Under the orders of Emperor Sargon of Assyria, the commander-in-chief of the Assyrian army attacked the Philistine city of Ashdod.
Three years earlier the Lord had told Isaiah son of Amoz to take off his sandals and the sackcloth he was wearing. He obeyed and went around naked and barefoot. When Ashdod was captured, the Lord said, “My servant Isaiah has been going around naked and barefoot for three years.
This is a sign of what will happen to Egypt and Ethiopia.
The emperor of Assyria will lead away naked the prisoners he captures from those two countries. Young and old, they will walk barefoot and naked, with their buttocks exposed, bringing shame on Egypt.
Those who have put their trust in Ethiopia and have boasted about Egypt will be disillusioned, their hopes shattered. When that time comes, the people who live along the coast of Philistia will say, ‘Look at what has happened to the people we relied on to protect us from the emperor of Assyria! How will we ever survive?’”
- Isaiah 20:3 Hebrew Cush(ites): Cush is the ancient name of the extensive territory south of the First Cataract of the Nile River. This region was called Ethiopia in Graeco-Roman times, and included within its borders most of modern Sudan and some of present-day Ethiopia (Abyssinia).
Sargon II was king of Assyria from 722 -705 B.C. and this event happened in 711 B.C. Isaiah graphically reminds Judah that they should not count on foreign alliances to protect them.
God's command to Isaiah was to walk about naked for three years, a humiliating experience. God was using Isaiah to demonstrate the humiliation that Egypt and Ethiopia would experience at the hands of Assyria. But the message was really for Judah. Don't put your trust in foreign governments or you will experience this kind of shame and humiliation from your captors.
God asked Isaiah to do something that seemed shameful and illogical. At times we may be asked to obey God in ways we don't understand. We must obey God in complete faith, for He will never ask us to do something wrong.