The Jews in Exile Prosperous Yet Thirsting
Isaiah 55:1-13
Ho, every one that thirsts, come you to the waters, and he that has no money; come you, buy, and eat…

Who are these thirsty souls, panting for a satisfaction which they have not yet found? They are the people of the hill country, now exiled to the plains. They have been bereft of the companionable apocalypse of the heights, and they are now immured in the unsuggestive monotony of the plains. I do not think you will. find a single helpful figure in the entire Bible borrowed from the plains. The plains lie prone as a speechless sphinx. The hill country is full of voices, loud in their intimations, prodigal in revelations. Its phenomena are the messengers of the infinite. There towers the rugged height, firm and immovable, standing sure and steadfast through the fickle and varied years. What is its suggestion? " Thy righteousness is like the great mountains." Yonder come the treasure-laden clouds, driving in from the great deep. They unburden their wealth upon the shoulders of Carmel, clothing it with a garment of rare and luxuriant beauty. What is their significance? "Thy mercy reached even unto the clouds." Here, on these bare, basaltic heights the tired and heated traveller rests in the cool and healing shadow of a friendly rock. What is the speech of the shadow "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." In the hill country all things are but the vestures and vehicles of larger things of spiritual import. T" he light, soft wind that stirs and breathes in the dawn — it is God who rides upon a cherub, yea, who "flies upon the wings of the wind." The gentle, mollifying rain falling upon the parched, bruised, broken stems of grass: "He shall come down like rain-upon the mown grass." The end of the drought; the unsealing of the springs among the hills; the gladsome sound of the river as it laughs and dances down the bare and rocky gorge: what is its significance? "Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures. ' It was an expressive, voiceful, suggestive land. Its features interpreted the face and character of God. Land and people were in communion, and their intercourse concerned the nearness and the favour and the providence of the Lord of hosts. But now the land and the people are divorced. The people are borne away into captivity. They leave the hill-country, so rich in interpreting speech, and they pass into the speechless monotony of the plains. Their environment is dumb. Their dwelling-place is no longer a sacrament: it is common, insignificant, speechless. They have passed from nature to art, and from art to artifice. They have left the shepherd and have met the merchant. They have left the work of the labourers in pastures and dressers of vineyards for a swift and feverish civilization. Now, take the people of the bracing, speaking, hill country, and immure them in this sweltering and superficial plain. In all the crowded interests by which they are engirt there is nothing suggestive of God. There was grandeur, but the grandeur had no voice. It was grandeur without revelation, and grandeur without revelation is never creative of awe. Where there is no awe, men step with flippant tread. The exile felt the glamour, felt the power of the grandeur, but in .the glamour and grandeur forgot his God. His vision was more and more horizontal, and less and less vertical. Ambition waxed feverish, and aspiration waxed faint. The spirit of the conqueror infected the captive. The babble of Babylon entered into Israel. Success was enthroned in place of holiness, and the soul bowed down and worshipped it. The exile embraced the world, and shut out the infinite. Now, what was the issue of that Y The exile made money. His body revelled in conditions of ease. His carnal appetites delighted themselves in fatness. He climbed into positions of eminence and power. What else? "In the fulness of his sufficiency he was in straits.' The body luxuriated; the soul languished. He drenched the body with comforts; but he couldn't appease its tenant. "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up, eat, drink, and be merry! And still the soul cried out, "I thirst," and disturbed him like an unquiet ghost, he spent money and more money, but was never able to buy the appropriate bread. He plunged into increased labours, but his labours reaped only that "which satisfied not." The body toiled, the brain schemed, the eyes coveted, and still the soul cried out, "I thirst. Now, when there sits in the soul a hungry unrest and a feverish thirst, life will drop into faintness, weariness and despair. All things become stale, flat, and unprofitable. We "spend our money for that which is not bread, and we labour for that which satisfieth not.' "All is vanity and vexation of spirit."

(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

WEB: "Come, everyone who thirsts, to the waters! Come, he who has no money, buy, and eat! Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

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