March 5, 2023
The past few weeks we finished the book of Ezekiel. He was exiled to Babylon with other Israelites and received word from God that he would be a prophet. The first 24 chapters he told of God’s judgement on Israel and the fall of Jerusalem. He also spoke of the judgement that occurred on 7 other nations. Once Jerusalem had fallen, Ezekiel’s message was one of hope (chapters 33-48). We will focus our study on chapter 37 this week.
37 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”
In this text, the LORD was giving hope to the Israelites when they felt hopeless. Their nation had been assaulted by Babylon, and those who were left were in exile.
The great many bones symbolized the entire Israelite community that was in exile. The dryness of the bones symbolized the hopelessness and despair of the people. They felt they were far gone and beyond rescuing. They had brought about this discipline. God had Ezekiel prophesy to the bones about coming back to life. The bones came together, as did the tendons and skin, but there was no breath. So God had Ezekiel prophesy to the breath, and breath entered the people and they were alive.
The word for breath in Hebrew is “ruah”. This is the same word used in Genesis 1:2 when talking about the Holy Spirit. “2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Thus, the breath that entered the people was the Spirit of God. They were dead in their sins, but the Spirit of God brought them back to life.
This vision came true 70 years later when the Jews went back to Jerusalem. It further came true when Jesus came to the earth to die for all so that we may live. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 says, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.”
Before becoming a Christian, the Ephesians 2:1-10 says that we are dead in our sins. But through Christ we are alive. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Like the people that Ezekiel saw in the valley, we were dead, but by the Spirit’s power, we can come alive in Christ.
D. Marion Clark preached, “It is by the power of God that the work of redemption was accomplished, and it is by the power of God that the dead are given the power to believe and be saved.”
Question: Do you feel spiritually hopeless and dried up like the Israelites? Do you feel that you are too much of a sinner for God to redeem you? Have you backslid? Guess what? So did the Israelites, and yet God gave them life and a future.
Ezekiel 36:25-26 says, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
God loves you and wants a relationship with you. There is nothing you have done that He won’t cleanse. In John 11:25-26 Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”
God did not give up on the Israelites, and he has not given up on you. Trust in Him, and he will take your dry bones and bring them back to life.