Summary: For us today it is a message of hope. No matter how hopeless a situation might seem, there is a God who restores life. We have a God that can make even dry bones live again.
EZEKIEL 37: 1-14 [HOPE FOR LIFE Series]
A REVIVAL OF HOPE
Have you ever faced a seemingly hopeless situation? One where everything you did seemed to no avail? The odds were so against you that you wanted to give up? Ezekiel the prophet did. He wanted to see revival in the land but the people refused to repent, believe in and live for the Lord God. His ministry seemed for no good purpose so God lets Ezekiel know that one day there would be revival in the land. This message of future revival conveyed the hope and encouragement they all needed.
The chapters before our text have announced a future revival and restoration under the New Covenant. Now the glorious hope of the resurrection of the Lord's people to new life is presented to Ezekiel. The aim of the vision when it was originally given was to counteract the despair and pessimism which laid hold of Ezekiel and the despondent nation after captivity and the fall of Jerusalem. For some people today it is a message of political revival of a nation. For others it is a scene of the general resurrection of the dead on the last day. For others it is a resurrection of national life as inaugurated by the Lord at His Second Coming. For us today it is a message of hope. No matter how hopeless a situation might seem, there is a God who restores life (CIM). We have a God that can make even dry bones live again.
I. A HOPELESS VALLEY, 1-2.
II. A QUESTION OF LIFE, 3-6.
III. THE BREATH OF LIFE, 7-10.
IV. GOD’S SPIRIT CAUSES NEW LIFE, 11-14.
In verse 1 Ezekiel begins to report on a spiritual experience where God’s Spirit placed him in a valley [or plain] of dry bones. “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones”
The hand of the Lord was upon me is Ezekiel's usual expression for a supernatural visionary experience (3:12-15; 8:3). It indicates a powerful prophetic awakening and inspiration. He was transported by the Spirit of the Lord into the middle of a valley [or plain; Hebrew, biqoh, 3:22, presumably the same place where Ezekiel saw his initial vision of God’s presence, 1:1-3:15] filled with human bones. These bones were dried, bleached, decayed and scattered. All about the prophet were dead bones and the total absence of life. [It represents the spiritual death of God’s people that lead to the death of the nation.]
[Israel was a defeated nation. It had been crushed militarily, its people had been separated from one another in exile, and it had suffered the inevitable result of its abandonment of the Lord. Alone, exhausted, discouraged, and impoverished, Israel was indeed as good as dead.
But God had other plans. The controller of history had something in mind for His people that they couldn’t have imagined possible, especially since most of them retained little knowledge of the promises of the Word of God that they would one day be brought back from exile by the mighty hand of God (e.g., Deut. 4:29–31; 30:1–10; Jer. ). It didn’t matter, though, if they had forgotten. God had not and would accomplish His purposes for His glory by reviving Israel. Stuart, Douglas. The Preacher's Commentary Series, Volume 20 : Ezekiel. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1989, S. 332.]
God caused Ezekiel to inspect the bones in verse 2. “He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry.”
God led Ezekiel on a tour around the bones that he might have a clearer view of them and see whether there was any life in them or not. So Ezekiel moves among the scattered bones. He's taken back at the number of bones lying on the surface of the valley and characterizes them as very dry, indicating that they had been dead for a long time. Any human suggestion that these bones could ever come to life again would be preposterous. There are situations which appear to be totally and absolutely hopeless to natural man. What is impossible to man though is possible with our supernatural God.
II. A QUESTION OF LIFE, 3-6.
God then asked the prophet a surprising question in verse 3. ‘He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, "O Lord GOD, You know.”
As Ezekiel surveyed the scene in the valley in order to emphasize the total void of life apart from God, the Lord asks Ezekiel the question, "Can these bones live?" The prophet's answer was restrained and filled with the awareness of human helplessness in the face of death. Ezekiel's beloved wife had been taken from him (24:15-27) and the loss still pounded in his heart. But he also had respect for the unfathomable hidden power of God.