The context of these words as originally written by the prophet Isaiah concerned the Israelite exiles held captive in Babylon. Many of them had grown so accustomed to Babylonian ways that they had forsaken the practice of their faith. Ridiculing these unfaithful exiles for satisfying themselves with junk food, Isaiah asked, “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread…which does not satisfy?”
The exiles had been captured by the tantalizing glitter of Babylonian wealth and power. Isaiah was preaching that the fall of Babylon was imminent and history was to prove him right, but the exiles had become so comfortable they resisted Isaiah’s message.
Isaiah was encouraging the exiles to return to Jerusalem. The long journey through the desert would be long and risky, but it would end with a joyous homecoming. Isaiah is asking the exiles to embrace a dramatically different future for themselves, to leave the Babylonian culture behind and to journey home. The “wicked” and the “unrighteous” of verse 7 are the exiles ignoring God’s offer of mercy and pardon and deciding instead to stay in Babylon. They are trusting in the ways and thoughts of this world instead of clinging to the covenant relationship with the God of Israel.
Isaiah 55:6-9 is a familiar passage used often as a call to worship. The reason is obvious – we are so much like those Israelite exiles, for we too have become very comfortable with the glittering culture that surrounds us. Isaiah’s words are truth for us – modern society is offering us junk food. We are called to feast on something much more lasting, the truth of God’s way and the trustworthiness of God’s covenant.
Prayer: O Lord, teach us to desire the nourishment of your kingdom and forsake the junk food offered by the world.