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Isaiah 20:3-6

Fallen Expectations

3 And the LORD said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia; 4 So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt. 5 And they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory. 6 And the inhabitant of this isle shall say in that day, Behold, such is our expectation, whither we flee for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria: and how shall we escape?


Yahweh's explanation for Isaiah's symbolical actions completes the twentieth chapter. For three years Isaiah had been performing his prophetic duties while barefoot and naked. It must have caused quite a stir among the people of Judah to see their most respected prophet walking about naked, regardless of whether he was totally naked or in his undergarments. Isaiah himself may not have known the reason for his actions, until the end of the three years. Therefore, these words, spoken by Yahweh through the prophet, must have attracted a lot of interest.

Isaiah's actions were to be a sign and a wonder, a sort of red flag warning and a miraculously accurate prophesy against Egypt and Ethiopia (Cush). These two nations were inextricably linked at that time, being merely two geographical regions of the same empirical dynasty. When it became evident that Assyria was the enemy and not an ally of Judah, Judah turned to Egypt for help. Many of the people of Judah had fled to Egypt for sanctuary from the Assyrians.

God's prophecy, dramatized in the nakedness of Isaiah, was that Egypt was going to be at the mercy of the Assyrians and of no help to the people of Judah. The proud people of Egypt and Ethiopia, young and old alike, would be taken away as captives. They would be stripped of their fine garments and jewelry. Barefoot and naked, with their buttocks exposed, they would be led away as a broken and defeated nation.

Instead of trusting in Yahweh, the God who had protected and cared for them for many centuries, the people of Judah preferred to place their trust in Ethiopia and Egypt. Now, they were shown what their expectations would bring them. They would be frightened to see what the Assyrians did to their protectors and they would be ashamed for Egypt, which had previously appeared to be such a glorious and powerful nation.

Edward Young asks why the prophet refers to Judah in the last verse as "this isle" (or "this coast"). Most of the other commentators brush it off as just another way of referring to a nation that has a coast. Others refer back to the root of the word, which means, "any habitable spot." Still others think that Isaiah is referring to the Philistine city, Ashdod. But, Young asks why Isaiah didn't simply name the people to whom he referred.

Young's answer is that the people of Judah, God's people, were acting like the people of the coast, the Philistines. They were placing their trust in people, instead of in God. Therefore, they were not fit to be called God's people. They were merely the "people of the coast."

Young likens this to Paul's words to the Corinthian church. "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ... For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)

So they cry out, "If Egypt has fallen and all of our expectations are vanished, how will we be able to escape being conquered by Assyria?"

How often have each of us acted like babes in Christ who have refused to grow up? Are we fit to be called Christians who are born of the Spirit and walk in the Spirit, or should we be called carnal, people of the coast? Many of our churches and denominations are full of strife, divisions, and pride. In fact, I am finding that there are many, many pastors whose ministries are unfruitful because of their pride. They walk as men, Philistines in the eyes of God.

Walking in the Spirit requires prayer, humility and submission to the will of God. Only when we learn to place all of our trust in Him can we truly walk in the Spirit and live fruitful, productive lives in the kingdom of God.

Before The Throne:

Take it to the Lord. Ask Him, "Have I been walking as men? Have I been living like a Philistine, pumped up with pride and trusting in men and worldly things?" Only the Spirit of God will give you an honest answer. Pray about what you will need to do to correct your faults. Let the Spirit guide you and be ready to submit to His instruction. The things that you have been trusting in are just like the Egyptians and Ethiopians in Isaiah’s prophesy. In the end, you will be left with only fear and disgrace. Christ must be your only answer. Increase your commitment to Him every day.

For Further Study:

(v.3) ** three. Nu 14:34; Eze 4:5,6; Re 11:2,3; ** a sign. Isa 8:18; ** upon Egypt. Isa 18:1-7;

(v.4) ** shall. Isa 19:4; Jer 46:26; Eze 30:18; ** with their. Isa 3:17; 2Sa 10:4; Jer 13:22,26; Mic 1:11; ** shame. Re 3:18

(v.5) ** afraid. Isa 30:3,5,7; 36:6; 2Ki 18:21; Eze 29:6,7; ** their glory. Isa 2:22; Jer 9:23,24; 17:5; 1Co 3:21;

(v.6) ** isle. Job 22:30; Jer 47:4; ** whither. Isa 28:17; 30:1-7,15,16; 31:1-3; Job 6:20; ** and how. Mt 23:33; 1Th 5:3; Heb 2:3;

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