Summary: In this Sermon and Old Ezekiel addresses the congregation and reflects upon his life as a prophet and the Valley of the Dry Bones. Bible quotes are from the ESV.
Preaching Outline 030908
Hey there. Do you ever have one of those days when you just feel nostalgic? Don’t always know what it is, but I think it was those few days of warmer weather that got me thinking. Whenever it warms up, the memories just come flooding back to me. There is one date in particular that stands out in my mind. August 14, 586 BC as you would date it. That is the day that the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.
It was an awful day for the people of Israel and Judah. It was also an especially tough day for me as a prophet of the Almighty God. But then again, I never really had an easy go of it in my career. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that any of the prophets had it easy! No way! I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be Elijah and always have Evil King Ahab and Jezebel breathing down my neck. Or to be Hosea and have to have my wife’s unfaithfulness serve as a lesson to the people about their unfaithfulness to God. Or to be Nathan and have the job of taking the great King David to task when he wandered from God.
But my circumstances were different. I was all set to become a Levitical Priest and to help the people of Israel worship in the temple. I studied for a long time to prepare for this and couldn’t wait until I was 30 and I could finally become a priest and carry out my duties. The problem was that before I turned 30, the Babylonians came in and conquered us. They took many of us away from our homeland and led us to Babylon to live as captives. I was crushed.
But right around the time turned 30, I got another kind of call from God. I was washing in the Kebar River when the Lord appeared to me in a vision and called me, not to the priesthood, but to be a prophet. So I went. I have a lot of memories from my time serving as a prophet. Some are wonderful, many are painful, others I wish I could forget. But whenever I start to feel down, I remember one event in particular and I can’t help but be filled with hope and joy, and feel privileged that I was one of the Prophets of God.
You see, for so long, I had the awful task of proclaiming the truth of God’s judgment upon the people. As we were exiled, many of the people started to think, “Hey maybe this will all be over soon, and we can all go back home before they do anything to the city or the temple.” I don’t blame them for wishing that, I wished it too, believe me!
But it fell to me to remind the people why this was happening. To remind them that their unfaithfulness was the cause of the exile. To say, “Thus says the Lord GOD: A city that sheds blood in her midst, so that her time may come, and that makes idols to defile herself! You have become guilty by the blood that you have shed, and defiled by the idols that you have made, and you have brought your days near, the appointed time of your years has come. Therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations, and a mockery to all the countries. Those who are near and those who are far from you will mock you; your name is defiled; you are full of tumult.” (Ezekiel 22:1-5)
It was my job to be the voice of God to the people. But still, it is hard to constantly say such heartbreaking things to the people you love, even if it is the truth. But then one day, God gave me another message to share. And he gave it to me in the most extraordinary way!
The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
Now, if anyone else had asked me can these dead, dried out, bleached out bones can live, the answer would have been obvious, NO WAY! But this was God that was talking to me so I took a deep breath and I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.”
Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”