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20 In the same year that the Assyrian field marshal sent by Sargon II, who was king in Assyria at that time, attacked and successfully defeated Ashdod, Isaiah (Amoz’s son) was told by the Eternal to deliver a message by acting it out.

It is said “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Too true: in order to communicate a spiritual message, sometimes God uses a physical action—something everyone can see or hear—much like a picture. In this instance the actions of Isaiah become the picture God wants His people to see. The prophet himself becomes the focus of attention as he demonstrates in shocking ways what God is intending to do to Israel’s southern neighbors, Egypt and Ethiopia. God is able to speak with clarity because all attention is focused on this prophetic drama that is being played out before them.

Eternal One: Take off all your clothes of mourning, and take off your shoes too.

Of course, Isaiah did that, which left him utterly naked, head to toe.

Eternal One: My servant Isaiah has walked around naked and barefoot for three years as a sign that Egypt and Ethiopia will be stripped of everything. Assyria will take away Egypt’s captives and Ethiopia’s exiles, young and old alike, naked and barefoot as slaves. The Egyptians’ shameful impotence and their bare behinds will be on display for all to see as they are driven away by the Assyrians. They will be mortified and humiliated, for they depended on each other, confident that Egypt and Ethiopia could withstand Assyrian assault. In the face of it, people along the coastland, like Ashdod, will say, “If countries like those that we counted on for support and security are falling to the might of Assyria’s king, we don’t have a chance!”

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