The Sign Against Egypt and Ethiopia
The Sign Against Egypt and Ethiopia
1 In the year that Tartan came to Ashdod, when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him, and he fought against Ashdod and took it,
2 at the same time the LORD spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet.” And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.
3 Then the LORD said, “Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia,
4 so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.
5 Then they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation and Egypt their glory.
6 And the inhabitant of this territory will say in that day, ‘Surely such is our expectation, wherever we flee for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria; and how shall we escape?’”
Up to this point, we know little of Isaiah the man. We know that he was married, had two sons and was a prophet to Judah. We also know, through his prophecies, that he had a concern for both the glory of God and for the salvation of sinners. Incidentally, this should be our main concern and focus of life as well. We live for God's glory, and our heart therefore must be evangelical by nature as we strive to be used by Him for the salvation of sinners. As to the man Isaiah, we will get a more detailed glimpse of his character here in chapters 20 and 21.
Ashdod was a Philistine city, and had looked to make alliances with Egypt and Ethiopia to avoid the onslaught of Assyria. This is the reason that Egypt and Ethiopia were addressed by God's prophet in chapters 18 and 19. It is here that God had His prophet appear in a rather unusual state (. . . "the LORD spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet.” And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.") I think we have all probably had that dream where we show up somewhere public in the dream and for some reason we are wearing no clothes (at least I hope I am not somehow deranged and am the only one to ever have that dream).
Yet, for Isaiah, this nakedness was no dream. It became his reality. Here, we learn that Isaiah the man was obedient and, like Paul in the days to come, considered all things worthless when contrasted to Christ. God's point was graphic - the Egyptians and the Cushites would be led away naked and barefoot by the Assyrians. Yet, God's message was not for these pagan foreigners but, instead, was for King Hezekiah and Judah. He wanted them to trust in Him, and not to rely on worldly power that ultimately will prove frail and futile. ("Then they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation and Egypt their glory. And the inhabitant of this territory will say in that day, ‘Surely such is our expectation, wherever we flee for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria; and how shall we escape?") The psalmist knew the answer: "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm." [Psalm 20:7-8] Isaiah walked naked, as a reminder of our humble dependence on God and God alone.
Heard 'Round the House:
Luke (age 12) and I often throw around one of those little hand size plastic footballs in the house. (Don't tell Jill!) Last night we had finished but, due to my great maturity, I decided to nail him in the bun area with a hard throw while he wasn't looking. It wasn't too long after that when the football whizzed toward me in retaliation. It is here that this feeble conversation was exchanged:
Luke: I didn't throw it very hard since you are an old man and all.
Old Man: Luke, did you know that "old man" is an expression that used to be used for some one's father? Like, my "old man" is over there . . .
Luke: I think I have heard that before. It doesn't seem like it is very respectful.
Old Man: You're right. It really isn't very respectful.
Luke (clarifying, and emphasizing his respectfulness toward me): When I said it, I really was meaning that you were old.