Ezekiel 37:1-14 “A Living Hope”
A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Thanksgiving. Turkeys graced most of our tables. By the end of the day, the carcasses of those turkeys were picked clean. Can you imagine going over to those bones—just before you throw them into the garbage bag and saying, “Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on 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.” Your friends and family would probably think that a little more than tryptophan was affecting your behavior.
Ezekiel was faced with a similar hopeless situation when he was called by the Lord to stand in a valley of old, dry bones. The implications of Ezekiel’s words and actions speak powerfully to us as we face the challenges of life and endure some seemingly hopeless situations.
THE LAMENT OF THE PEOPLE
The people of Israel lament. They say that they are like dry old bones and that their hope is lost (vs. 11).
A lament is different than complaining. The Psalms are full of laments. Psalm 22 is a classic example. Jesus quoted from that Psalm on the cross, and it is often used to describe his suffering. At the end of the Psalm, though, there is a proclamation of faith in God. A lament is a crying out to God asking God to intervene and correct the situation.
Complaining is merely grossing that something in our lives isn’t what we want it to be. We may not like our boss. It may be too hot or too cold. We don’t really look to the Lord to intervene on our behalf; we simply want to let everyone know that life isn’t what we deserve.
The Lord heard the lament of the people and the Lord brought Ezekiel to an old battlefield. It was the practice, at that time, for the winning army to remove any valuables from the bodies of the fallen enemy and leave them on the field for the scavengers. Over the years the flesh was consumed and the bones were bleached and decaying. In terms of a breeding area for life, it was hopeless. Yet, in a demonstration of how God was working in and through the nation of Israel, Ezekiel words and actions proclaimed hope.
It is interesting how the Lord acted to rescue his people. The Lord could have simply moved powerfully and brought the people back from Babylon to their homeland. The Lord did not do this, however, at least not in this vision that Ezekiel has. The Lord told Ezekiel to prophecy—to speak the Word.
As people of God, it is important for us to connect ourselves to the Word of God as we seek to live as his disciples. We can do this by reading the Bible devotionally and studying it. Friends—our brothers and sisters in Christ can share the word of God with us and encourage us. We can hear the word of God during worship. It is the word of God that inspires hope within us. The Word of God empowers us to overcome and to endure.
After Ezekiel proclaimed the Word of God, the Spirit moved. The Spirit brought the bones together and connected them with sinews, flesh and skin.
We will not change our situations dramatically by trying harder. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that our lives and the world are changed.
The Spirit, however, does more than simply change our lives, our situations and circumstances and the world. The Spirit also breathes into us the breath of life. There is a movement from death to life. This passage contains a hint of the resurrection.
The purpose of God’s action is not just an expression of God’s love for us, but it is also so that we and the people around us know that God is God. Isn’t that our purpose in life—in our words and actions—to have people see in us God’s love and grace, and to know that God is God.