March 28 I Wednesday
“And the LORD said to me, ‘Name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. For before the boy knows how to say ‘My father’ or ‘My mother’, the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria.” —Isaiah 8:3-4
Isaiah’s firstborn son was named Mahar-Shalal-Hash-Baz, which basically means, “Assyria is going to conquer Israel—now hasten it up and speed the conquest.” His brother, Shear-Jashub, had only a slightly more optimistic name, meaning “the remnant will return.” Their names were a constant reminder to the people of their coming chastisement, but Isaiah also had a meaningful name. His was one of hope, meaning “God is salvation” or “God saves sinners.”
Prophets often had their lives shaken up in their devotion to proclaiming the word of the LORD. Speaking of the testimony represented by his own name and the names of his children, Isaiah writes, “We are signs and symbols in Israel from the LORD Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion” (Isaiah 8:18). Prophets were not just messengers; in many cases, their names and actions proclaimed God’s messages as well.
In Ezekiel 4, God told Ezekiel to build a model of Jerusalem. He had to act out a siege on it, and then lay on his left side, turned away from the city for 390 days, one day for each year Israel would be in Assyrian captivity. The turning away symbolized that God would temporarily turn away from His people’s plight. Ezekiel could not receive any help during this time, and had to cook his food on fires made from cow excrement, all the while still lying down. When this finished, God told him to do the same on his right side for 40 days, one day for every year Judah would be exiled to Babylon. To do something like this is almost unimaginable, yet the prophets were so devoted to God that they gave up their reputations and the chance at normalcy to proclaim His message.
We also have a message to proclaim to the world; one of salvation and life through Jesus Christ, but how often do we limit what we are willing to do to proclaim it? Life with Christ is the most rewarding experience we will ever have, but it may come at the cost of our reputations or the appearance of normality to those around us. God will probably not ask us to lie on our sides for a year or name our children oddly, but Jesus does tell us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). This behaviour will make no sense to nonbelievers, but sometimes this is what it takes for them to start asking questions about why we do what we do. Our lives are often the first testament to Christ’s love that others will see so may we be willing to act beyond what the world perceives as normal for the sake of building Christ’s kingdom.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for letting concerns over my reputation overpower Your calling for me. Grant me an obedient heart, willing to act according to Your instructions. Thank You, Lord.
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