Summary: A sermon based on the story in Ezekiel 37 about the valley of dry bones. This message describes what brings back life to dry bones and to dry lives.
In the town of Sedlec in the Czech Republic there is a famous cemetery that dates back to the 13th century. Some 40,000 people who died from the Black Plague in the 14th century and in the Hussite wars in the beginning of the 15th century were buried there. Around 1400 a Gothic church of All Saints was built at the center of the cemetery. Underneath it a chapel was built as an ossuary to hold the bones unearthed in mass graves during the construction of the church. This church of bones contains the skeletal remains of these 40,000 people. It is literally a church of bones.
Some churches have cemeteries on their properties.
Your church does not have to have a cemetery to have dead bodies around.
Some pews can be occupied by folks with dead spirits.
Sometimes the whole collection of people can feel dead.
Open your Bible again to Ezekiel 37 see a congregation of bones:
The hand of the LORD was upon me, 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
Ezekiel was not in California…but it could have been called Death Valley
What he saw was not flesh and bones…but bones.
The Hebrew people were living as exiles in Babylon. Nebecanezzar and the Babylonian army had destroyed Jerusalem and forced the people to live in Babylon.
They were far from home, lost, and dried up, wondering if their identity as a nation was dead.
A couple of hundred years before, their fellow Hebrews, who had lived north of them, were defeated by the Assyrians, taken into exile, and never heard from again.
We begin acknowledging the reality that life can get dry. Dry = discouraging.
Discouragement is one of Satan’s greatest tools (because few people know it belongs to him.)
When a church gets discouraged….
People quit praying, giving, attending, worshipping, looking to Jesus, …
Life gets bone dry. Life gets lifeless.
The potential for a church to get lifeless should always concern us.
(I don’t preach this today because I believe we are lifeless, but to help us neither to go there or want to go there.)
Boneyards are cemeteries. And in some regards cemeteries would make great churches: They are Organized, Uniform, Perfect attendance, No Changes, No complaints… There is only one problem: There is NO LIFE!
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?" Ezekiel 37:2-3a NIV
Dry bones is as dead as you can get. About as much life as one of those Legos
These are not bones still moist with decaying flesh but the emphasis is that the bones were VERY DRY. It is one thing to believe God for a miracle to heal the sick or maybe even to raise a person who has died recently like Lazarus.
You would think the answer had to be “NO”. But Ezekiel hesitates.
"O Sovereign LORD, you alone know." Ezekiel 37:3b NIV
Here is the question: Can you get life into your life even when you are dry, discouraged and dead?
We are going to share this morning about things we need in order to get life into our lives.
GET A WORD FROM THE LORD
Then He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ’Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! Ezekiel 37:4 NIV
Can you imagine a more difficult assignment: Preach to a bunch of bones…
THAT is a tough congregation: Boneyard Baptist Church
Dry bones did not get a dry sermon. They got a word from the Lord!
Not a word from an economist, not Dr. Phil, not Rush, not a personal ad,
Not George, Hillary, Barak, or John…but from the Lord.
Ezekiel was to be God’s mouthpiece, not delivering Ezekiel’s message but the Lord’s.
If ANYONE can speak to dry inanimate objects and get them to respond, it is the Lord.
He spoke to wind peace be still.
He spoke to the waves part so my people may pass
He spoke to the Rocks and they brought forth water.
He spoke and they heard and responded.
Should it not also be true that the bones would hear.
The word of the Lord is a word of life.
Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life.
Whatever you face, whatever your circumstances, God has something to say.
Can these bones live? Get a word from the Lord. But there is still no life. More is needed.
So I 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 looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. Ezekiel 37:7-8 NIV