Summary: While you are alive, you have hope. There is no sin you have committed that you cannot be cleansed from. There are no failures that God cannot raise you from.
Ezekiel 37:1-14 Raising Dry Bones
8/2/15 D. Marion Clark
We move now to the valley of dry bones. Let's see what "dem bones" have to teach us.
Verses 1-6 set the stage.
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. 2 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. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 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.”
“The hand of the LORD was upon me,” is Ezekiel’s way of saying that he was taken into a vision by the Holy Spirit. This happens seven times in his book. He sees in this valley thousands of skeletons, indicating that the bodies had been dead for a long time, enough to be reduced to bones parched in the sun. These are not bodies that can merely be resuscitated. They are but bones, dry bones, no longer even connected together.
Can they live? Ezekiel gives a wise reply: (v 3) “O Lord GOD, you know.” If anyone else asked, the answer is obvious – of course not! But when the Lord God asks…well, as Jesus once said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27).
Now, what is going to be significant is not only what God is about to do, but how he does it. Ezekiel is to prophesy; he is to proclaim the word of the Lord. That is what it means to prophesy. He is to prophesy to the bones, as though they are able to hear, and indeed, they are commanded to hear the word of the Lord. So Ezekiel follows orders.
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them.
Ezekiel prophesies and power goes forth, first to connect the bones and then, step by step, cover them with sinews, then flesh, then skin. There is now a valley of bodies but still no life.
But there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
The Hebrew word for breath is ruah. It is the same word for spirit and for wind. The word first appears in Genesis 1:2: The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit (ruah) of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
The translators translate ruah as breath because the passage is about giving life, which we associate with breathing. No breath, then no life. And yet, Scripture teaches that it is the Spirit of God who gives life, the Spirit who is like the wind. Recall Jesus’ words to Nicodemus:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:5-8).
To be born again – to be given life – requires the work of the Holy Spirit who is like the wind. So, Ezekiel prophesies again, this time to the breath. Breath comes into the bodies of flesh, and they rise to life, “an exceedingly great army.” Who is this army? What does this vision mean? Our third section explains.