Come to the waters
“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.” (Isa 55:1)
Used in several ways, water is significant in Scripture and provides a grand theme. God brought the dry land through the water in creation. He brought Noah and his family through the water back to dry ground in the de-creation and recreation event. God brought Israel through the water on dry land in another new creation, the making of a new people. He brought them through water again to enter the Promised Land. Passing through water on dry ground ushered in the passing of the mantle from Elijah to Elisha (twice). Elisha told Naaman to dip in water to be healed. Fast forward to Jesus where he was baptized by John to usher in His ministry. Baptism is part of the gospel message tied to remission of sins and sharing in Jesus’ death and resurrection (Acts 2:38; Rom 6:1-5). Passing through water signals a new creation where hearts and consciences are cleansed (cf. 1 Pet 3:20-21).
Again in Isaiah:
“I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.” (Isa 44:3)
God also tied together water and the Spirit in Ezekiel 36:24-28, where water is for cleansing and a new heart is given as God says, “I will put my Spirit within you…” Passages like these lie in the background of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, where Jesus told him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). This is more than baptism per se (though it is involved). This is the Lord’s way of saying that He is the One who cleanses. He is the One who makes one clean and gives the Spirit. Baptism is a submissive act of faith on our part, but it is “the powerful working of God” providing forgiveness, redemption, and a new life (Col 2:11-12)—the “washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” whom He pours out (Titus 3:5-6).
These Old Testament passages also undergird Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14; cf. also v. 10; Isa 12:3; 49:10; Rev 7:16).
Also note John 7:37-39 where “Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
Again there is connection between water and the Spirit. The living water flows from within one’s heart who has received the Holy Spirit. When Isaiah invites his hearers to “come to the waters,” he is inviting them to partake of a new life through the Spirit. Jesus provides this living water for our blessing: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt 5:6).
By the end of Revelation, the connection is complete. In God’s presence, the river of the water of life flows. On either side of the river is the tree of life, bearing fruit. “The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Rev 22:2). The invitation to come to the waters is issued again:
“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price” (Rev 22:17).
This points back to Isaiah 55, where the offer to partake of the water is for those with “no money.” “Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price,” for the price is paid. This section of Isaiah tells us about the suffering Servant. Through Christ we are redeemed “not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Pet 1:18-19). Money won’t buy it, but it wasn’t cheap.
“Come to the waters” is the biblical invitation to partake of the salvation of the Lord. Therefore,
“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isa 55:6-7)
Praise God, for “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isa 12:3).