Summary: ’Dem Bones-Imagine the scene Ezekiel saw as the scattered dry bones on this old battlefield surf the desert in search of each other. New life in Christ and the future restoration of Israel. Link included to text file, handout, and PowerPoint.
“Bones, Bodies, and a Big Breath”
Read vv. 1-10
This passage of scripture is the basis for the old negro-spiritual, “’dem Bones.”
Sing: ‘dem bones, ‘dem bones, ‘dem, dry bones
Not about resurrection, though the Bible teaches a literal resurrection: Dan. 12:2—“them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
Not about resurrection, but about restoration.
The future restoration of Israel. We’ll come back to the interpretation.
Let’s look at it verse by verse and make some applications first:
v.1- God flew the prophet Ezekiel “on location.” (an old battlefield)
God gave Ezekiel this “vision”. It’s no coincidence that v.1 says he was “in the spirit.” (no spirit-no vision-where there is no vision…people perish!)
v.2- The Bones
About these bones: very many, very dry…
…a desert situation, much like Death Valley, California.
Ill.—driving to Disneyland, thru Death Valley, signs: “take water, gasoline, last gasoline for 150 miles!”
No life, just cacti, and tumbleweeds and sand blowing across the road…
…I remember them blowing across the highway, from right to left…whistle! Cars stalled, drivers keeled over, we pointed and laughed! (just kidding!)
“Very dry,”—these ones were parched and bleached by the sun.
ill.--Cow skull in NM—looked sturdy, but it crumbled in my hands! Like the “whited sepulchers” Jesus spoke of…inside is just dead bones!
This was an old battlefield and these were the losers: scattered, dry, & dead.
v.3- “thou knowest”—like saying, “it’s beyond me!”
v.4- Imagine what Ezekiel must’ve thought. “You want me to preach to these dry bones?”
What a helpless feeling! About as helpless as many pastors feel in dead churches we’ve all visited, where even the saved members are dry bones which do not listen, do not “hear the Word of the Lord.”
Looking for a church? How about Bleached Bone Baptist? Ever been there? Ever Pastored there?
vv. 5-6-- Ezekiel said, “God is the One who will bring you to life.”
Ill.—my first convert at the age of 8. “I saved him.” (when I gave a testimony about leading my 1st soul to Christ I misspoke, saying that I saved him!)
At best we as ministers of the gospel (all of us) are just talking to dry bones, it is the Spirit of God that brings life!
vv.7-8-- The Bodies
Imagine the scene as scattered bones surf the desert in search of their counterparts. Imagine the sound as they clicked together into socket. Imagine the sight Ezekiel saw when he observed hundreds and thousands of skeletons as they came together in perfect order!
Notice the process taking place: it was gradual, not instantaneous.
They were scattered, dry and dead. But then they come together…skeletons…but still dead. Then body parts and flesh come upon them, not just bones, but bodies, corpses…but still dead.
“A corpse is a corpse, of course, a corpse!
And no one can preach to a corpse of course
That is, of course, because the corpse is the infamous ‘Mr. Dead!’
As a matter of course, go straight to the corpse
He’ll give you no answer, tho’ you use great force!
Ever preached to a spiritual corpse? Preach to ‘Mr. Dead’!
Preachers yackety yack, and waste their time of day
But ‘Mr. Dead’ will ever sleep, until the Spirit comes in to stay!”
[copyright 2005, Jerry Shirley]
vv. 9-10--The Big Breath
This miracle resembles the miracle of man’s creation.
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
They were alive. All around Ezekiel stood a living, breathing army!
Note the 3 stages again:
1.) Scattered, dry, dead bones.
2.) Corpses, but still dead.
3.) A living, breathing army.
v.11- Before Jerusalem was conquered, the Jews held to a false hope, that the prophets would return unto them.
Now that Jerusalem was destroyed, they had lost all hope. They were the equivalent to the modern “manic depressive”: sky high one minute and the next minute lower than a snakes belly. This vision was given to all of Israel saying, There is hope!
v.12-13-- look at v.21—God said He would gather Israel back up and bring them back to their own land.
He did…May 14, 1948—Israel became a nation.
They were scattered, dry, and dead!
In 1948 they were brought together, and they exist together today, as a spiritual corpse!
They have a flag, a constitution, a prime minister, police force, and an army, and they’ve even sent an astronaut into space.
They have everything except spiritual life.
In Jerusalem, you can walk all the way from the Arab section to the Israeli section; you will see lots of sights, but you will not find true “spiritual life.”