A Prophecy Against Egypt and Cush
1 In the year that the supreme commander, sent by Sargon king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and attacked and captured it- 2 at that time the LORD spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot.
3 Then the LORD said, “Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, 4 so the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old, with buttocks bared—to Egypt’s shame. 5 Those who trusted in Cush and boasted in Egypt will be afraid and put to shame. 6 In that day the people who live on this coast will say, ‘See what has happened to those we relied on, those we fled to for help and deliverance from the king of Assyria! How then can we escape?’ “
(I shared this during a sermon recently, which can be downloaded here)
Throughout the ages, humankind has always waged war against itself. And in every war, we do the same thing to prisoners of war and refugees: we strip them naked. Aztec frescos depict naked prisoners of war being paraded to their execution, and this passage describes the Assyrians doing the same to the Egyptians and Cushites. In World War II, there are terrible images of naked herds of people being led to death in gas chambers. And even closer to home, we have the startling images of Abu Gharib prison, naked men forced to form human pyramids, smeared with human feces.
This is just what humans like to do to each other.
In the Bible, nakedness represents shame. You see this right from the very beginning of time, that as soon as Adam and Eve disobey God and eat from the tree of knowledge, they feel shame at their nakedness. And this is not the sexy nakedness we see everywhere in fashion magazines and in the movies, it is the nakedness of a prisoner of war: humiliating and shameful. Shame is the consequence of sin, represented by nakedness.
But when Christ was crucified, he was naked, as was the practice of the Roman authorities – and so, as he hung naked upon the cross, it is our shame that was crucified there as well. On the cross, we see Christ taking on our sin and our shame and crucifying them there, and what are we given in return?
Galatians 3:27 – “For you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself in Christ.”
1. When was the last time you felt ashamed of yourself? Do you think that is how God wanted you to feel, or feels about you?
2. What most often makes you feel ashamed? Why do you think that is?
3. What does it mean in your mind to instead by clothed with Christ, rather than to be in sinful nakedness?