Summary: Life can come to dead people, dead churches, and dead places through the power of God.
"Dry Bones Breathe!"
(Or, Dead Men Live!)
Don’t give in to the temptation to yawn and think, "oh, just the vision of the valley of dry bones." One of the hardest things we have to combat in our reading of the Scriptures is the bland monotony of reading and re-reading a familiar passage numerous times through the years. We lose the freshness and the intensity of the most powerful book the world will ever know by reading the Bible in a ho-hum manner. When you read a passage, even a familiar one, put yourself in the sandals of those who experienced it firsthand.
The vision of dry bones must have been revealed to Ezekiel with startling reality and vividness. It must have seemed even more real than those dreams that you wake up from and are confused if it happened or if you dreamt it.
In this vision I can almost see Ezekiel as he is set down in the middle of this huge valley full of bones... (Remember touching dead things made the Old Testament saints "unclean.")
The Holy Spirit causes him to pass completely around this valley for the full ariel view, and the impression sinks deep into his thoughts. It is a sobering experience as he realizes, "This valley is FULL of bones!" (Imagine it were you.)
I think there were that questions must have weighed heavy on Ezekiel’s mind as he was brought through this vision. As I see it he must have asked himself at least a few questions as he was presented with such an awesome scene as an entire valley, completely full of bones, filled all he could see.
WHO WERE THEY?
It stands to reason that, as he is made to view all these bones, the first question he might have asked was, "Who were these people?" Imagine yourself a stranger to history and stumbling upon photographs of the wagons loaded with hundreds of emaciated bodies stacked like cord wood - the holocaust victims. You would wonder who they were. You would want to know who could do such a thing. You would want to know why this happened, and how.
It is that fresh and that real to Ezekiel. He wants to know who they were. Although there were only bones it is obvious they are human bones. There are pelvic bones and skulls that make them easily identifiable.
Who are they?
Verse 11, they are God’s people. "These bones are the whole house of Israel." At the time of this vision Israel was in Babylonian captivity. They were the slaves of Babylon. I also take it from this verse that as they mourned over their captivity they said, "Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost: we are cut off."
Walk around Nashville for a while. Drive around the side streets and look at the houses. Look at the people. Look at their lives. We have two bars for 1700 people. I haven’t been in the VFW Hall but I bet it is well-stocked too. Then, "Southend" party store is a liquor store. Carl’s and both convenience stores sell at least beer. That means some people, in this little town alone, have 7 places from which to buy alcohol.
Look at the videos offered at the rental places. Dirty movies, scary movies with all sorts of evil, movies that are made just to shock the senses and numb the conscience.
See the video games they hope your kids will be allowed to rent.
Listen to the radios turned up way too loud in the cars.
Show up on Sunday and see the half-empty churches.
It all adds up to dead people. Nothing but bones. And to echo the prophet, they are "very dry." (v:2)
Now couple this with the fact that probably no less that 500 of them have passed through the doors of this very church over the last 46 years. Many of that number made professions of faith right here at this altar. But now they are bleached white, completely without life and cracking in the weather. They are dead. God’s own people, and they are dead.
There is a valley full of them. This is referred to as "Maple Valley." It’s just as aptly called "Ezekiel’s Valley." There are just as many signs of death around us as there were in Babylon that day. People who were once called by His name are now gone. People who once called on His name are no more.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM?
The second question that seems logical Ezekiel would have asked is, "What happened to all these people? How did they die? Why did they die? What could have caused all the death and decay?
In his case, we could rule out war. Israel were God’s people. No enemy that rose up against them could win over God.