One of the strangest of prophets was Ezekiel. His mystical visions and living illustrations stand out as some of the more eccentric and disturbing messages you will find in the Scriptures.

Let me illustrate the hardship associated with receiving God’s call to be a prophet. At the age of 34, Ezekiel received a forewarning from God that would illustrate the coming destruction of Jerusalem.

Ezekiel 24:
15 The word of the LORD came to me: 16 “Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears. 17 Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead. Keep your turban fastened and your sandals on your feet; do not cover your mustache and beard or eat the customary food of mourners.”
 18 So I spoke to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died. The next morning I did as I had been commanded.
 19 Then the people asked me, “Won’t you tell us what these things have to do with us? Why are you acting like this?”
 20 So I said to them, “The word of the LORD came to me: 21 Say to the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am about to desecrate my sanctuary—the stronghold in which you take pride, the delight of your eyes, the object of your affection. The sons and daughters you left behind will fall by the sword. 22 And you will do as I have done. You will not cover your mustache and beard or eat the customary food of mourners. 23 You will keep your turbans on your heads and your sandals on your feet. You will not mourn or weep but will waste away because of your sins and groan among yourselves. 24 Ezekiel will be a sign to you; you will do just as he has done. When this happens, you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.’

As a young husband, Ezekiel experienced the death of his wife. God let him know before it took place and then instructed him to deny grieving publicly. He would cry privately, but not participate in the normal cultural expressions of grief. This would be unnerving to those who looked to Ezekiel for direction from God.

Ezekiel's behavior in such a strange and unnatural manner had the desired effect. The people felt that there was some message for them involved in it; and so they consulted him the following day. His news was devastating: the Holy Temple itself would be profaned. That meant the total destruction of Jerusalem. Many of the captives had left their children in Jerusalem; and here they learned that all of them would be killed. The loss of their children, their beloved capital city, and the Temple itself meant that, just like the case of Ezekiel, "They would have the desire of their eyes taken away." "Then it was the desire of Ezekiel's eyes that was taken away; but now it will be the desire of the people's eyes which will be taken away; and the loss will be too grave for tears."[i]

The life of a prophet did not come with comfort and safety. They were not only called to preach, but to illustrate God’s message with their own lives. They were most often part of communities and had disciples who served with them.

[i] International Critical Commentary, p. 271.