Naked Prophet

Doing what God wants might be weird sometimes.

During the year that the city of Ashdod fell to the Assyrians, God told the ancient Hebrew prophet Isaiah to do something, well…odd. He told him to take off the sackcloth he had been wearing—signifying mourning—and to go about with no clothing on at all.

For three years.

After those three years of being naked, God then had him announce to the people: “Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, so 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. Those who trusted in Cush and boasted in Egypt will be afraid and put to shame. In that day the people who live on this coast will say, ‘See what has happened to those we relied on, those we fled to for help and deliverance from the king of Assyria! How then can we escape?’” (Isaiah 20:3-6)

When God asks me to do something, he usually doesn’t explain it to the neighbors. And there’s no guarantee that when you tell the neighbors, “I’m doing what I believe God wants me to do,” that they will believe you or agree with you. Chances are, Isaiah’s neighbors and friends frequently asked him about his behavior and probably told him, “get some clothes on, man.” They probably gossiped about him, and wondered, “Do you suppose old Isaiah’s finally gone, you know, bonkers?” And yet, despite the peculiarity of God’s request, and despite the reactions of those around him, Isaiah was faithful to the vision he had from God.

Thankfully God’s never asked me to do anything quite so strange as poor Isaiah. Though I suppose becoming a writer comes close.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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