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The Valley of Dry Bones Pt. 2

Yesterday we looked at Ezekiel 37:1-6 in “The Valley of Dry Bones Pt.1“. We saw the crazy command of God for Ezekiel to speak to bones about word of God. We also applied that text to our lives by answering the question, “Why should we evangelize?”

Today we will focus on Ezekiel 37: 7-10. Here is what the text says:

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had 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 the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.’ 

10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

I love this section of Scripture. It gives us great imagery of God’s life-giving power. It also shows us what is able to happen when we, as believers, follow what God commands of us.

As mentioned in part 1 of this series God tells Ezekiel to prophesy over the dry bones. When Ezekiel follows God’s command we see an amazing thing happen in verses 7-8. First, Ezekiel hears the dry bones rattling. The bones in the valley start moving banging into each other and making the sound of, what I imagine would be, thousands of rattling snakes. Then, each bone finds its former place, cartilage (sinews) attach, muscles and organs get into place (flesh), and skin covers the bodies.

Ezekiel mentions in verse 8 that, “there was no breathe in them.” They were still dead but now they looked more like fresh corpses you would find on the show “CSI” then the dry bones you would find on “Bones”. Regardless of the state of either the dry bones or the fully put together corpses they are still missing one thing…life.

I think this is like the reactions we see when we evangelize. We, as Christians, know that we are talking to spiritually dead people. People that do not have ears to hear or eyes to see. But, when the person that we are talking to starts to understand where we are coming from it is similar to what Ezekiel sees in this part of the vision. Everything gets set in proper place but God still has work to do.

God needs to instill his life in their bodies. Ezekiel shows us this in verses 9-10.

In verse 9 we see God gives Ezekiel another command to prophesy over the dead when he says, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.

Again, we see the faithfulness of Ezekiel. For most of us seeing the bodies coming together would be enough for us to remain faithful but they are still dead. Technology today has given us amazing advances in medicine. We have machines that can resuscitate people. We can even transplant organs from one person to another. However, I have never heard of a case where a corpse that was dead, and through medical means, was given life. So, for me it shows great faithfulness for Ezekiel to follow God’s command in speaking to these dead bodies. And as Ezekiel begins to prophesy an amazing thing happens as seen in verse 10:

So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

When we follow the commands of God to go out and tell dead people about the life-giving power of God sometimes we get the blessing of seeing what Ezekiel saw. It is not exactly the same because we do not preach to physically dead people but we do preach to spiritually dead people. It is amazing when I hear stories of people coming to faith in Christ. I’m floored when I get the privilege to see people’s eyes opened to the truth of the Gospel of Christ. We preach because we want to be the instrument God uses to give people life. We are all blessed to be used by God in this way.

When I was in high school I went on a couple of mission trips. I remember the missionary speaking to us about his work and he said something that will always stick in my mind. He said, “The greatest miracle is when a heart turns from darkness to light.”

May we all thank God for the miracle he has done in our lives, the miracles he has done in others, and the miracles he has yet to do.

The Valley of Dry Bones Pt. 1

The title of this series comes from Ezekiel 37: 1-14. God commanded Ezekiel to do some wild and crazy things. This passage is no different. The first part of this series will focus on verses 1-6 which reads:

1The 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.’ 

Photo Credit: thegoodheart.blogspot.com

 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.’”

God shows Ezekiel a valley filled with bones through a vision. There is a vast number of them. The use of the language “valley” and “dry bones” has significance. The valley could be referring to battle grounds where many people died. However, this is also an example of judgement due to sin. Ezekiel also refers to “dry bones”. These dry bones give us a great picture. The bones are dead. But even further, the dead bodies have decomposed to the point that no flesh remains.

Then, in verse 3, God asks Ezekiel a question, “Son of man, can these bones live?

What a crazy question! If I was Ezekiel I would probably not answer the way he did. Can these bones live? They are dead! Even further, they have been dead for a long time. I don’t know about you but I have never seen a dead person come out of a grave. And if I did I probably would have peed my pants. I know that God can do whatever God wants, but even so, I probably would not have responded the same way Ezekiel did when he says, “O Lord God, you know.

This response floors me. The wisdom in this statement is deep. We, as humans, need to have a correct mindset. A mindset that is humble. A mindset that looks to God for our answers. After Ezekiel’s answer God gives an amazing command to Ezekiel in verse 4 when he says, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.” 

Now at this point I would be rolling my eyes and freaking out a bit. Why on earth would God want me to speak to these dead bones? Why would God ask me to tell them the word of God if they don’t have ears? These questions are similar to what I get when I tell people about my theological position on the free will of God and the enslaved will of man. When I tell someone that God needs to do a resurrecting work in someone’s life for them to hear the message of to Gospel they will undoubtedly respond saying, “Why do evangelism then if God is the one doing the work?” Well, here we see exactly why we do evangelism in verses 5-6:

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.” 

God promises to give these bones flesh, breathe, and life. He says that he will do this through the prophecy of his servant Ezekiel. That is how God accomplishes his will. He uses his people to bring life to others. We speak the truth and God does the work.

That is why we evangelize. That is why we speak to dead people about the life-giving power of God. God promises he will do the work of resurrection. And God tells is why he does it this way at the end of verse 6 when he says, “you shall know that I am the Lord.

May God be glorified through our proclamation of truth!

Love Never Ends

When people get married what is the first passage that gets read? 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 should come to your mind. Here is what Paul writes:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,” (ESV).

It’s obvious why this passage would be read at weddings. It is a beautiful section of Scripture speaking about what love is and what love isn’t. Paul doesn’t stop there even though most readers do. Verses 8-13 say this:

8Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

 13So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The first three word sentence in this section is what I would like to focus on more fully in this post. “Love never ends” is a simple but mind-blowing truth in Scripture. Paul contrasts love with prophecy, spiritual gifts and knowledge. In verse 9 -10 we see the contrast clearly when Paul says, “9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.” 

The knowledge that we, as humans, have is only partial. Nobody can possibly know everything in the realm of knowledge because our brains are not big enough. Prophecy won’t be fully known on this side of glory because when prophecy was given typically it never came to pass until hundreds of years down the line. Paul then says “when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

Photo Credit: newerayouthchurch.com

Knowledge will be complete when believers are glorified. Prophecy will be completely fulfilled when Jesus returns for his people. And spiritual gifts will not be needed because believers will be fully sanctified in the presence of the King of Glory.

And so, because we are limited in the knowledge that we have it is like looking at ourselves in a “mirror dimly”. This is where faith and hope come in. Faith is believing in the things unseen attested to by God himself. Hope is anticipating the promises of God given to his people. These things will one day be fully realized and that is why love is the greatest among faith and hope as Paul writes in verse 13:

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

One day faith will not be needed because we will see the unseen face to face. One day hope will not be needed because we, as believers, will see the fulfillment of every promise God has spoken. But love is different. Love will continue because when love is fulfilled and fully realized that three word sentence Paul writes in verse 8 takes on a deeper meaning.

“Love never ends.”

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