Read: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Consider: Ezekiel records a rather strange event in today’s passage from Ezekiel 37. He starts with the following statement: 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 (Ezekiel 37:1). Ezekiel is then led through the valley and God asks him: Son of man, can these bones live? (37:3a). What would your answer have been? We all know that dry bones cannot come back to life, yet Ezekiel does not answer ‘No’. He tactfully answers: Sovereign LORD, you alone know (37:3b).
We read God’s response to Ezekiel: 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”’ (37:4-6). When God says: Then you will know that I am the LORD, to whom is he speaking? To the dry bones, to Ezekiel, or the Israelites? When we read that the dry bones represent the people of Israel (37:11), we can see that God is speaking to a dried up nation, who have no hope. Ezekiel’s prophesy is about the return of the people of Israel, from exile, to their own land. It also speaks of God’s faithfulness and unfailing love to his chosen people.
What are we to make of the dry bones as we read this passage today? There is the obvious application to the people of Israel and the fulfilment of God’s promise to them. Even today (in the twenty-first century), God is still desirous of the people of Israel turning to him and being restored. Paul articulates this very clearly in Romans 9:1 – 11:32. Paul is able to say: I ask then: did God reject his people? By no means! (Romans 11:1) and also later in the chapter: Again I ask: did they stumbler so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! (11:11). As we pray for people to come to Jesus in repentance and seeking forgiveness, we should always include the Jews in that prayer.
We could also see the dry bones as representing individuals before they are regenerated by the Holy Spirit. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul says: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins (Colossians 2:13). This is reiterated in another of Paul’s letters written to the believers in Ephesus (see Ephesians 2:1, 5). Conversion and regeneration is no less a miracle than the raising of the dry bones in Ezekiel’s prophecy.
The dry bones could also represent denominations and congregations that have turned their backs on the authority of the Bible and are now lacking any real spiritual life. It is sad when churches adopt the standards of the world with regard to things like same-sex marriage, co-habiting before marriage, etc. Look at the seven churches represented in Revelation 2 and 3 and you will see examples of churches that hold firmly to sound doctrine and others that have lost their way. God has not given up on any denomination or congregation that is currently devoid of spiritual life. He passionately wants them to repent and return to him. Their ‘dry bones’ can come to life again!
Pray: Father, we thank you that you did not leave us dead in our sins, but brought us to life in Jesus Christ. We pray for the Jews that they would be regenerated and brought back to you, seeking your forgiveness. We also pray for churches and denominations that have lost their way and are now ‘dry bones’. May your Holy Spirit be poured out on them, restoring their spiritual life and commitment to you. Amen