1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. 3 Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.
6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
ISAIAH 55:1-3, 6, 8
Ernst Engel (1821-96) proposed what is now known as Engel’s Law, which states that the lower a family’s income, the greater is the proportion that is spent on food. A family must eat and, no matter how wealthy you are, food costs the same, so it is extremely likely that poorer families will spend, proportionately more on food than richer families.
Isaiah has something to say about our priorities, for today we certainly spend our money on ‘that which is not bread’, and the way in which we do so says something about our spiritual lives. A decision about what to buy can become all-consuming: if we need to change our car, television or washing machine, there is so much choice. There are shops to visit, brochures to read, people to consult, websites to browse. Shopping can be quite good fun, and we often spend time as well as money doing it because it is important not to waste money. But shopping can also become addictive. Sometimes we don’t know when to stop, when to make the purchase and get on with life. Yet, as James asks us, where does all this fit into the divine plan and the scale of eternity?
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4:13-24)
We should be investing our wealth in that which satisfies, and, while Isaiah uses the metaphor of food, he is actually making a spiritual recommendation. The feast to which God is inviting the Israelites through Isaiah is a spiritual feast, where the flowing wine and milk represent God’s outpouring of spiritual goodness and pleasure. We need to ‘seek the Lord’, ‘incline our ears to the word of God’, and live in the light of his covenantal love.’
Lord God, help us to assess our spiritual and material priorities so that we may seek first the wine of the kingdom. Amen.