Your Prayer and the Odd Man of God
by Joseph Franks
Ezekiel was traditionally trained. Yes, as the son of a preacher man, he was groomed from a young age to serve God and God’s people in and throughout the sacred temple. From a child, he was acquainted with the ancient ways, and these rites and rituals were near and dear to his heart. He loved the smells and bells of formal Temple worship for this had been foundational in his upbringing.
Ezekiel was theologically straight. His sermons were not different from those of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk; they were filled with indictments of sin, warnings of judgment, calls to repentance, and salvific promises of God. Yes, like all faithful preachers of the Word, Ezekiel received his message from God. Then along with God’s message, he also received a heavy burden to express God’s truth to God’s people. This resulted in his going and delivering his sermon with straightforward passion for God, God’s truth, and God’s friends.
Ezekiel was required to become methodologically flexible. First, he was called to be flexible in regards to his location. According to God’s decree and providence, he was forced to minister outside the Temple, outside the Holy City, even outside the chosen nation. Ezekiel set up camp along the Chebar Canal in modern-day Iraq, and there he communicated God’s Word to God’s scattered people. Secondly, Ezekiel was called to be flexible in regards to presentation. By divine edict, he was called to preach the Word and partner it with dramatic presentations. For example, God required that he lie prostrate on his side for 390 days. Later he was called of God to build and destroy a model kingdom, then ordered to eat food cooked over dung. Ezekiel was commanded to shave odd portions of his body and dispose of his hair in odd ways. Finally, God even required that he refrain from displaying sorrow at the passing of his wife. Yes, Ezekiel’s ministry was regulated by God. There is no doubt he was called to do God’s work in God’s prescribed way. However, notice this my friends, God called this minister to have a ministry that was to be a bit “out of the box.” He was called to conform to God’s will; he was called to conform his message to God’s Word, but he was also called not to conform to ancient tradition, contemporary coolness, or personal pleasure. Ezekiel’s calling was sure. His training was legit. His theology was straight. His eyes and heart were fixed on God. And his ministerial methodology was very, very odd.
Ezekiel proved to be ministerially faithful. It is not recorded that this minister built great buildings. It is not recorded that he witnessed an incredible revival as a result of his preaching. There is no reason to think people stood and applauded his God-supplied message or God-directed manner of doing ministry. However, what is recorded is this — Ezekiel was God’s man. He showed himself to be one who heard God’s voice, heeded God’s instructions, and uncompromisingly delivered God’s message. Through it all, he proved to be another exemplary model of a man of God doing God’s work in God’s way. He was odd, but he was the odd man of God.
Friends, do you pray for such an odd minister in your life? Oh, please stop and do so today!
Pray that your minister will regularly and clearly hear God’s truth as found in God’s Word. Pray that he will be able to rightly divide the word of truth and present it line-upon-line with relevant application and without error.
Then pray that he will be able to deliver it to you in the manner prescribed to him by his Lord.
You also must intercede for him that he will not be a self-pleaser or a man-pleaser. Instead, pray that he will, with single-minded devotion, keep his eyes fixed on Jesus though his ministry be neither fun or statistically profitable.
Oh friends, pray, pray, pray! Such a minister is odd, and even if he be such today, he may not be so tomorrow. This single-minded focus cuts against the natural and sinful flesh of each and every man of the cloth. You see, regardless of external posturing, all ministers have a default interest in ease, applause, prosperity, profitability, power, and fame. Sure, some minsters are willing to part with such as long as they see Kingdom-progress being made. It becomes a bit easier to sacrifice for God and his church when revival is experienced and discipleship is evident. However, it is the rare man of God who will part with all these things — ease, applause, prosperity, profitability, power, and fame — when ministry hurts and he does not see the statistical Kingdom-progress he so cherishes.
Therefore friends, storm the gates of heaven in prayer for your minister right now. Pray that he will be like Samuel, Elijah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist, Jesus, Stephan, and Paul who only had eyes for their Heavenly Father. Pray that the words to the famous hymn, “Take the world, but give me Jesus,” might apply to your man of God. Pray that he finds and experiences so much affection from his Savior that he needs none from you. And know this, if God answers your prayer, it will go well for you and your family. For when your minister has such single-minded devotion, when he is so incredibly odd, he will become of great value to you.
Friends, what you need is not an ancient, man-pleasing traditionalist. What you need is not a contemporary, man-pleasing chameleon. What you need is not a normal, self-serving ministerial politician who strokes your back as long as you stroke his. What you need is a Christ-focused, Spirit-instructed leader. What you need is an odd man of God, and what he needs are your fervant prayers.