May 12, 2014.
“The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then 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, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
Perhaps you have heard of the story of the dry bones coming to life by word of a prophet of The Lord God. If you haven’t heard the formal story, you’ve probably sang the children’s son “Them bones, them bones gonna, walk around” or the bone connecting song, which is in reference to this story. I am reading through the bible again and I have come to this chapter, so I thought it would be cool to highlight it and try to figure out some of what it may be saying. The story that comes afterwards seems to be a continuation of the message being preached and is a clear prophecy of the coming Messiah and his kingdom.
The story begins with Ezekiel being carried by The Lord, probably in a vision, to a valley full of dry bones. When he is asked if the bones can live, he gives a rather smart answer in my opinion. “Oh Lord, you know!” Ezekiel did not put God in a box. He knew the power of God, and he knew that if The Lord wanted the bones to live, they would live. After Ezekiel shows his trust in the Lord’s power, he is told to prophesy over the bones the word of The Lord. Even in the Old Testament we can see that God chose to reveal himself and his power through man. This not something that he had to do. Think of the story of Moses. God choose Moses to be his mouthpiece. He could have directly confronted Pharaoh and shown him the power of his might. But he didn’t. He choose a man who didn’t even have much confidence in his own abilities. We see this throughout the bible, especially in the New Testament. Jesus choose twelve men to proclaim the gospel to the world. This is what Paul has to say about it:
“Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
(1 Corinthians 1:20-25)
Jesus has placed spreading the gospel in human hands. This was not a mistake. He meant to do this. Notice how much trust he places in us. It is both gratifying and terrifying at the same time.
After prophesying over the dead bones, the Almighty displays his power by gathering the bones, each in their respective place and causing muscles and flesh to come on them. I love the fact that even in this display of power, The Lord still shows his attention to detail and order. The bones didn’t have to first come together, then have sinews, then flesh and then skin as the account describes. God could have just as easily said “go!” and everything just be done. But instead He chose to cause it all to happen in an orderly fashion. This reminds me of what Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians:
“Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”
(1 Corinthians 14:29-33a)
God is a God of peace and order, and I think it is important to remember this when we sometimes tend towards “organic” disarray (which is not organic at all, then the chemical and biological sense).
Ezekiel sees the lifeless bodies laying all around and awaits for the final stage: the breath of life. He is asked to prophesy once more over the bones that breath may come in them, and their spirits are revived and they all stand as a great army. I believe there are two things we can take away from this.
One, it is the breath of God that gives us life. This passage seems to echo the beginning where God breathed life into Adam, the creation of man. It is God who gives life, the breath of God specifically. This is why the bible is the “living” word of God. Paul writes to Timothy that all scripture is inspired, or “God-breathed.” (II Timothy 3:16-17). John describes Jesus as the word (John 1). This is important to note and dwell on the implications it makes.
Secondly, nothing is impossible with God. The children of Israel seemed to have no hope. They cry “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off (v. 11). But God shows that nothing, not even bringing dry bones back to life, is impossible for him. Prophesy always comes with a meaning, and it is usually a visual representation of what will or already has happened. God’s people felt like they were dead, having no hope. God raised the dead bones, and he tells his people that he will indeed revive them again. Nothing is impossible with God.
I will let you examine the next section, which I believe is a continuation of the prophecy. But at the end of the dry bones story and in the next, God reveals his plan to reunite the divided kingdom under one head, the coming Messiah. David will be their priest forever. We know this to be a reference to Christ Jesus, as he is indeed our King forever. We are spiritual Israel, waiting for that holy city to come out of heaven on the last day, as John describes in his final narrative. One people under one Lord following one convenient.
“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
Suggested Daily Reading: Ezekiel 37, John 3, Hebrews 7-8.
The Lord bless you and keep you.