Did Isaiah Strip to His Underwear to Preach?
ISAIAH'S NAKED CUSH
“The Lord spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, ‘Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.’ And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot.” — Isaiah 20:2
Isaiah is the naked prophet. Was he totally naked when he preached? I think he was probably in his tunic, his underwear, but no doubt it was humiliating.
It seems improbable he would have done this constantly but in some way for three years Isaiah walked around in his skivvies and barefooted. He did this as a sign and portent against Cush (the larger area around Egypt), so that it would be known that the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old, "with buttocks bared–to Egypt's shame." (Isaiah 20:3-4)
These things the prophets did, such as walking around naked, are odd and difficult to understand. We'd get arrested today for such behavior. I'm not so sure it was popular then either. Maybe it shows how serious Yahweh was about what was going on in Judah.
Lord, I don't understand parts of your word. Help me understand or be content not to understand.
Today, fast from being embarrassed so easily. Look for ways to step out of your comfort zone to places God is showing you to walk. I'm not suggesting to walk naked!
Give an article of clothing to the poor this week by taking it to Goodwill or your local church. The clothes molding in your closet belong to the poor.
RESPONSE FROM DR. JEFF MCILROY
When this article was originally published in 2016, the late Dr. Jeff McIlroy responded like this:
Maybe this is off course for the verse, butt ... It makes me think of our culture, and if we are blind to some coming grand humiliations. For the ungodly patterns we have, unfathomable national debt, casinos/gambling as main street 'entertainment', prosperity preaching, gluttony, racism, etc. When might we see some kind of catastrophic implosion occur that leaves us as a nation slaves to someone else, and butt-bare for all the world to shame us and laugh at us?
GREG TAYLOR’S RESPONSE BACK TO JEFF
Butt you make a good point, Jeff! For us to ignore or write off the possibility in any case is foolish at best, catastrophic in ways you are mentioning, at worst. In other words, not talking about this, ignoring it, thinking "it could never happen to us" is not faithful to the prophecy. One of the things people wanted from prophets is the same thing we want today: preach peace to us! Don't preach devastation!
Greg Taylor, M.Div.
Greg Taylor is the preacher for The Journey. He holds degrees in Print Journalism from Harding University and a Master of Divinity from Harding School of Theology. Greg is working on his Doctor of Ministry at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where The Journey is located. Greg is married to Jill, who is a math teacher at Broken Arrow High School. They have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob, and of course they are very proud of each of what God has done in each one of their lives. Greg is author of several books you can order from your favorite bookseller.