The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones, “Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord.”‘” So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.”‘” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
The Old Testament is fantastic. Stories of war, love, deliverance, ghosts, lions, bones coming back to life…if you have ever become bored with the Scriptures, just jump back into the historical narratives of the Judges and Kings. You’ll loose yourself for hours!
While out in the desert last week, we pulled off to take a picture. This is the picture:
Awesome, right? You can probably tell that I am standing on a hill to get the best perspective of the bikes, lake and cliff face. Just below me were the glaring white bones of a very large dead animal. It looked exactly like every western movie that pans through the dry sand, with the glowing ribcage reaching into the sky, and wind and tumbleweeds blowing through.
As I climbed over the bones to ascend the hill, I started singing over our helmet intercoms “Them bones, them bones gonna walk around…” which, even though we teach the song to our children to educated them on the bones of the body, is a reference back to the miracle (or vision, depending on your interpretation of the story) God preformed in the valley through Ezekiel. I even joked about whether God would call that animal to life…
The nation of Israel at the time was scattered and in slavery throughout the Middle East region. God had delivered them from Egypt, brought them through the wilderness (via forty years of wandering) to Israel where He ruled them as their Lord and appointed judges. Then they wanted a king, so they had three: Saul, David and Solomon. Solomon’s sons split the kingdom and the succession of kings for both kingdoms was quite evil (with an occasional good guy in there). God promised through his Law, which He gave to them while they were wandering in the wilderness, that if they were obedient and honored Him that He would protect them, but after generations of rebellion He turned them over to their enemies. It was during this time of captivity that the prophet Ezekiel was used by the Lord, and God gave him the sign of the dry bones as a promise that He would one day restore the nation of Israel.
One of my favorite parts of this story is when God asks Ezekiel if these dry bones can live. Perhaps if God had transported me physically or in a vision to such a place, I would have had more faith, but I would have said “heck no” . But Ezekiel knew God’s power and ability, and seeing the bones as they were he gave the best answer possible: “Only you know, God” (my paraphrase).
This is a picture. It is a promise of God to restore the nation of Israel. But it also is a picture of us. The Bible says that apart from God, we are “dead in our transgressions” (Eph 2.5). Dead. We are dry bones. We are dry, brown leaves being blown about in the wind – having an abundance of movement but no life. It is “God who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which did not exist” (Rom 4.17). He is so gracious. If you have Spiritual life, it is because God saw your helpless, dead, state and breathed life into you. He called you into Spiritual existence. He gave Spiritual birth to you. One does not choose to be born. He just is.
Let us reflect today on the greatness of God who, out of nothing created the entire universe. From dry, dead bones built an army, and in Spiritually dead heathens births new life. If you have Spiritual life today, thank Him for His mercies He has poured out on you and your soul. And if you know someone who is dead, pray for him! Continue to share for “how then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” and trust that the Lord is the only one able to give life where there is none (Rom 10.14).
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.