Summary: Lent 5(A) - Can these dry bones live? No - sin brings utter hopelessness. Yes - God graciously restores hope!
CAN THESE DRY BONES LIVE? (Outline)
March 25, 2007
LENT 5 - Ezekiel 37:1-14
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INTRO: These verses can sound a bit gruesome. There is a valley of dead, dry bones. Ezekiel walks through them. The Lord says they shall come to life. There is a purpose for the gruesomeness of these words. Man’s sins are gruesome (or horrible) in the sight of God. Our Lord God often uses striking contrasts so that we would pay attention. Here is death (by, because of sin) and life (by, because of God). "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins"(COLOSSIANS 2:13). Paul also mentions the same sentiments: dead in your sins…alive with Christ. We will use the question of the Lord as our theme:
CAN THESE DRY BONES LIVE?
I. (No) Sin brings utter hopelessness.
II. (Yes) God graciously restores hope!
I. SIN BRINGS UTTER HOPELESSNESS
A. For thirty chapters Ezekiel had warned and encouraged Israel to repent. Judgment was coming.
1. In chapter 33 Ezekiel tells of the fall of Jerusalem. The city is destroyed. Israel is captured.
2. The following chapters reveal a message of hope and consolation for Israel.
B. Verse 1 begins with Ezekiel’s vision, the Lord’s miracle, and a gruesome picture of sin’s effects.
1. Verse 2 reveals the bones are dry, a long time dead. A strong gust would turn them to dust.
2. The question in verse 3. Ezekiel’s answer, since he did not know, Lord, you know.
C. Verses 4 and 5 give Ezekiel the Lord’s answer to the question if these bones can live.
1. Ezekiel is to prophesy. The bones would be given tendons, flesh, skin, and live.
2. These dry bones live by the power of the word of the Lord. Know that I am the Lord!
D. Verse 11 reveals that these bones are the whole house of Israel. They feel utterly hopeless = sin.
E. Sin is a devastating word. Sin is so devastating and unbearable that our society has tried to get rid of that word. Today’s world has turned sin into diseases. So-called experts have sometimes renamed sin. God still considers sin as sin. Worse our world has, at times, tried to ignore sin, deny sin, or act like sin does not even exist. But that is not what God’s word says. "Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one"(PSALM 53:3). EVERYONE is included in the utter hopelessness that sin brings.
F. At times, Christians feel exempt from sin. The Pharisee in prayer was happy he was not like other people. Other sinners were far worse than he was. Again, the emphasis is on the fact that ALL are sinners. There is no escaping sin on this side of heaven. Even believers feel the effect of evil thoughts, wicked words, and sinful actions. Our flesh carries with it the infection of sin. "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away"(ISAIAH 64:6). Yes, Isaiah describes that even our righteous acts are tainted by sin. We are reminded that we cannot earn our way into heaven with money nor with works.
G. Sometimes we may try to fool ourselves. We might think that our lives are not that bad. God certainly must be pleased with my life of worship, my devotion and dedication to him. God is pleased. But our sinful nature loves to rear it ugly head and try to deceive us. The world teaches us to look out for number one – namely, ourselves. We can easily fall into the traps of the philosophies of this world. “If it feels good, do it.” “Everyone else is doing it.” The wisdom of this world is no friend to the eternal salvation of God. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction"(GALATIANS 6:7,8a). Our nation often lives life to the fullest here unconcerned about eternity. Worldly living will reap destruction forever.
CAN THESE DRY BONES LIVE? When we see the utter hopelessness of sin, we have to answer no.
II. GOD GRACIOUSLY RESTORES HOPE
A. Back to Ezekiel walking in the valley among the great number of dead, dry bones.
1. The Lord says to Ezekiel prophesy. Ezekiel does what the Lord commands, verses 7,8.
2. The power of God’s word brings bone together with bone. Flesh and skin cover them.
B. Flesh and bones come together but not living. Ezekiel is to command the four winds for breath.