Isaiah 20 God’s Servants

Although Egypt would see a day in the future when God would heal them for now they will suffer the consequences of putting their hope in their power and their resources and for not turning to God. God is going to ask Isaiah to do something out of the ordinary to grab the people’s attention.   Isaiah being a servant knew that whatever God wanted him to do. It is not unusual for God to ask His prophets to do things out of the ordinary and God did that to try and get people’s attention. Isaiah continues his plea with the people of Judah to not place their hope in anything or anyone else besides God. As a servant Isaiah’s focus was doing and saying what God told him to do and not just saying what the people wanted to hear. In our society we focus on ourselves and trying to figure out how to get our own needs met but Jesus tells us to focus on being a servant and meeting the needs of others first.

Mark 10:42-45 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,[d] 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave[e] of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

“Christianity is upside down and backwards” Elder Dan

Many times it is how we are perceived by the world that keeps us from following God fully or at least fully in some situations or around certain people.  What if God ask you to do something that to the rest of the world saw as foolish?  Would you serve God even if what He asked you to do did not make sense?  As we will see today Isaiah was willing to do whatever God asked him to do no matter how foolish he looked, how much people made fun of him or even if it cost him  all of his dignity.

Isaiah 20:1-6 In the year that the commander in chief, who was sent by Sargon the king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and fought against it and captured it— at that time the Lord spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and loose the sackcloth from your waist and take off your sandals from your feet,” and he did so, walking naked and barefoot. Then the Lord said, “As my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Cush,[a] so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptian captives and the Cushite exiles, both the young and the old, naked and barefoot, with buttocks uncovered, the nakedness of Egypt. Then they shall be dismayed and ashamed because of Cush their hope and of Egypt their boast. And the inhabitants of this coastland will say in that day, ‘Behold, this is what has happened to those in whom we hoped and to whom we fled for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria! And we, how shall we escape?’”

1)   Servants Obey

“Go “is a command demanding immediate action. God asked Isaiah to go and show the people what was going to happen to them if they followed the Egyptians and so Isaiah unclothed himself to show them what the Egyptians were going to do when they were captured by the Assyrians. When a country would invade another country and win the battle, they would strip the prisoners and walk them back to their country to humiliate them and to keep them from escaping as easily.  Think of how difficult this would have been for Isaiah who was a man who was known as being a prophet of God.  Some of the people surely called him crazy or at least misunderstood him and what he was doing.  Whether or not he was totally unclothed or if he appeared in front of certain people and councils to demonstrate God’s message is unsure but more than likely he would not have been fully unclothed and he would not be unclothed for 3 straight years since he would not have been able to worship and he would not have survived the cold. Regardless of the frequency or the length it would have been a difficult assignment and one which would have cause Isaiah to ignore his pride in order to obey God.  One of the reasons we do not practice immediate obedience is because we do not have a servant’s mentality and so we are wise in our own eyes.

Proverbs 3:7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

To fear the Lord is not a frightening or scared response, although that can happen, it is more of a reverence of who God is that it makes who you think of Him more than yourself. We are always thinking how things effect ourselves, but servants could not regard their needs right away but had to focus on the needs, desires and wishes of their master. Too many times we try and outthink God instead of just being obedient to what He has told us to do.

Most people want God if God is going along with their plans and their wishes. Sometimes we place people and their opinions above the opinion of God.  Will they laugh at me? Will I lose my friends? What will people say behind my back? We ask these questions because our focus is on ourselves instead of God We find our significance as a person in what others think of us instead of what God says about us and therefore we are not faithful servants. Obedience to the things of God truly demonstrates if you are a servant of God because if you allow other things to keep you from the will of God then you are a servant to those things. One of the last things Jesus told His disciples was a “Go” statement which meant He wanted them to have immediate obedience.

Matthew 28:19-20  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

This command to “Go” has not changed since Jesus left the earth and everyone who calls themselves a follower of Christ is commanded to have immediate obedience to this. It is not our job to save people but God wants to use us in other people’s lives to tell them the truth about Jesus Christ because 2 Corinthians 5:20 says that God is making His appeal through us.

2)   Servants Point people to God

“Sign” A visible representation A street sign might tell us of a crosswalk ahead, or a curve in the road as a visible sign of what to expect in the near future.  Isaiah un-dressed just like a defeated and captured people would dress to warn them of what would happen to the Egyptians and Cush because they did not trust God.  Isaiah is reminding the people that they will look just like him as they are captured and are marched back. Isaiah’s life told a story and his life pointed people to God. Is your life a sign that points people to put their trust in God?

