© 2004 by Jerry L. Croasmun

READ -- Ezekiel 37:1-14

"The hand of the LORD was upon me [Ezekiel], 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 (NIV)

It is almost more than I can imagine what Ezekiel went through as recorded in the 37th chapter of Ezekiel. He was led by God to a valley that was filled with dry human bones or skeletons. Preachers often do weird things, but here was one prophet who was instructed to talk to dead skeletons and tell them to come back to life.

In Ezekiel 37:1-3 we read, "The hand of the LORD was upon me [Ezekiel], 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, 'O Sovereign LORD, You alone know.'"

Three different times Ezekiel was given clear instructions by God as to what to say over the dry bones or skeletons. (See verses 4, 9, and 12.) In Ezekiel 37:7, we learn that he obeyed and spoke as God had instructed. "So I [Ezekiel] 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 really do not know if I could have handled the rattling sound of the skeleton bones. I might even have been tempted to try and run out of that "haunted" valley. Ezekiel did not run; however, and in Ezekiel 37:8 we read, "I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them."

Ezekiel was no longer looking at dry dead bones or skeletons, but he now was faced with a valley full of lifeless corpses. In Ezekiel 37:9-10 we read, "Then He [God] said to me [Ezekiel], 'Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, 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."

According to Ezekiel 37:11, the bones were from those of the whole house of Israel. "Then He said to me: 'Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.'"

The Lord promised the children of Israel that He would bring life to them and settle them back in the land of Israel. This prophecy was fulfilled in part back in May of 1948 when Israel became a nation again. Since then many Jewish people have immigrated back into Israel. I pray that one day soon we will witness the entire fulfillment of this prophecy and see the whole house of Israel reunited.

So, what does this passage have to do with Christians who are living today? First of all, I believe we need to recognize and acknowledge that it is by the grace of God that we breathe each breath. In Genesis 2:7 we read, "The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."

Our lives are in God's hand. We will all one day face a physical death. In Job 12:10 we read, "In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." And in Job 33:4 we read, "The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life."

Secondly, I believe the passage in Ezekiel speaks volumes regarding Ezekiel and his relationship with his God. Ezekiel had a tight relationship with God. God spoke, Ezekiel knew it was God who was speaking, and Ezekiel obeyed and spoke the words of the Lord. Do we have an intimate and personal relationship with our God? Do we communicate with Him daily? Do we allow Him to speak to and through us? Or are we doing most of the talking?

I pray we would learn to trust and rely more on God, our creator. For we are nothing, but skeletons or dry bones without the breath of God and His Holy Spirit. May we, as the Psalmist in Psalm 150:6, declare, "Let everything that has breath praise the LORD." Amen.


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