When I read about the exploits of godly men in the Old Testament, my heart burns. These servants were so burdened for the cause of God’s name, they did powerful works that baffle the minds of most Christians today.
Those saints of old were rock-like in their refusal to go forward without a word from God. And they wept and mourned for days at a time over the backslidden condition in his house. They refused to eat, drink or wash their bodies. They tore out clumps of hair from their scalp and beard. The prophet Ezekiel even lay on his side in the streets of Jerusalem for 365 days, continuously warning of God’s coming judgment.
I wonder, where did these saints get the spiritual authority and stamina to do all they did? They were men of a different sort, servants of a totally different type from those we see in the church today. I simply can’t relate to them and their walk. I know I’m not totally of their kind. And I don’t know a single Christian who is.
Something about this troubles me. The Bible says these men’s Old Testament exploits were recorded as lessons for us: “All these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). Their stories are meant as examples, to show us how to move God’s heart, or how to bring a corrupt people to repentance.
So, were these saints a special breed? Were they supermen, with a pre-determined destiny, endowed with supernatural powers unknown to our generation? Not at all. The Bible states emphatically that our godly forebears were people just like you and me, subject to the same passions of the flesh (see James 5:17). The fact is, their examples reveal a pattern for us to follow. These men possessed something in their character that caused God to lay his hand on them. That’s why he chose them to accomplish his purposes. And he’s urging us to seek that same character quality today.
I’m troubled by another difference between these men of old and most Christians today. We live in the most wicked time in history. Our present generation is many times worse than that of Nineveh or Sodom. We’re more stiff-necked than ancient Israel, more violent than in Noah’s day. If ever there was a time the world needed godly saints of intense faith, it’s now. And I believe God is seeking the same kind of devoted servants today. He’s looking for men and women who’ll strive to know his heart, do mighty exploits in his name, and bring entire societies back to him.
Think about it: why would God raise up men of deep brokenness and holy pursuits in times past, and yet neglect to do the same today? Why would he arbitrarily leave the neediest generation in history without holy voices? We know God hasn’t changed. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever (see Hebrews 13:8). And we serve the same Lord as those past generations. So, where are the intense servants today who will carry his burden and speak for his cause?
Finally, what troubles me most is that we possess something those godly men of old didn’t have. In these last days, the Lord has poured out on us the gift of his Holy Spirit. Therefore, our generation has access to more sustaining power and heavenly gifts than ever. In short, we’ve been given everything needed to rise up in faith as men of another sort. And God is calling for just such servants to step out and be set apart.
The question for us is, why did God touch and anoint these particular men so powerfully? Why were their ministries able to change the destinies of entire nations? The Bible reveals how these “men of another sort” became so enraptured with the Lord and his cause. And it sets forth how their path can be tread by any servant of God.
Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it” (Ezra 7:10).
Daniel speaks of being broken: “I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: and I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession” (Daniel 9:3-4).
Jeremiah spoke of engaging the heart to seek the Lord (see Jeremiah 30:21).