and His commandments! Even Jesus told us that the one who does His Father’s will is the one who will enter the kingdom of heaven (Mat 7:21).
We have to lay down man’s way of thinking, that says obedience is not in our best interests (a lie the serpent tried to sell to Eve in the Garden), and pick up God’s way of thinking which is higher than ours, that says hear (and obey) and your soul will live!