Isaiah was a Stripper

What You’ve Missed…
* Not much really.
* Some Psalms that are pretty good.
* I saw Prometheus.
* That was pretty good too.

Day 197
Daily Reading: Isaiah 18-23

I’d like to start this post by proposing a question to any Christians who are reading this. (Well, clearly I wanted to start this post by telling you I wanted to ask a question, but let’s not get picky.) If God told you to just live your normal life today, but to do it totally naked, would you?

“Oh God wouldn’t ask us to do that,” you might say. Oh really? Have you read Isaiah? “Oh, Isaiah didn’t walk around naked,” you might say. Oh really? Have you read Isaiah chapter 20?

“In the year when King Sargon of Assyria sent his commander in chief to capture the Philistine city of Ashdod, the LORD told Isaiah son of Amoz, ‘Take off the burlap you have been wearing, and remove your sandals.’ Isaiah did as he was told and walked around naked and barefoot.” (Isaiah 20:1-2)

“Oh, he was probably just in his house or something. That’s no big deal,” you might say. Oh really? Have you read verse 3?

“Then the LORD said, ‘My servant Isaiah has been walking around naked and barefoot for the last three years. This is a sign – a symbol of the terrible troubles I will bring upon Egypt and Ethiopia.’” (Isaiah 20:3)

Yeah. That’s right. The dude lived totally naked for three years. Even a good streaker wears a solid pair of running shoes. But not Isaiah. He rocked the birthday suit, in its fullness, from top to bottom, day in and day out, for THREE YEARS.

I was talking to a friend about this, and they suggested the idea that times were different back then, with different cultural norms, and that Isaiah putting the family jewels on full public display wasn’t a big deal. But I beg to differ.

I think there are a few common threads uniting mankind through the ages, despite vast cultural differences, and one of those threads is actually the lack of threads. I’m pretty sure straight-up public nudity has always been discouraged for as long as people have lived in community. No one wants to see their butcher naked.

Which got me thinking. How the heck did Isaiah respond? It’s mentioned so casually in the Bible. Heck, it skips three years between two sentences. But think about it. Isaiah was a regular guy. A prophet and powerful man of God sure, but still, he’s human. Just like you and me. I have to wonder how he reacted.

I imagine him saying something like, “Uh, God, I can’t just be naked. I mean, what will people think? Also, I don’t really want to be naked. And, uh, isn’t being naked bad? Like, don’t you endorse purity and honoring the body and stuff? And uh, you also realize that if I’m naked, a bunch of ladies and kids are going to see my dong right? That can’t be good. Won’t I end up in jail? Won’t I end up in jail totally naked? That really can’t be good. And did I mention that women and children will see my dong?”

But apparently he went through with it. He just started living his life in the buff. Not in a nudist colony with a bunch of old fat guys who don’t give a rip anymore, but right out in the open, for all the world to see. And I imagine he continued his work, which was delivering the Word of God, which I imagine was kind of like street preaching.So now I’m picturing some crazy dude on a street corner, warning everyone about the coming judgment of the LORD, with his kosher sausage in full view.

I’m already horribly judgmental towards street preachers. If I saw someone preaching fire and brimstone on the street, and they were naked, I would think they were flat out crazy. I’m already not trusting what they say, and the fact that they don’t seem to be bothered that their twenty-first digit is swaying in the breeze only compounds that fact.

I have to believe it was the same for Isaiah. I have to believe people thought the guy was insane. That he needed help. Lots of help. I imagine people wrote him off as the local nut who thinks he hears from God, dismissing everything he said because they thought he was a deranged lunatic who dove off the deep end, leaving his sanity, and shorts, far, far behind.

So of course Israel doesn’t listen to his warnings. Would you? I know I wouldn’t have. Which has me thinking again. What if the crazy street preachers I judge are actually hearing from God? What if they’re just as reluctant as Isaiah might have been, but go out any way, knowing they’re going to be verbally crapped on, repeatedly, by almost everyone? What if I’m the idiot, not them?

Another thought: What if it wasn’t a crazy stranger on the corner, telling everyone they’re going to hell, that God asked to get naked? What if it was someone you knew and trusted? What if it was your pastor, or best friend? Or your dad. What if they started living naked because they said God told them to? (I promise I’m not trying to get anyone to think about the people they know naked. I’m just trying to make a point, and that point involves tons of nudity.)

Another, different thought: What if it wasn’t someone you knew who was making their “private” business very public? What if God asked you to do it?

