In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod, (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it; At the same time spake the LORD by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe from thy foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot. And the LORD said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and Ethiopia; So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt. And they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory.
In these few verses we see Biblical examples of four “principles” we’ve heard all our lives.
First, some quick background: the kingdom of Judah fears an attack from the fierce Assyrians who are growing in power as they conquer all their neighbors. But, instead of trusting in the LORD their God, Judah sought protection from the kingdoms of Egypt and Ethiopia. In this chapter, the LORD tells Isaiah to walk around in nothing but a scant loincloth as he warns His people not to trust in man for their protection.
Now here are those four principles — in “fortune cookie” form, if you will:
Father Knows Best
Secular historians had long claimed that Sargon was a figment of Isaiah’s imagination, as they could find no record of him in the Assyrian chronicles. That is, until the mid-1800s, when archaeologists discovered inscriptions with King Sargon’s name all over them. Not only did he found the greatest dynasty in the Assyria Empire, but his attack mentioned in Isaiah 20:1 is recorded on the inscriptions.
Regardless of what skeptics, scoffers, and the unbelieving world claim to the contrary, your Bible is ALWAYS right.
Looks Can Be Deceiving
The kingdoms of Egypt and Ethiopia looked mighty, but they were both defeated by Assyria twelve years later, just as Isaiah had prophesied.
Oftentimes, the ones we’re so impressed with turn out to be a huge disappointment. That’s why the LORD tells us never to put our trust in man (Jer. 17:5).
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
The most effective warnings usually depict the results of the dangers they warn against. Think of the car wrecks in ads against drunk driving, the laryngectomy patient urging you not to smoke, or the prophet showing you how your potential allies will be led away captive naked and barefoot.
We don’t need to stroll around in our underwear, but we should try to be walking object lessons of God’s Word to us. It’s easy just to talk about God, but do others see Him at work in your life?
No Pain, No Gain
Singing in church and serving at a soup kitchen may give you a warm, fuzzy feeling, but they’re not the spiritual workout we might think they are — because they’re easy; they don’t hurt. How do you think the holiest man in Israel felt when the LORD told him to take off his priestly robes and preach in a loincloth? God sometimes calls us to do things that are difficult or embarrassing; things that require us to forsake our comforts and conveniences; things that will subject us to ridicule or even hostility. Those are always the things that bring about our greatest spiritual growth.
Originally published for The Carpenter’s House