This chapter is an invitation to the wedding supper of the Lamb, when God will celebrate his remarriage to the Israel, together with the Gentile Church. It implies a Gospel of repentance and forgiveness for all who believe, including Gentiles.
The previous chapter unveiled the beauty of millennial Jerusalem, and God promised eternal blessings on his restored people, Israel. Here in chapter 55, God gives an open invitation to everyone, not just to Israel, to come and enjoy his free provision. He is throwing a feast, and everyone is invited.

This invitation is open to anyone who is thirsty and wishes to drink, without money or cost. It is God's free provision (v1). Fine food is also on the menu (v2). God renews his covenantal promises upon Israel as a nation, like those God gave to David (v3). God made David a witness to nations. Now he makes the whole nation of Israel a witness to the nations (v4). Because of the honour God bestows on Israel, nations (or Gentiles - same word in Hebrew) will run to her (v5), the implication being that they want to share in her blessings, or bring tribute (search tags: Nations bring tribute to Jesus). The invitation is combined with a call to repentance while the Lord makes himself available (v6), with a promise of mercy and forgiveness for those who abandon their sinful lifestyles and seek the Lord (v7). This suggests a period of amnesty, both for Israel and for the Gentile nations who respond to the invitation.

Verses 8 to 9 seems to anticipate a challenge from Israel over God's inclusion of Gentiles. God responds that his ways are higher than their ways - they might not understand his outreach to Gentiles, but they must accept the wisdom of his plan. God explains his actions by describing his provision of rain to the earth, and seed to the planter (v10) which he does not limit to Israel. Jesus explains this verse more fully in Matthew 6:43-46, "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

In verse 11, God explains that just as his provision for the earth fulfils his intended purposes, so his provision of grace and forgiveness to the Gentiles will achieve his intended purposes. In verses 12 to 13, he goes on to explain that Israel will enjoy great blessing throughout the world. They will go out with joy and be led along in peace. The mountains and hills (symbolic of kingdoms) will give a joyful shout before them. The trees in the field (symbolic of rulers in the countries of the world) will applaud them with clapping hands. The Gentile nations will no longer be like thorn bushes or nettles that would hurt Israel, but will be like evergreens and firs that are harmless and a blessing. The Gentiles will become a lasting monument to the Lord.

The ultimate fulfilment of this chapter will occur in the context of Christ's earthly kingdom, established in Zion. Revelation 19:9 calls it 'the wedding supper of the Lamb'. The angel announces it immediately before the battle of Armageddon when the liberation of earthly Jerusalem is anticipated. The feast surely takes place after the battle, but victory is so sure that the announcement can be made first. In fact, even 2,000 years ago, Christ's victory was so certain that it was appropriate for Jesus to announce the invitation even then, as in John 7:37-39, "On the last day of the feast, the greatest day, Jesus stood up and shouted out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. Just as the scripture says, ‘From within him will flow rivers of living water.’” (Now he said this about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were going to receive, for the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.)"

In saying this, Jesus interpreted Isaiah 55 in a spiritual way, and brought fulfilment of it into the present age. This doesn't mean it won't also be fulfilled literally in the end times. Both interpretations are appropriate, and it is interesting to see how Jesus spiritualises it. He says that if we come and drink, we will receive living water. Jesus' description of this living water seems to also allude to Isaiah 58:11, which likens it to a perpetual spring. John, in turn, interprets that living water as the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2:38, after the Holy Spirit has been given, Peter explains how everyone can receive this gift, "Repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit". The need for repentance certainly comes straight out of Isaiah 55:6-7. However, it took Peter somewhat longer to fully grasp the Gentile dimension of Isaiah 55 (see Acts 10).

In its end-time fulfilment, this feast is called the wedding supper of the Lamb because it celebrates Jesus' redemption of end-time Israel, together with all who believe from Gentile nations (i.e. the Church). Concerning this end-time generation of Israel, Paul assures us in Romans 11:26, "And so all Israel will be saved…" However, concerning previous generations, including that to which Jesus ministered 2,000 years ago, Jesus warned them bluntly that many Jews would forfeit their invitation (Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 14:15-24). In Matthew 8, the context is appropriately that of Jesus and the Roman centurion who requested healing for his servant. Though a Gentile, Jesus was amazed at his faith, which was in contrast to the unbelief of the Jews.

In its end-time context, the timing of this feast coincides with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Israel, their recognition of Jesus as Messiah, and their national repentance (Zechariah 12:10-14). In this context, who are the Gentiles that are called to repentance? Christian believers will have been raptured at the last trumpet and no longer need to be called to repentance. That means that Gentiles who at that point are still unsaved, but have not taken the mark of the beast (Revelation 14:9-11 and 16:2) must be in view. It indicates that there will be a period of amnesty (grace) for the lost who survive the Great Tribulation.
Places: Zion, Millennial Jerusalem
Symbols: Wedding of the Lamb, Holy Spirit as Living water, Mountains as kingdoms, Trees as people or rulers
Tags: Wedding Feast, Banquet, Gospel invitation, Millennial Jerusalem, Jesus a light to the Gentiles, Holy Spirit as living water, Nations stream to millennial Jerusalem, Israel a light to the Gentiles
The Lord Gives an Invitation
1 “Hey, all who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come! Buy and eat! Come! Buy wine and milk without money and without cost!
2 Why pay money for something that will not nourish you? Why spend your hard-earned money on something that will not satisfy? Listen carefully to me and eat what is nourishing! Enjoy fine food!
3 Pay attention and come to me! Listen, so you can live! Then I will make an unconditional covenantal promise to you, just like the reliable covenantal promises I made to David.
4 Look, I made him a witness to nations, a ruler and commander of nations.”
5 Look, you will summon nations you did not previously know; nations that did not previously know you will run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he bestows honor on you.
6 Seek the Lord while he makes himself available; call to him while he is nearby!
7 The wicked need to abandon their lifestyle and sinful people their plans. They should return to the Lord, and he will show mercy to them, and to their God, for he will freely forgive them.
8 “Indeed, my plans are not like your plans, and my deeds are not like your deeds,” says the Lord,
9 “for just as the sky is higher than the earth, so my deeds are superior to your deeds and my plans superior to your plans.
10 The rain and snow fall from the sky and do not return, but instead water the earth and make it produce and yield crops, and provide seed for the planter and food for those who must eat.
11 In the same way, the promise that I make does not return to me, having accomplished nothing. No, it is realized as I desire and is fulfilled as I intend.”
12 Indeed you will go out with joy; you will be led along in peace; the mountains and hills will give a joyful shout before you, and all the trees in the field will clap their hands.
13 Evergreens will grow in place of thorn bushes, firs will grow in place of nettles; they will be a monument to the Lord, a permanent reminder that will remain.