Ezekiel 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. 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[a] 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”.
The valley of the dry bones is an image most of us can relate to, it is an image of helplessness and hopelessness, speaking of the finality of death. Death St. Paul refers to as “the last enemy”.
It is amid this barren and lifeless place that Ezekiel is asked “Son of Man, can these bones live?” –My answer would be “of course not, they’ve been dead centuries!” Yet Ezekiel answers with the eyes of faith and says @Lord, only you know” –he knows that God is a God of life, a God who breathed life into dirt and caused humanity to come alive, a God of resurrection for whom nothing is impossible.
Ezekiel knows there is nothing he can do in his human capacity to bring resuscitation to these bones, we sometimes try to minimize the severity of difficult situation and try to tinker around finding little bits of life.
Sometimes we need to come before God and amid that a death has happened and we are powerless to bring life on our own with our resources and capacities.
God tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones, prophesy is an interesting word as it is more than just talking but instead has the idea of speaking God’s word into situations, the God who spoke into the darkness and created the light, choses to speak through mere mortals like you and me.
As Ezekiel begins to prophesy the bones and they become joined together, a picture of unity being an important foundation for new life, division and death are fruits of the enemies success, where restoration, togetherness and life are signs of the Kingdom of God.
The body becomes covered with tendons and skin, and looks like a living person, but there is no breath within them. Too often as Churches we are good at getting people to this stage of ‘sorted-ness’ as we feed them, clothe and educate, help them get jobs and housing but unless they hear about the salvation on offer through Jesus they remain dead.
We are called not just to ‘patch people up’ or ‘do a bit of repairs’ but to bring them life, eternal life, resurrection life, life in the Spirit.
Ezekiel keeps prophesying and the bodies receive breath and the life of God within them.
Too often we see people who look like they have it all together and we need to remember that unless they know Jesus then they are spiritually dead and need the life that only Christ Jesus can bring.
A wonderful picture of the people of Israel or the Church of Christ, that looks hopeless and can be written off as finished and dead but with the Lord of life it can be reassembled, restored and resurrected.
In the early days of the 24/7 prayer movement Pete Grieg coined the phrase “You see bones, I see an army” a challenge to the Church to crucify their defeatist mindset and see the world with the eyes of Christ, with him nothing is hopeless or helpless, no situation is to barren or dead for his new resurrection life to come and bring transformation.
What do you see bones or the power of God to bring life and transformation.