X Æ A-Xii is the name Elon Musk, the maverick billionaire who recently financed the first private trip into space, tried to call his son. Isaiah, the prophet, was told by God to name his child Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, meaning quick to plunder, swift to spoil (Isaiah 8:1–4). He was told before his wife was pregnant to register the name with the priest and write a sign about it. Later, Isaiah was asked by God to take his clothes off (Isaiah 20:1-4) and live naked for three years (I am pleased God has not called me to be such a prophet!).
Why something so bizzare? The child’s name and the prophet’s nakedness were signs for others. Before Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz could say “Daddy” or “Mummy”, the king of Assyria would plunder Damascus and Samaria. Isaiah’s nakedness was a sign to Ethiopia and Egypt that Assyria would lead away naked captives from those two countries in shame.
Signs give people direction. Being a sign suggests people are watching. Sadly, Syria, Israel, Ethiopia and Egypt did not take any notice of the signs given them.
God’s prophetic people are a sign. “A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of 12 stars on her head” (Revelation 12:1).
In Bible prophecy, the woman is a symbol of God’s people, the church (Ezekiel 16; Ephesians 5:22-33). In Revelation, the rest of the world and universe watch the woman deal with persecution, false teaching and popularity thrown at her by the devil. But the church survives, even thrives, because of God’s support and intervention.
People are watching us to see how we are handling the pandemic lockdown, how we treat our antagonistic neighbours, whether we protest.
Whether we like it or not, we are signs of God’s work in our lives. In the end, obedience to God’s commandments and holding the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 12:17) are the two important characteristics.
With God’s support and intervention may we be good signs!