Isaiah letting it all hang out takes the idea of being a person of faith to a whole new level. If you think about it, Isaiah really goes for it here. The guy risks his entire reputation big-time, throwing caution, and his undies, to the wind.

Crazy stuff.

12 thoughts on “Isaiah was a Stripper

  1. oh my word, mac mitchell.
    1) kudos on the various euphemisms for male genitalia; they definitely elicited some loud laughter from me.
    2) sometimes, God isn’t speaking figuratively; you are that figure… like the way Jesus didn’t die figuratively, he literally died. how does one know how to take God at his word?
    3) “What if it wasn’t someone you knew who was making their “private” business very public? What if God asked you to do it?” — that is a GOOD question…

    • 1) Thank you. Cody helped. We’re both wondering how our accountability partners will respond upon seeing our Google search for those euphemisms, in our weekly Internet reports.

      2) That’s what I’m wondering. Especially in the books of the prophets I’m currently in. When is the prophesied destruction and revitalization of Israel metaphorical and when is it literal? I need to start looking into study resources.

      3)I don’t really like my own honest answer to that question. Makes me wonder how much I truly mean it when I sing phrases like, “Take my heart, and make it yours,” or “Everything I have is yours”. Has me thinking hard.

  2. Yowza. I would not make a good naked preacher. I don’t want to be one, but the fact that I think that way almost (almost) has me wishing that I did want to be an exposed evangelist. Meaning that I would do anything for God; not just talk about him, but be completely vulnerable and uncomfortable for as long as He asked me to be.

    P.S. Those tags will bring in some unsuspecting hits 🙂

    • I’m hoping those tags bring in some unsuspecting readers. So far, tags related to Willy Wonka from a post months ago have been the most popular search terms. The internet is truly a freaky place.

      And yeah this one really got me thinking about what I am truly willing to do if I was actually asked to. Much different than just singing about it.

  3. I just read this part in Isaiah too! I think our one-year Bible reading plan is pretty similar. And also Micah 1, where he also talks about walking around naked. I was like, what’s with all the naked prophets? You’re right, it really made me think. It made me see where I am quick to judge people. Our God is crazy and unpredictable, and the people he sends to teach his truths are pretty much ALWAYS not the people we expect. And the WAYS he teaches his truths are not what we expect (Hosea is a good example). We serve an uncivilized God, that’s for sure.

  4. Hillarious, or it is ? Why did God tell Isaiah to do that? Was it to show the ritualistic religiously dressed how naked they actually are before God?

    • I think you’re on to something there UG. I wonder how many Christians who say they’d give up anything and everything for God would actually be willing to do what Isaiah did…that’s really what I’m wanting Christians to think about.

      But I think your response is definitely one of the points God was trying to communicate to us through Isaiah o this one.

  5. The passage is around 750 – 700BC. Isaiah undressed to a level equal to the humiliation of ancient POW’s (read the whole Chapter 20) – took the sackcloth off and remained in a skimpy undergarment that was very humiliating according to the culture of that time but at the same time it was a powerful visual cue to capture the attention of the nation of (Southern and Northern kingdom as Israel was divided starting with approx. 900BC) that wanted to ally themselves with Egypt and Cush (today’s Ethiopia and Sudan), but those nations were no match to the Assyrian empire that was on the rise. A summary of Isaiah 20 message to Israel in contemporary language would sound like: Israel do you want to ally yourself with Ethiopia and Egypt. Look they will be humiliated by the Assyrians and led captive in humiliating stripped down attire as you see me walking in,. I will walk like this for 3 years as a message for you: -maybe you will reconsider your alliances. And the historical truth is that in 672BC the Assyrians conquered Egypt and defeated the Ethiopian power (Kushite) that were controlling the Egypt at that time just as Isaiah was talking about 60 – 80 years earlier.
    For reference see:
    1. humiliated stripped Nubian POW’s 1,300BC (but not completely naked): http://www.bridgemanart.com/en-GB/asset/561953
    2. historical background for Isaiah 20: the regional politics involving the competing political forces of the time: 750BC-650BC – Egypt, Kush and Assyrians: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/sargon/essentials/countries/kush/
    CONCLUSION: I recommend you analyze the texts Biblical or otherwise in the geo-political historical cultural context they were written in. The Bible is not a historical book but it contains history also and what it contains is pretty accurate historically. But the Bible also contains an answer to origins and destiny and how shall we live in between. When you will see your vulnerability bore acutely in old age of you are luck and attain it, you will not look for straw men in the Bible to easily knock down and find a cheap justification for your lifestyle but you will have really serious questions of eternity. I recommend start early and resolve your destiny with God.

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