A Sign Against Egypt and Cush
In the year that the commander in chief, who was sent by Sargon the king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and fought against it and captured it— at that time the LORD spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and loose the sackcloth from your waist and take off your sandals from your feet,” and he did so, walking naked and barefoot.
Then the LORD said, “As my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Cush, so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptian captives and the Cushite exiles, both the young and the old, naked and barefoot, with buttocks uncovered, the nakedness of Egypt. Then they shall be dismayed and ashamed because of Cush their hope and of Egypt their boast. And the inhabitants of this coastland will say in that day, ‘Behold, this is what has happened to those in whom we hoped and to whom we fled for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria! And we, how shall we escape?'”
Isaiah 20 tells us the Lord called Isaiah to walk barefoot and naked for three years as a visual declaration to Egypt and Cush of what was to befall the. Yet, I also think that this is an appropriate text for ministry. In 1 Corinthians 1:18ff Paul calls the gospel “foolishness” to those not saved. Also, in 4:9-13 he describes himself as a man “sentenced to death”, “a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men”, “fools”, “weak”, “held…in disrepute”, “we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless”. Finally, in sum, he says “we have become and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things”. Isaiah was made a spectacle because of the message he was to proclaim.
But, the LORD’s purpose was not to shame him – though in the eyes of pagans an unregenerate Israel he was – it was to declare God’s message of judgment and call men to repentance. It was a vehicle of calling men to himself. It was, in short, a redemptive shaming for Isaiah. Those who are called to be followers of Christ share the shame of the prophets. To a lost and dead world we are as those who wander the streets in nakedness. Yet, our shame before the world ought not be because we have laid ourselves bare. We do not act on our own and in foolishness only to conclude we share in Christ’s shame. We are to be naked as we live and declare God’s message. His Word shall expose us. By declaring our dying and rising God the world shall consider us idiots. Yet, they cannot see the glorious robes in which we are dressed in Christ. We are naked to the world but robed beautifully in Him.
How are you dressed today?