Summary: You and I have been provided with dry dead bones and given the responsibility to put proclaim life giving words. God will put on them flesh and skin and implant the spirit thus resurrecting the spiritually dead and ushering in a revival in our nation.
Opening Illustration: In 1904 the Atlanta newspapers reported an amazing revival of prayer sweeping the city. On November 2nd the Supreme Court of Georgia closed so people could attend prayer meetings. Stores, factories, offices and even saloons followed suit. "For two hours at midday all Denver was held in a spell … The marts of trade were deserted between noon and two o'clock this afternoon," the Denver Post reported on January 20th, 1905. One Kentucky pastor died of overwork after receiving 1,000 new members in two months. Out of a population of 50,000 only fifty unconverted adults remained in Atlantic City, New Jersey!
Can it ever happen again here in the US? Is there anything too difficult / impossible for God?
Introduction: Ezekiel, a 25 year old priest from the family of Zadok, when he, along with the king and 10,000 Jews were taken to Babylon in 598 BC. Five years later, in 593 BC, Ezekiel was third when he was called into the ministry. Ezekiel’s name means “Strengthened by God,” and there can be little doubt that the visions he was given during his 20 plus years of faithful ministry were used to challenge and strengthen his fellow exiles. In Ezekiel 37:1-14, Ezekiel sees in a vision dead men raised to life; its meaning is given Ezekiel 37:11-14. In it, the doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body is at least implied. Such a figure would only have force with those who were familiar with this idea (compare 1 Samuel 2:6; Job 19:25-27; Psalm 16:10-11; Daniel 12:1-13). The prophecy concerns not only the Israel after the flesh but also the Israel of God; it points to a home in heaven and to a life of immortality. No created power could restore human bones to life. God alone could cause them to live. Skin and flesh covered them, and the wind was then told to blow upon these bodies; and they were restored to life. The wind was an emblem of the Spirit of God, and represented his quickening powers. The vision was to encourage the desponding Jews; to predict both their restoration after the captivity, and also their recovery from their present and long-continued dispersion. It was also a clear intimation of the resurrection of the dead; and it represents the power and grace of God, in the conversion of the most hopeless sinners to himself. Try and remember for a moment, what it was like when you visited the graveyard of someone you loved. Why did you go there? Who were you visiting? What happened, or did not happen? What did you remember about them? A graveyard is where we go to remember the flesh that once clung to the bones of our loved ones who have died. God is setting the stage to have a revival in the graveyard.
What can the Spirit of God do to the dry bones (dead church)?
1. REVIVE the dead bones [vs. 1–3]
Ezekiel gives the right answer to God's question: "Lord, you know." [Apparently a Yes] Ezekiel already sees his own people in this picture, who are in need of a revival.
The valley which was full of bones - This vision of the dry bones was designed, first, as an emblem of the then wretched state of the Jews; secondly, of the general resurrection of the body. Having announced (Ezekiel 36: 24-38) the restoration of the nation, Jehovah now gives in vision and symbol the method of its accomplishment. (Ezekiel 37:11) gives the clue. The "bones" are the whole house of Israel who shall then be living. The "graves" are the nations where they dwell. The order of procedure is:
• the bringing of them in (Ezekiel 37: 12)
• their conversion (Ezekiel 37: 13)
• the filling with the Spirit (Ezekiel 37: 14)
He shows by a great miracle that God has power and will deliver his people from their captivity, in as much as he is able to give life to the dead bones and bodies and raise them up again. Can these bones live? Here implies that, humanly speaking, they could not; but faith leaves the question of possibility to rest with God, with whom nothing is impossible (Deuteronomy 32: 39). An image of Christian faith which believes in the coming general resurrection of the dead, in spite of all appearances against it, because God has said it (John 5:21; Romans 4: 17; 2 Corinthians 1: 9).
Illustration: A U.S. Lutheran bishop tells of visiting a parish church in California and finding a stirring red and orange banner on the wall. “Come Holy Spirit. Hallelujah!” it declared in words printed under a picture of a fire burning. The bishop was also interested in the sign directly underneath the banner which said: “Fire extinguisher.” So much for that parish’s commitment to spiritual renewal.