The Bible is full of riddles. Jesus was a classic proponent of them:
“This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” Matthew 13:13. Part of the reason that God’s truth is so confusing is that the logic that is used by God in the Bible is often the reverse of what we would expect; it is counter-intuitive.
Isaiah 55:1 is a good example of this.
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”
Isaiah here is talking about the basics of life, food and water, as a metaphor to help us to understand our spiritual condition. Without these, we die. There is a sense that the people he is talking to are on the road to death spiritually. So what will they do? One thing that is certain is that humans will satisfy their thirst. The only uncertainty is where they will satisfy it. What will they seek after and will they have the money to buy it? Then he goes on to say that His invitation is free yet you have to pay for it. If you don’t have any money, how can you buy from him?
I asked my son what the answer to these questions was last night and he was stumped. So we talked about Monopoly, the game of the moment in our house. I asked him, if you wanted to buy Mayfair for $500 and you didn’t have any money, how would you be able to do it? His first answer was that you could steal it! I promptly excused myself from the conversation and placed all of our family’s valuables in a safe! (I jest). His second suggestion was that you just borrow from the bank but I responded by saying that it still costs you to borrow from the bank. He was out of ideas so I suggested one: you could buy Mayfair without money if the owner of Mayfair gave you the money to buy it, then it would cost you nothing.
This is what it is like for us spiritually and physically.
We need lots of things from God because we were made to be constantly connected and dependent upon him. Our dislocation from him has set up a whole bunch of stress fractures and needs in our lives. We need his guidance, strength, help, provision and many physical needs like food and water. We need to get them from somewhere but how can we buy them when we are broke? We have nothing to offer Him that He either wants or could use. The best things we have to offer God, the best deeds, the best person we can be, is like a filthy rag (Isaiah 64:6) to Him. We have no money and no bargaining power. How will our soul find nourishment?
The secret is that he slips us the money to buy access to his great banquet.
“Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live …” Isaiah 55:2–3
The death of Jesus on the cross fills our bank account so that we can purchase abundance from him. This is an all you can eat smorgasbord like you have never seen. It doesn’t cost us a cent but it cost him everything.
One more thing… don’t get stuck filling your plate with croutons. The ultimate rich food that God offers is not the satisfaction of your needs but connection to God himself.
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God …” 1 Peter 3:18.
Be on the lookout for God’s truth and God’s work to be counter-intuitive.