Summary: Have you ever faced a situation that you wondered whether anything could be done to fix it? God tells Ezekiel what to do about the condition of his nation. God stirs his faith for action. Ezekiel responds. How would God direct us to respond to our impossi
I want to begin with a question God asked Ezekiel, in Ezekiel 37:3:
"Son of man, can these bones live?"i
Have you ever faced a situation that you wondered whether anything could be done to fix it? Have you ever had a financial debt that that looked like an insurmountable mountain? Sometimes it’s a sickness, like the woman with the issue of blood had.ii Sometimes it’s a wayward child or an unbelieving husband or no husband. Discouraging difficulties; Impossible circumstances!
Years ago we sang a song that began with these questions. “Got any rivers you think are incrossable? Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through? God specializes in things thought impossible. And He can do what no other power can do.”iii
Keep that in mind as we walk through Ezekiel’s experience with him.
Follow with me as we read Ezekiel 37:1-3.
“The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2 Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. 3 And He said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ So I answered, ‘O Lord GOD, You know.’”
Ezekiel was a priest called by God into prophetic ministry. His ministry briefly overlapped with that of Jeremiah. Like Jeremiah he confronted Judah about their unfaithfulness to God. Unlike Jeremiah,iv he was carried away to Babylon with the captives in 597 B.C. His message was primarily to the demoralized Jews who were deported to Babylon.v
In the vision recorded in our text, God is promising to restore Israel. The promise is fulfilled at two levels. A partial fulfillment occurred in 538 B. C. when Cyrus allowed the captives to return to their homeland. The complete fulfillment began in 1948 and will consummate in the Millennium. That is the proper interpretation of this passage.vi However, God operates according to principles revealed in this chapter. So it has application to our lives today. I will talk about both as we walk through the text.
Ezekiel introduces the vision in verse one by saying, “The hand of the LORD came upon me….” God reached out put His hand on Ezekiel. The hand is the part of us that we use to extend ourselves to something. We reach out our hand when we want to touch something—when we want to influence or affect it. God put His hand on Ezekiel. It is an anthropomorphic expression. God took hold of Ezekiel. It’s possible to belong to the Lord, but not have His hand extended to you in this way. When God puts His hand on you, things happen. When the early church prayed in Acts 4:30 they asked God to stretch out His hand “to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done….” Some from the early church took the gospel to the Greeks with great success. Acts 11:21 says, “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.” They were successful because the hand of the Lord was with them. The hand of the Lord speaks of power. Strength and power are expressed through the hand.The hand of the Lord came on Ezekiel and brought him out in the Spirit of the LORD. This lets us know it is a vision.
Ezekiel continues “and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones.” Have you ever had God set you in a valley? Have you ever been in a valley full of bones? I’m talking about circumstances where death is all around you. Ezekiel is living with the Jewish captives in Babylon. Those captives are like dry bones. Their hopes and dreams are dead. Their plans have been dashed.
The Bible is very clear about how they got in that condition. It can be summed up in one word: sin. “The wages of sin is deat.” (Rom. 6:23). Long before this judgment came God pleaded with Israel over and over to repent.
Jeremiah said to Israel, (Jer. 25:4-11) And the LORD has sent to you all His servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear. 5 They said, 'Repent now everyone of his evil way and his evil doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD has given to you and your fathers forever and ever. 6 Do not go after other gods to serve them and worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands; and I will not harm you.' 7 Yet you have not listened to Me,’ says the LORD, ‘that you might provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt. 8 "Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Because you have not heard My words, 9 behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,' says the LORD, 'and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, against its inhabitants, and against these nations all around, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual desolations. 10 Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”