...so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as captives and the Ethiopians as exiles, both the young and old, naked and barefoot, with buttocks uncovered, the shame of Egypt. Isaiah 20:4 NRSV
Having slaves naked, especially when being sold, is nothing new. But the book of Isaiah drives home the psychological outcome of this nakedness: shame. And when you have shamed someone, you have removed their spirit of dignity and protest.
What God does, however, is to not just have Isaiah tell people that this is going to happen to the Egyptians. God instructs Isaiah to show them. God tells Isaiah to take off his clothes and remove his sandals. Isaiah had to walk with no shoes on and wear no clothes for three years. This wasn't just Lady Godiva for one afternoon. God had Isaiah live the life of shame so that the people understood what would happen to the country that Judah was depending on to save them. God was trying to get Judah to see that God was their savior because the people they were putting their hope on would be shamed and sold into slavery.
Having Isaiah live a life of shame reinforced the seriousness of what was going to happen to the Egyptians. Perhaps Judah saw Egypt as strong and impenetrable. Egypt seems powerful and trustworthy. For the prophet to walk around naked showed the people that Egypt was vulnerable to attack and exile. Instead of placing their hope in Egypt, the people needed to place their hope in God. Only God is that all-powerful. Only God is strong and trustworthy. God is neither vulnerable to attack nor to shame.
In what have you placed your hope?
God, you ask us to trust you. You are powerful, strong and trustworthy. Help us to place our hope and confidence in you alone. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims