Dry Bones! – Ezekiel 34:1-14

valley-of-dry-bonesJust before Ezekiel was called as a prophet of God, Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian army had invaded Israel. They overran Jerusalem and reduced Solomon’s Temple to ashes, and many of the Jewish people were taken back to Babylon as captives.

Counted among the Babylonian exiles is a young priest by the name of Ezekiel.
Ezekiel is called by God to be his prophet to his captive people in a time of confusion and hopelessness. The nation of Israel is divided, the temple has been destroyed, the people are captive and without leadership, their religion is constantly threatened. The nation of Israel is DEAD and in need of a resurrection.

Ezekiel is given a message to deliver that would give hope, but it would be delivered with the understanding that repentance would be called for and God would be a judge of both judgment and restoration(see Ezekiel 18:31-32 and 36:33-36).

With this understanding, we come to the Valley of Dry Bones, one of the most familiar prophetic passages in the Bible.
When I was a kid I remember singing Dem Dry Bones, not knowing it was a spiritual song based on Ezekiel 37’s prophecy : “Ezekiel connected dem dry bones…now hear the word of the Lord.”
Now, hear the word of the Lord.
Ezekiel 37:1-14 (NIV)
Verses 1-2
• The valley was FULL of bones
To Ezekiel it looked like the fulfillment of the prophesy of God’s wrath in Ez. 6:5-7
• The bones were VERY dry
Bleached Out, Scatttered About and Returning to Dust
As Ezekiel looks around him, it looks pretty hopeless!
But looks can be deceiving because God sees things we can’t see.
Nothing is hopeless when God has you in mind.
– the world? Not hopeless.
– the church? Not hopeless.
– our own spiritual conditions? Not hopeless.

Verse 3

• God reiterates the hopelessness of the situation – “This looks bad, right?”
• My answer would have been – “Are you kidding me, God? No. They’re old, dry bones and their scattered all over the place!”
• Ezekiel’s answer – He was a lot wiser than most of us, “O Sovereign God (Mighty, Powerful, Absolute and Supreme Ruler!), you ALONE know.”
Only God knows because only God is God, and he can make anything happen, even with old dry bones.
• God CAN do something with OUR old dry bones!

Verses 4-6
– God spoke right to the dry bones and told them to “Listen up! I, the one and only God with whom nothing is impossible have a word for you.”
– I think we’ve forgotten who we’re dealing with…no, wait, who’s dealing with us; GOD! The Sovereign LORD! We’re laid out before him, bleached out and torn apart, but he is speaking a word to us.

Bone in My Ear by Bruce Cockburn
There’s a bone in my ear
Keeps singing your name
Sometimes it’s like pleasure
Sometimes it’s like pain
It’s a small voice and quiet
But I hear it plain
There’s a bone in my ear
Keeps singing your name

Are we willing to listen? Because God has never stopped singing his name in our ears.

• How many times do you see the word “will” in verses 5 and 6? SIX.
– God is reassuring the people with his promises, propping up their shaky faith
– And these people of God needed their hopelessness to be overcome by a powerful, promising God
– Do you need to hear from your God that you are much more than you think you are – more capable, more unique, more faithful, more spirited, more creative…whatever it might be – you are much more than you think you are!

Verses 7-8
• The vision becomes more dramatic; it’s like God really showed up!
• Ezekiel sees the bones come together, no longer dry and useless
• He sees bodies appear before his eyes, but at this point, they’re only CORPSES (not zombies – don’t go there!)
• No breath was in them: ruakh, “spirit” – they were without God’s breath, His spirit was not in them

I can’t help but see a parallel in this part of the vision with the church today, as much as I may not want to…
• Is the church a body without a spirit?
• Are we claiming to be the body of Christ but aren’t really experiencing the Spirit, the very breath, of God?
• A Christian Corpse?
My answer – Not yet…BUT the danger is real
• If we let our faith become dry as old bones
• If we let our faith be torn apart and scattered
• If we let our faith be only a memory without passion!

Verses 9-10 The dead become alive by the breath of God; the Spirit of God raises and reanimates “the slain”
• And they become a powerful army, standing strong and filled with the Holy Spirit!
• That’s true today and we need to recognize that reality
• God doesn’t want us to be passionless corpses – he wants us to be a mighty army, filled with the Spirit and wearing the armor of God, standing on our feet and ready for battle, to overcome evil with good.

Verses 11-14
• The hopelessness of the Israelites is so strong within them that they have a hard time giving it up and reigniting their faith in God, but God doesn’t give up on them
• He is determined to bring them back to life, to spring them free from the grave of despair and reestablish them as His faithful people, and God will not be put off!
• Again – “I will” and “you will” (twice) – God says, “This is going to happen; surrender yourselves!”
• We need to realize that God is lovingly pursuing us, and he will not give up!
• He wants us to come out of our dead situations, out of our cemeteries of worry and wantonness and powerlessness.
• He wants us to be ALIVE in him…FOR HIM!

This story has some powerful draws to it…

The Draw to Repentance
• …of our lack of faith
• …of our waywardness
• …of our dryness
Romans 10:8-11 (NIV)
8…”The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

The Draw to Restoration
• …to spiritual health and wholeness
Ezekiel 37:8
Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.
John 10:10 (NIV)
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
• …to a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit
Psalms 51:10-12 (NIV)
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

The Draw to Renewal
Titus 3:3-7 (NIV)
3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

I would much rather be an heir “having the hope of eternal life” than dry bones in a valley of hopelessness, wouldn’t you?

What will it take for us to rise up and be the church, part of the vast army of God, that we are called to be? It will take each of us being willing to let God have HIS way with us that we might be restored and renewed. It is about making sure that we have been saved by Jesus and that we are now choosing to live for him. When we are sure of that then we can be sure of God’s blessing.

About playfulnessandpurpose

I'm a sixty-plus Christ follower who has been pastoring the same church for 25 years, married to the same wonderful woman for 44 years, and is still discovering the wonders and hidden mysteries of this life. My hope is that I may encourage you to look at life with a sense of "playfulness and purpose."
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Dry Bones! – Ezekiel 34:1-14

  1. Pingback: Joy and Ezekiel – Contempt | The Noontimes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s