Impact on Jesus Week #24
Isaiah 20. A very short chapter, only 6 verses, but full of meaning and impact.
It may sound a little weird, but God tells Isaiah to take off his sackcloth and his sandals. For three years Isaiah walked around "stripped and barefoot." This prophet of God literally walked around naked for Three Years because God told him too. His actions were meant to symbolize a warning to Egypt and Cush of a coming disaster.
How difficult this must have been for Isaiah. Walking around naked for anyone to see. I am pretty sure this would have been quite embarrassing. Isaiah certainly would have been ridiculed and mocked. Laughed at and scorned. Yet, Isaiah did this because God told him to. He was willing to be obedient, despite the mockery and shame it would bring. It was Gods way of delivering the message the people needed to hear.
I imagine Jesus listening to this story and maybe having some reasonable questions, like: Why did Isaiah have to be naked? Why would God ask him to endure that shame and embarrassment? Couldn't the message have been delivered another way?
As Jesus listen and learned from this short section from Isaiah, it would all become so real to him. Imagine as he discovers his true identity as Gods Son and remembers the glory he left behind. Imagine how "stripped" Jesus must have felt in our flesh. Imagine the mockery and scorn he heard from Satan and other spiritual beings as he walked on earth. Then, as he approached the cross, this story surely was in the front of his mind. After three years of walking around in his flesh speaking the message of Gods Kingdom and His love for us, Jesus would be strung up naked for the world to laugh at and mock. He would endure shame and be scorned for his life and especially upon his death.
We know that Jesus asked "Is there any other way?" As a man he would not want to be stripped before all men. However, he also learned from Isaiah that obedience was a necessary component in delivering a message, and Jesus had a huge message to deliver.
Just as when the three years were over for Isaiah, God delivered his warnings to Cush and Egypt and "Those who had put their trust in them." God had a message to deliver through his Son and his shame on the cross!
As Jesus hung naked, stripped of all dignity and manliness, he was delivering Gods message to us. He was saying, "To all those who put their trust in others and not God, you too will be stripped and put to shame! However, for all those who put their trust on me as their Savior, I am going to be stripped and put to shame in your place so you will never have to endure the suffering of standing ashamed before God! To those who flee to any one other than me for help, you will find yourself in a place of disaster, but to those who flee to me, you will find a Deliverer!
Such short passages that Jesus learned from, but what Huge impact they had!
May we, like Isaiah, like Jesus, be willing to be obedient, even if the world will laugh at us, mock us, scorn us, and treat us shamefully. May we put obedience to God above all things, knowing that through our obedience, God has a message to deliver to those around us. May we count this world, including acceptance and popularity, as nothing more than dung, in order to obtain to the high calling of obedience and following Jesus!
I find it interesting how in Isaiah there are these "nuggets" that just pop out while reading. I am again learning that any attempt on my behalf to be comprehensive in sharing these Impact moments would be futile. There are so many and time just simply would not allow. Things like 22:11 where it is pointed out the Jerusalem is in trouble, and they worked hard to save themselves, "but you did not look to the One who made it or have regard for the One who planned it long ago." Impactful words of warning for Jesus as he faced many trials and opportunities to try and save himself, but he learned to always "look to the One" by reading of the failure of those in Jerusalem to look to God for their salvation.
Today though, the story that finishes chapter 22 really grabbed my attention. Verses 15-24, Isaiah tells of a specific message that the Lord sent him to deliver to a steward in charge of the palace in Jerusalem. His name was Shebna, and evidently he was making big plans for himself to be honored. However, God sends word that his position would be stripped away from him and given to someone else, Eliakim. God says:
"I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open."
These are mighty strong words for the one who had been given the privilege to steward the house of David, yet had chosen to seek his own honor instead. He had put his desire for himself above his task of taking care of the "house of David." Because of this, another was going to rise in his place and God himself was going to lift him up and honor him.
To Jesus, this must have been such an amazing story of encouragement. Shebna represented all the failures of another one who had been given the task to steward the "house of the Lord," Lucifer. Lucifer had chosen to seek his own honor and lift himself up to a place of majesty. He had been given the task of caring for Gods people, but his greed and selfishness had caused him to seek his own glory. Because of this, God was going to strip away from him all that he had been given charge of and give it to another, Jesus. Jesus was going to be clothed in honor by God himself. Jesus was going to be given the Key to the "house of David" and here he learned that whatever he opened, no one would be able to shut. And whatever he shut, no one could open.
What an impactful moment for Jesus as he reads what some might consider a random story about two men, but as Jesus grew in wisdom and knowledge, he understood that this story was about so much more. And when he understood Who was lifting him up and who was giving him the keys, God himself, Jesus knew he had nothing to fear because no one could ever stop God from doing what He purposes to do!
And the impact for me is so encouraging as well. If Jesus has been given the keys and no one can shut what he opens, or open what he shuts, then that means whatever he purposes in my life will be accomplished!
I wonder how comforting Isaiah 24 was to Jesus as he walked on earth?
The title for the chapter in the NIV is "The Lords Devastation of the Earth." So the word comfort and devastation may not seem to go together, but there is a connection.