Summary: Exposition of Ezekiel 37:1-14 regarding the raising of the dry bones in preparation for our revival week
Text: Ezekiel 37:1-14, Title: Can These Bones Live? Date/Place: NRBC, 10/28/07, PM
Opening illustration: The treacherous enemy facing the church of Jesus Christ today is the dictatorship of the routine, when the routine becomes "lord" in the life of the church. Programs are organized and the prevailing conditions are accepted as normal. Anyone can predict next Sunday’s service and what will happen. This seems to be the most deadly threat in the church today. When we come to the place where everything can be predicted and nobody expects anything unusual from God, we are in a rut. The routine dictates, and we can tell not only what will happen next Sunday, but what will occur next month and, if things do not improve, what will take place next year. Then we have reached the place where what has been determines what is, and what is determines what will be. That would be perfectly all right and proper for a cemetery. Nobody expects a cemetery to do anything but conform. The greatest conformists in the world today are those who sleep out in the community cemetery. They do not bother anyone. They just lie there, and it is perfectly all right for them to do so. You can predict what everyone will do in the cemetery from the deceased right down to the people who attend a funeral there. Everyone and everything in a cemetery has accepted the routine. Nobody expects anything out of those buried in the cemetery. But the church is not a cemetery and we should expect much from it, because what has been should not be lord to tell us what is, and what is should not be ruler to tell us what will be. God’s people are supposed to grow.
A. Background to passage: Ezekiel prophesied from Babylon after the second round of conquest and removal of key people from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel was taken in 605 BC with little resistance. Ezekiel was taken as a prisoner in the year 597 BC after a siege. But the most destructive attack was still to come in 586 BC. His prophecies relate to the judgment that Judah, judgment on the surrounding nations, and the restoration of Israel. This text is a vision of that restoration. And it was probably given some years after the final destruction of Jerusalem, when Israel as a nation was at the lowest point since the time of the judges. The text says that these bones were “very dry.” But in this vision, God does a miracle right before Ezekiel’s eyes—raising the bones of His dead, lifeless, hopeless people to new life. Say a word about interpretation of Israel and the church, and drawing on principles. Also say a word about the “only you know” comment and the main point of Ezekiel’s prophesy—that only God can truly revive.
B. Main thought: So in our text tonight, we will see how and why God chooses to bring revival to His people.
A. Hearing of the preached Word (v. 4)
1. Three times in these verses God tells Ezekiel to preach to the dry bones. The word used means to speak a word from God under the influence of God (which is what his testimony is about this vision in verse one). It carries the connotation of bubbling up with fervency. And despite the absurdity of such an instruction, Ezekiel does it. Because he knows that only God can do it, and also he is committed to absolute obedience to God regardless of his own thoughts and agendas. And it is during this preaching that the bones begin to come together and muscles, ligaments, and skin come upon them.
2. Luke 4:4, 1 Cor 1:18, 21,
3. Illustration: the title of Dr. Bennett’s book—Thirty Minutes to Raise the Dead, I cannot underestimate the value of preaching in my own Christian life, tell about hearing Ronnie Owens, MacArthur, Pouchot, James MacDonald, Paige Patterson, Adrian Rogers, and Scott Brown, “If you were to put Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, anybody else out there and let them speak to the same people three times a week for 27 years they would be climbing the walls to get out if you are drawing from your own well; I don’t care who you are. The reason I preach the Bible is: first, I’m not smart enough to preach anything else. The Bible is a bottomless well. So I’m not smart enough to preach anything else. The other reason is I am smart enough not to preach anything else, because I know that that has the staying power. My people love me today; I don’t want to say boastfully, but I know this is true: they love me, they come. This place is packed, we have run out of room. It is not a testimony to the man but to the Bible. If I stop preaching the Bible, these folks will saturate this place with absence. They come for the Word of God. They want it to be warm, they want it to be understandable and applicable. But I have learned that there is power in the preaching of the Word of God.” –Adrian Rogers, always going to Good Hope expecting to hear from God,