“…the beliefs and practices of most people who call themselves Christians do not look like what we’d expect from people who are actual Disciples of Christ.” (Christians in the age of outrage, Ed Stetzer, pg. 64)

The problem is that many people identify as Christ followers or Christians, but they are Christian in name only but not in their actions. Most people who call themselves Christians do not even know what they believe about Christ and what He did on the cross on our behalf.  Many people who call themselves Christians are putting their hope in things that the world is putting their hope in.

“Nominal Christians are like marathon runners who sign up for the race, got their official number, and bought the fancy running gear- but never went out and did the actual training ahead of time. They can’t run the race because they have not prepared. They haven’t developed habits of faith- like prayer, Bible Study, and worship- that would transform them into true disciples. They are not part of a community that can sustain and inform their world view. They have the T-shirt but not the ability to complete the race. So they run in vain. (Christians in the age of outrage, Ed Stetzer, pg 66)

We must remember that the Christian life is not for us to live but for Christ to live it through us. When we take a list of things and say we are going to be “Better Christians” what happens is we become just like the religious leaders who took the disciplines of the faith and made them into their own accomplishments. The Christian life is impossible for you to live but the good news is God did not expect us to do it by our own power, strength or determination.

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

When will you be God’s witnesses? After you have received the Holy Spirit who empowers you because what God asks you to do, He empowers you to do. If you know God is calling you to do something, then you will know He will give you the power and ability to do it. Our part is to always work in conjunction with God by disciplining ourselves in prayer, Bible Study and also being a part of a Bible believing fellowship. God has given us our abilities but we are to be good stewards of them by developing them for His Glory because God has left us here on earth to point others toward Him

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[a] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

3)   Servants warn of future judgement

Portent against Egypt and Cush”

Portent: pointing to a future event of consequences. Egypt is going to be defeated and although it may seem that Egypt, now along with the alliance of Cush, would be strong enough to beat Assyria Isaiah is telling them that they will be destroyed so do not go with them.  Isaiah message was the opposite of what human wisdom would have been telling them to do.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death

The way of the world can be tempting to follow and can even seem right at times but we are now servants of God, so we listen to what He says even if it does not make sense to us.  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says we have been bought with a price, so we need to remember that we are servants of God and that all our lives belong to Him and Him alone.  There are consequences when people reject the ways of God and Isaiah as a servant of God was doing all he could to show them their fate if they followed in the path of Egypt and Cush. Egypt would let down all those who put their trust in them just like the things of this world let down those who put their hope in them. All religions offer a way of salvation but they all offer it through doing more good deeds than bad and in the end they lead to destruction because only Jesus is the way to God. (John 14:6)  

Acts4:11-12 This Jesus[a] is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.[b] 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men[c] by which we must be saved.”

The reason churches have used the term saved is because we are saved from something. Most people do not see themselves as having to escape judgment because they see themselves as good people and they think their good deeds will outweigh their bad deeds. (Islam belief)

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Notice that it says believes and then obeys. Why would I obey someone I do not believe in?  We do not like talking about the punishments of God for rejecting Him, but the reality is that God has placed them in His word as a warning and a plea for us to turn to Him.  Just like the people of Judah had to learn to trust God for salvation and not turn anywhere else so we must tell people that salvation is found in no other religion than through Jesus Christ.  We must warn people, just like Isaiah did, that if they do not put their trust in Jesus Christ then they are held captive by the enemy.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 And the Lord’s servant[e] must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

 “As much as we are to speak boldly for the Lord without compromise, we are to do so with the attitude of meekness, gentleness, and humility. We are never to be harsh, abusive, overbearing, unkind, thoughtless, or pugnacious.” John Macarthur

Pugnacious means to be  quick to argue, quarrel or fight. Our main reason for being this way is so that they come to repentance (change direction) If your motivation is to win an argument instead of win the person then you have the wrong motive.  We are trying to help people who believe a lie to come to their senses and see the truth.

Correcting means that we all cannot be right. Either Jesus is right, or He is wrong but we cannot all be right. We are all called to inform and educate people so they can know the truth.

Escape the snare of the devil: people do not see that they are in bondage to Satan. The people did not see the Egyptians and Cush being carried off as prisoners and people in our day do not see themselves as going to be carried off to destruction. Isaiah 61:1 says that year of the Lord is to not only heal the blind and the lame but to set the captives free. (Jesus quoted this verse in Mark 4 and announced this was being done in their presence) Jesus freed us from our captivity by buying us with His death and resurrection.

What is your view of God?  What is your view of yourself?  Are you being an obedient servant by pointing people to God through your life and through your words?  We have a responsibility to tell others the truth regardless of how we are treated. Have you been set free from the captivity of Satan? Acts 16:31 says, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

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