A prophet of God is like a person on stilts. They often look silly; they’re vulnerable; and moving forward can prove rather cumbersome. Yet they have a better view than all those below them. This image shows Isaiah counting the rings in large trees which represent God’s faithfulness in Israel’s history. Ring after ring he sees this theme: God keeps His promise even though the ones He loves are continually breaking His heart.
A long line of ungodly kings turned the Israelites toward the empty promises of the world around them rather than toward the Lord. Isaiah was God’s voice from the death of King Uzziah to the reign of King Manasseh under whose persecution he was probably martyred. Isaiah’s messages confronted rebellion yet were sprinkled with grace, showing punishment for sin as preparation for glory.
Early coal mines did not have ventilation systems, so the miners would take a canary down with them. Canaries are very sensitive to methane and carbon monoxide which made them ideal for alerting the workers when there was a dangerous gas buildup. A dead canary meant a speedy evacuation. Many individuals throughout history have been compared to these little birds, for they had a willingness to experience life’s danger without compromise in order to let others know of unforeseen dangers. Isaiah was one of those canaries, which is the reason for his unique headgear.
Lastly, the baboon with its hand stuck in a box represents how stubborn Israel was, in contrast to God’s faithfulness and patience. In an arid land, baboons know of ‘secret’ sources of water men cannot find. To find water, tribesmen would hide edible seeds in a hole in a rock with a narrow opening, so that a baboon could see. Overcome by curiosity, the baboon would reach in and try to pick them up, but with a full fist, it couldn’t get its hand out.
In its obstinacy, the baboon refused to let go, and the tribesman could then catch the baboon. The tribesman would wait until the baboon was so thirsty that it couldn’t help but run straight for water, and let it go and follow.