Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Naked Prophet

Quick quiz question: Which prophet wandered round Jerusalem naked for three years?

It seems like a rather odd thing for God to ask someone to do.

Go and loose the sackcloth from your waist and take of your sandals from your feet.

The prophet walked about with no clothes on for quite a while. How embarrassed must he have been - you can imagine the media fuss nowadays if John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York had cut up his clothes and not just his dog collar! There was no hiding place for this cheeky prophet.

And yet, there was a point to his streaking. The visible word was explained by the spoken word of the LORD:

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 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 fled for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria! And we, how shall we escape?' (Isaiah 20:3-6)

Not just Isaiah's words, but also his lifestyle was prophetic, and showed the glory of the word of God. His nakedness was a warning for those who trusted in men, rather than in God.

How do our words and lifestyle match up? Are we supremely concerned with God's glory, or with our comfort and security and 'respectability'?

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