Summary: Challenge to respond to what God says and not what our experience says.
Ezekiel’s Valley of Dry Bones
reading; Ezekiel 37:1-14
Ezekiel lived in the 6th century BC and was a prophet of the exile under the Babylonians, which had begun under King Nebuchadnezzar, between 598 and 586 BC. He was the son of Buzi and his ministry spans some twenty two years, starting in about 593 BC. He was a priest and so would have been familiar with the temple and its precincts.
As a young man he would have seen the effects of King Josiah’s reforms, and their coming to nothing after his death. He would also have met the high ranking officials of his day, in all probability the King as well.
He was married and it would seem that his wife died when Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem. He had great faith in the leadership of the nation, even though all did not seem well. So the fall of Jerusalem would have been a great shock to him. He would still have been in mourning for his wife, when the armies of Babylon finally marched in to the city, in 587/6 BC. He was then soon march with many others, off to exile in Babylon.
Just about everything was going wrong in his life, he was quite possibly wondering where the promise of God’s blessing was fitting into all of this.
One day though, God speaks to him. He was feeling down and wondering what was going to happen next. God showed him a valley of dry bones. They were dry because they had laid exposed in a dry place for some considerable time. This could well have been the debris of a battle.
God said to him;
(Ezekiel 37:3) "Son of man, can these bones live?"
"Ezekiel, can this carnage of death, this expanse of waste, can it be reversed. Can those who are laying disjointed and without life, can these victims of this catastrophe be brought back to life? Can they live, Ezekiel?"
This is very much a picture of our nation today and in particular so many churches of today. There are people who have gone to church and made some form of commitment, and when trouble comes, they have at first struggled, then just laid down for a rest, but they never got up again.
From here they started to dry up, as they had run out of go, lost their first love along with their drive in their Christian walk. Some lost direction and wandered into the desert, only to pay a very high price.
Here we find God speaking to a very down cast and dejected Ezekiel, saying to him; "Can these casualties be brought to life? Can they once again have life restored to them? Can that first love be set alight once again? Can they be revived Ezekiel?”
At a first glance the damage seemed irreversible. This was a valley of bones. Not one of the bones was in its correct position to make a skeleton, yet alone any sinew of flesh and blood. Just dry bones, mile upon mile of lifeless, parched, bleached bones. They were so dry, that not even a dog would take one, just too tough to chew.
Ezekiel knew not to answer too quickly, even in his state, he knew better. Yet the more he looked, the scene just did not change.
(Ezekiel 37:3) "O LORD God, You know."
"You know everything Lord. I cannot do anything; I know the task is too big for me. If I were able to match these bones, all that I would have is skeletons. You know Lord, I don’t."
For years people have struggled on in their own way, trying everything they can get some life. Yet all has come to little or nothing. But when God speaks, what a difference!
(Ezekiel 37:4) "Prophesy to these bones..."
"Ezekiel, speak the words that I will give you, do as I say, go when I say go and these bone will live."
Ezekiel did as he was told to do and something very remarkable happened.
(Ezekiel 37:7+8) "So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone.
Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them."
Notice that this was not just any movement, not just any old bone joining to another. Each bone came to the correct skeleton, in the correct place and order.
For years God has been shaking up His church. The noises of the rattling of bones for revival have been getting louder. God has been calling out His church and raising up His body to be at one. Often we have taken the first step, with the result that we end up with all the ingredients for life, everything in its right place and covered with all that it needs, yet there is still no life. The revival actually starts when the breath of God comes upon the bodies.