This past Thursday night, we gathered together as a congregation in the Main Auditorium for a night of praise and worship to the King of Kings. I have always loved our worship nights, not only for the great worship music, but for the power in seeing so many people come with the intention of worshipping the Lord, throwing off whatever burdens they may carry as they enter the room. This specific Worship Night, we began the night in Ezekiel 37, which tells the story of Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones.
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. 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. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 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.’”
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. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them 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 it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
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.’ 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. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 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.’”
Ezekiel 37:1-14 ESV
In an interesting act of the Holy Spirit, my current “Bible in a Year” study plan had me reading Ezekiel 37 just that Monday. When Worship Night began in the same passage, I knew there was a deeper message from the Lord waiting there. And while this may be a story that you have heard before, I’d be willing to wager that the Lord has something new to show you in this passage as well.
God takes Ezekiel to a valley full of dry bones and asks him if those bones can live again. He then uses Ezekiel as a medium to prophesy over the dry bones, reanimating them into full bodies before breathing life into them. One key takeaway is clear: God has the power to reverse the process of death, decomposition, and decay. No matter how broken, desperate, or futile a situation may look, God and God alone has the power and authority to turn it around.
Ezekiel also specifies that the bones are “very dry” (v.2). The dry bones are not only dead, but they have been dead for so long that any semblance of muscles, tendons, or even moisture have all faded with the hands of time. Even so, the Lord was able to take the dry bones and bring life to them. Even then, God’s redemptive power remained unbeaten.
But if the dry bones represented the people of Israel, God’s chosen people, why were they left in such a desolate shape?
The people of Israel were in a state of constant sin against the Lord. While there was a remnant such as Ezekiel that remained faithful to the Lord, the vast majority of Israel worshipped other idols, choosing to do what they please rather than live faithfully to the Lord.
God sent Ezekiel to serve as a watchman to the people of Israel, calling out their sinful ways as well as the impending doom that would come. Israel, however, refused to listen, and the resulting action found King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army invading Israel. Under Babylonian occupation, Israel was left battered, broken, and feeling abandoned by the Lord.
And so, God’s chosen people were left as nothing but dry bones, corpses of their former selves. The real beauty of the story, however, doesn’t lie in the grave. It lies in the redemption of Israel as God breathed life back into them, promising to put his Spirit within them and to return Israel to their own land.
This tale of redemption also serves as a predicator for the things yet to come. Approximately 600 years later, it wasn’t a valley of dry bones coming back to life, but rather Jesus Christ the Messiah. God sacrificed his one and only son, fully God and fully man, not only for the redemption of Israel but for the redemption of all who would call upon His name.
We are all broken people. There are areas of each of our lives that need new life breathed into them. Whether it be a sin struggle or an area of your life that you feel has simply not bore fruit, we believe in a God who can restore things that were once dead to life and beauty, and he can do so for you as well.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”
Isaiah 53:5 ESV