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Summary: When everything seems past hope, God can resurrect our promises. Its takes faith, action and obedience. God can even bring a nation back to life.

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THE BONES OF HOPE

TEXT: Ezek. 37:1-14

INTRO: One of the more frightening words in the English language is "HOPELESS"!

History is replete with the examples of "hopeless" situations, however, in the hands of God those "hopeless" situations are merely opportunities for God to reveal Himself! God allows such conditions to exist and in them He calls us to Himself...such circumstances help us see our need of God and His hope.

In Fact, if history teaches us anything, it teaches us that what can seem hopeless today can be full of hope tomorrow! Even in the natural realm this is true:

a. Once simple infections used to kill people, today with the knowledge of antibiotics we hardly flinch at the news of many kinds of infections, they are more nuisances to us now, years ago they were hopeless and deadly diseases!

b. Years ago a drowning victim in a cold lake was left alone if he had been under for more than a few minutes, we now know that such people can often be revived even after being under for up to an hour in very cold water!

c. Not too many years ago people with bad hearts were given up as hopeless as their heart muscle failed, today a new heart can be transplanted and life can be restored for many many years of high quality living!

If man can alter "hopeless" situations into ones with hope....imagine what God can do!?

The Bible teaches us that nothing is hopeless when God gets involved....and when we involve God in our lives! Even the most hopeless of situations can be reversed by a God who offers great hope!

I. POSSIBILITIES 37:1-8,11-13

A. Hopeless Situation? 37:1-3,11

1. Ezekiel's early ministry was one of harsh judgments on God's people for their rebellion.

a. He was in captivity in Babylon with many of the Jews, while he prophesied to the captives in Babylon, Jeremiah prophesied to the Jews still living in Israel.

b. Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel told Israel that God's judgment hand was on them for their constant rebellion to God....and that they should accept the punishment and turn from their sins...but Israel refused.

c. Therefore, for many years Ezekiel proclaimed a harsh life for Israel.

2. After about 7 years of preaching Judgment hoping Israel would turn from their wicked ways, nothing happens...Ezekiel becomes silent for about 13 years!!!

a. Perhaps there was a sense of "it's no use, they are hopeless!"

b. 7 years of warnings hadn't done anything...it looked hopeless.

3. After 13 years of silence however, Ezekiel once again begins to speak to Israel in captivity...only this time he is broken for them. Instead of harsh judgments, he begins to preach God's desire to heal them and help them .... hope can't be far away!

a. With a new message of hope, Israel might respond

b. Hope is what people need in order to recover from life's painful situations!

4. What would seem absolutely hopeless to Ezekiel (long dead dry bones coming alive again!?) is no match for a God of power and life!

a. It is important to note that when God shows Ezekiel this valley of dry bones that God puts him down in the "MIDDLE" of it...no matter which way Ezekiel looked there was no life, no possibilities in human terms...from every angle it was hopeless by human standards!

b. The earthly perspective looked impossible.

5. No wonder when Ezekiel is asked by God whether these bones could live again he answered like he did: "LORD, YOU ALONE KNOW!" (37:3b)

a. Ezekiel knew God too well to say "NO"....his faith in God's power would not allow him to say "NO"... however,

b. His human reasoning said "NO"...but his heart knowing God says "POSSIBLE"....so he gives the non committal response of "Lord, you alone know!"

c. How many times have we responded to similarly hopeless situations as Christians...too afraid not to have faith, but too logical to believe at the same time!

B. Helping Strength 37:4-8,12-13

1. Ezekiel is told to do a strange thing: "PREACH TO THE BONES"...!!!

a. This doesn't seem like much of a solution!

b. Hadn't he already done this for about 7 years..and then he waited silently for about another 13 years without any changes in Israel..after 20 years, what point is there in preaching again?

2. His message is different this time however, instead of harsh judgment, he is to preach "LIFE" to these dry bones!

a. How badly our world needs to hear the "Word of Life"!

b. Where people lose their hope...they cease to offer help!

3. The world is standing by with no hope...and no help....BUT God and His people must be standing by "PROPHESYING TO THE DRY BONES" ...PREACHING LIFE!

a. We alone have the message of hope!

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