In the year that Tartan came to Ashdod, when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him, and he fought against Ashdod and took it, at the same time the Lord spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, "Go, and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet." And he did so, walking naked and barefoot. (Isaiah 20:1-2)
I think the most sobering thought a person can have is the realization that God knows what you're thinking.
Here's the scene: Assyria was on the move, and Ashdod, the great Philistine city, had been captured by the Assyrian commander Sargon. The word was spreading fast; Assyria is coming, and they're giving no quarter. Judah was right in the crosshairs of this massive army.
The Lord had warned Judah not to seek protection from Egypt or Ethiopia, but it's quite possible that the king was still holding out hope that one of these two countries, or perhaps both, could protect Judah from the Assyrians.
Why do I think this? Because God instructed Isaiah to do something radical to get their attention; He told Isaiah to walk around barefoot and naked for three years as a sign that within three years the Assyrians would defeat Egypt and Ethiopia, and would lead them away into captivity, naked and ashamed.
In other words, neither Egypt nor Ethiopia could protect Judah from the Lord's correction. There was only one way out of this situation; Judah needed to turn to the Lord.
There's a definite application for the Christian today. When one of God's kids strays, God doesn't forget about them. He doesn't write them off and move on. God is always seeking to draw the wayward son or daughter back to Him, and He'll use any means necessary to accomplish that task.
#1 - God wants to get our attention
I remember back when I was a rebellious teenager, I used to tell mom and dad "just leave me alone, let me live my life the way I want to!" Funny, they never took my advice! Why? Because they loved me, and they knew that the direction I was headed was not going to turn out well.
If we consider how much God loves us (Romans 8:31-39), then it shouldn't surprise us that God is not going to leave us alone when we're heading in the wrong direction. The Lord may not send a naked prophet to get our attention, but I've found that He will seek to warn us. He'll speak to us by His word, the conviction of His Holy Spirit, the warning of others, and if all else fails, God will use circumstances, yes even difficult circumstances, to get our attention.
#2 - God will remove all other options
Perhaps you've experienced this (I know I have), where the circumstances get hot, and we start looking for a "way out." And sadly, the first choice usually isn't "I think I'll repent to the Lord…" No, we'll try every other option except turning back to God.
But of course, the Lord knew we'd do that (remember He knows what you're thinking), and so He'll remove those options. Just like He removed Egypt and Ethiopia as options for Judah's rescue, God will remove our options, one by one, until there is only one option left - Him!
#3 - The Naked Truth
While one might have the notion that God isn't being fair, or that He's rigging the game, I think it bears considering this fact: God is ALWAYS the best option! No matter how far we run, no matter what sins we've committed, there is no option that offers more love, more grace, more forgiveness that that of turning back to God.
I'm reminded of the opening chapter of this great book:
"Come now, and let us reason together," says the Lord, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land." (Isaiah 1:18-19)
As I write this post, a song came up in my playlist - "Thank You Jesus" by Hillsong. I can't think of a better close...
Grace that flows like a river Washing over me Fount of Heaven, love of Christ Overflow in me
Thank You Jesus You set me free Christ my Savior You rescued me (Thank You Jesus - Hillsong)