Question: "What does it mean to "seek the Lord while He may be found" (Isaiah 55:6)?"
Answer: In Isaiah 53, the prophet describes the ordeal of the Messiah who would bear His people’s iniquity and suffer on their behalf (verses 4–6). In the next chapter, Isaiah predicts the coming glory of Jerusalem and the restoration of God’s people, who would know the “everlasting kindness” and compassion of God (Isaiah 54:8). Then, in Isaiah 55, the prophet extends God’s invitation to partake freely of the promised blessings (verses 1–2) and experience God’s “everlasting covenant” (verse 3). This promise of restoration, forgiveness, and blessing would have been especially encouraging to the future generation of battered and bruised Jews returning from their exile in Babylon.
Through Isaiah, God compassionately called the surviving remnant of Israel to spiritual renewal. As part of that renewal, they would have to thoroughly abandon their sinful lifestyles and return to Him to receive the forgiveness the Messiah made possible (Isaiah 53). They would have to “seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6).
Now was not the time for Israel to drag its feet. There would be a window of opportunity and no room for delay. With the instruction to “seek the Lord while He may be found,” Isaiah stressed the urgency and seriousness of God’s summons. The prophet Amos communicated the same sense of urgency, repeatedly issuing the Lord’s appeal to “seek me and live” (Amos 5:4–7, 14–15). Dedicating our lives to the pursuit of God is a matter of life and death. If we procrastinate, the opportunity to respond to His invitation may run out.
This theme of exigency recurs in the Parable of the Great Banquet (Luke 14:12–24) and the Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22:1–14). Just as Isaiah called the remnant to come to the Lord’s table to eat and drink (Isaiah 55:1–2), Jesus urged His primarily Jewish audience to “eat at the feast in the kingdom of God” (Luke 14:15). Through the parables, Jesus explained that the invited guests rejected the Master’s offer, and thus the door of opportunity was closed to them. Since those invited refused to come, everyone in “the streets and alleys of the town, . . . the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame” were invited to come and dine (Luke 14:21).
Proverbs 1:20–33 illustrates how God’s patience with fools—those who refuse to listen to the voice of Wisdom—eventually runs out: “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention. You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered. So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone, and anguish and distress overwhelm you. When they cry for help, I will not answer. Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me” (Proverbs 1:24–28, NLT).
When we hear the voice of the Lord calling us to seek Him, inviting us to fellowship at His table, we must respond immediately while there is still time. “For God says, ‘At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.’ Indeed, the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2, NLT). We are not promised tomorrow (Proverbs 27:1; Luke 12:16–21). As the psalmist urged, “Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found” (Psalm 32:6). Jesus taught us to stay focused and seek God’s kingdom before and above all else (Matthew 6:33–34).
Seek the Lord while He may be found means to take up our cross and become His disciple (Mark 8:34) at this very moment, today. The command is accompanied by another command and a promise: “Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon” (Isaiah 55:7). We must repent of our sin and return to the Lord right now because there will come a day when our time is up. Scripture tells us to get ready, for the day of the Lord’s return will come suddenly, “like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2; see also 2 Peter 3:10).
While we still have time, before it’s too late, we must seek the Lord. God graciously promises to be found: “You will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29, ESV). Over and over throughout the Bible, God calls His people to repent, return to Him, and seek the Lord while He may be found (Deuteronomy 30:2–3; Leviticus 26:40–42; 2 Chronicles 15:4; Jeremiah 29:13–14).