This chapter of Isaiah has fascinated me for years.
For three years, this man walks around naked. Three years. I’ve been married for just over three years.
I can’t imagine being naked this whole time. Going to the market, naked. Hunting, naked. Tending the livestock, naked. Coming in for dinner, naked. Every single activity, for three years, naked.
Can you imagine what the rabbis said at the temple? Before all this happened, Isaiah goes in to talk with the local rabbi. “Rabbi, I think the Lord is calling me to do something drastic. Could you help me?”
“Sure,” says the rabbi. “What do you think the Lord is calling you to do?”
“Well, uh…I think He wants me to walk around naked.”
The rabbi is on the floor laughing. “That’s hilarious Isaiah. Now, tell me what you really think. What’s the Lord really telling you?”
Isaiah, a bit ashamed, starts, “That is what I really think. I’ve heard the voice of the Lord before. And I think He is really telling me to go naked for three years.”
“And why would the Lord tell you something ridiculous like that?”
“He said it’s for a sign against Egypt and Cush,” the prophet answers.
The rabbi argues with Isaiah, claiming that the Lord would never call someone to so drastic a measure. It’s absurd. Especially when you consider it’s something that would keep Isaiah from entering synagogue. But as they argue back and forth, Isaiah becomes ever more convinced that this calling was truly from the Lord. He goes home, tells his wife (and kids), and they are dumbfounded. The next day, Isaiah follows through with obedience, and his wife and children are completely ashamed. They go to their extended family’s home, and the wife’s parents ask where Isaiah is. She doesn’t know what to say.
Eventually, Isaiah becomes the laughingstock of the whole town. The rabbis tell everyone to stay away from him. His own family lives estranged from him for a time. His extended family gives up on him. The neighbors have to put up a fence. The whole town mocks him behind his back. Isaiah has lost any respect he had ever earned.
And he lives this way for three years. Naked. Estranged. Ashamed.
All because he believes the Lord gave him this command. And for all we know, God did. In faith, we believe this happened. For it was a sign against Egypt and Cush.
What a bizarre little section of Scripture, eh?
**Please remember, much of this post is not in the biblical account. I am simply using my imagination to try to help us understand what kind of obedience this command required. Following God’s direction isn’t always easy or exciting.