Summary: This sermon examines the prophet’s vision of the valley of dry bones to our own spiritual lives that are drying up.
Introduction: I was reading Outdoor life the other day while waiting to get my allergy shot and came across an interesting story. It was in a section entitled, “This happened to me.” A turkey hunter had successfully called in a big gobbler within shooting range and shot the turkey. He picked up his trophy and walked over to his 4 wheeler. He laid the turkey on the back of the 4 wheeler and took his turkey tag out of his pocket and attached it to the turkey’s leg. Then He unloaded his gun and put it on the front of the 4 wheeler. Then the hunter decided he better tie the turkey to the back of the 4 wheeler so it wouldn’t fall off. He found some rope but just as he started to tie it down, the turkey got up and ran off taking his turkey tag with it.
Usually if something is dead it stays dead. But in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel there is an interesting passage of scripture that mentions a bunch of dead bones coming back to life. I want use that passage of Scripture for our text today, but before we begin reading it let me give you a little background information.
Ezekiel lived and prophesied during a difficult period of time. The Nation of Israel had turned its back on God and as a result He had the task of prophesying about the Judgment of God that was going to come upon them for their disobedience.
In 597 B.C. the Babylonians successfully captured the city of Jerusalem. At that particular time the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar decided not to completely destroy the city but did take about 10,000 Jews including Ezekiel back Babylon to serve as slaves.
Although Ezekeil lived with his fellow exiles in Babylon, and even though His desire to return to Jerusalem was just as great as theirs. His Divine calling and insight required that He prophecy instead about the destruction of Jerusalem. For the first 7 years they were in Exile, Ezekiel faithfully proclaimed God’s Judgment upon His people, and that the Temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed.
After conquering the nation of Israel King Nebuchadnezzer placed a man named Zedekiah, on the throne in Jerusalem. A few years later Zedekiah tried unsuccessfully to lead a rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar. That’s when Nebuchadnezzar ordered his army to completely destroy the city of Jerusalem including the temple.
Ezekiel was the son of Buzi, a priest who served in some capacity in the Temple in Jerusalem. Many Biblical scholars also believe that Ezekiel himself served as one of the Temple priests before being exiled to Babylon.
The two greatest personal tragedies for Ezekiel occurred at the same time; the death of his wife and the destruction of Jerusalem. God instructed Ezekiel to set an example for the Jews by not mourning for his wife. In the same way He told Ezekiel that the Jews should not mourn the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem.
Ezekiel was not only a priest and prophet. But He was also a pastor to the exiles. He truly loved his people, and did his best to minister to them while they were in exile.
Now I want to stop for a minute to make sure you understand the importance of these events. The fact that the Nation of Israel had been defeated and that many of the Jews had been taken into captivity is important for a couple of reasons.
First of all, The Jews believed that God would always protect them and keep them from being defeated. So in one sense the Jews felt God himself had been defeated.
A second and perhaps even more difficult blow came when the Jews in Exile found out that the Temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed and that the city itself had been burned.
This was very discouraging and disheartening for the Jews in Exile because they never thought God would ever allow anything to happen to Jerusalem and especially the Temple. Despite the fact that Ezekiel had been telling them for several years that it was going to happen, they refused to believe it.
But it did, and when it did many of the Jews in captivity gave up any hope of ever returning to Jerusalem.
The main theme that is constant throughout the book of Ezekiel is The Sovereignty of God. That He and He Alone is in control of everything that takes place. Keep that in mind as we read this passage of Scripture today.
Read verses 1-3.
“The LORD took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the LORD to a valley filled with bones.” 37:1
“He led me around among the old, dry bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground.” 37:2