Scripture reading – Isaiah 20; Isaiah 21

Click on this link for translations of this Bible study.

The volume of prophetic messages in Isaiah may be challenging, but I hope you will persevere with this “Heart of a Shepherd” devotional series. For some, the statements threatening God’s judgment might seem inconsequential; however, they are factual, and archaeology has only amplified the integrity of the Scriptures. Remembering that God is immutable and the nature of man has not changed, we can be confident the Old Testament Scriptures are relevant and applicable to us in this century.

Today’s Scripture reading will consider Isaiah 20-21. This is the first of two Bible studies and is taken from Isaiah 20.

Isaiah 20 – A Prophetic Message Concerning Egypt and Ethiopia

The names of two prominent men are recorded in Isaiah 20:1. The first was Tartan, the captain of Assyria’s army during the reigns of two kings: Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:17) and his successor, Sargon. The historical setting for this chapter was the siege of Ashdod, a Philistine seaport on the Mediterranean. 

Egypt and Ethiopia’s Humiliation (Isaiah 20:2-5)

Egypt and Ethiopia’s Humiliation (Isaiah 20:2-5)

At the time of Assyria’s siege of Ashdod (Isaiah 20:1), the LORD commanded Isaiah to “Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, And put off thy shoe from thy foot” (Isaiah 20:2b). The prophet obeyed the LORD and for three years was seen “walking naked and barefoot” (Isaiah 20:2c).


Isaiah’s message and physical appearance certainly garnered the attention of God’s people (although he was not entirely without clothes, he would have worn his undergarments and was considered naked without his “sackcloth” Isaiah 20:3).

Isaiah’s appearance was illustrative of his prophecy from the LORD. The prophet’s message warned Judah of how Assyria humiliated the Egyptian and Ethiopian captives. The proud citizens of those countries were led away, “Young and old, naked and barefoot, Even with their buttocks uncovered, To the shame of Egypt” (Isaiah 20:4). Egypt and Ethiopia’s humiliating defeats should have given cause for Judah to turn to the Lord for help in her time of need (20:5).

A Prophetic Warning to Judah (Isaiah 20:6)

Isaiah’s prophecy foretold the cry of “the inhabitant of this isle” (probably referring to Judah, Isaiah 20:6). The use of “this isle” was perhaps because of Judah’s coastline on the Mediterranean Sea. After receiving news of Egypt and Ethiopia’s defeats and humiliations and knowing an Assyrian invasion was imminent, surely Judah should have asked: “Whither we flee for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria: And how shall we escape?” (Isaiah 20:6).

* A second Bible study will follow and consider Isaiah 21.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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