Reading through the Bible together
In his days, Isaiah had the Ethiopians and the Egyptians as power nations nearby, in spite of their ups and downs. In those days, Hezekiah became King of Judah. Then the Lord gave a message to Isaiah: “Go loosen your sackcloth from your hips and take off the shoes from your feet” (v. 2). We know that Isaiah undressed to almost nothing, called “naked” and walked like this for three years.
The Lord spoke again (v. 3), and said that Isaiah did this “undressing” as a “sign against Egypt and Cush” (at that time the ruler of Egypt was the Ethiopian or Cushite king Shabako). Whether Isaiah had to walk like this all the way to Egypt and back as an illustration to them, is not certain. The main thing is that Isaiah was a symbol of what was to happen to them when Assyria would come and lead many Egyptians away as captives. Assyria would take away “the young and old, naked and barefoot with buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt” (v. 4).
Many faithful people had migrated to areas out of harms-way. They had relied on the safety and security of the Ethiopians in Egypt (v. 5). “Then they shall be dismayed because of Cush (Ethiopia) their hope and Egypt their boast.” The faithful people fled there but according to Isaiah’s vivid illustration from the Lord, Egypt will not provide them the security they needed and they will say: “this is where we fled for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria.” With the bad news of Assyria taking over, they asked, “how shall we escape?” (v. 6).
Isaiah and the Lord’s message is clear: Do not build your hope on worldly powers. Built your hope on the Lord. In the previous chapter we learned that the Egyptians will be divided and fight among themselves as a power in the end-time shortly before the Coming of the Lord. And in this chapter they learned about Assyrian power when its commander came and reduced the power of Egypt.
Thus, between the disaster of Isaiah’s day and the end-time troubles of political powers, one thing is clear: the worldly powers cannot offer any human security and lasting peace. This must come totally from the Lord.
We know that at times it is so easy to rely on our own safety systems to protect us. Lord, we need to be reminded of the necessary link with You. You are our safety, the shadow from the heat of the last days. We need You, Lord. Help us. Amen.
Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea