Summary: The Lord gives us hope through Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones. Just as through his Word the Lord breathed life into those bones, the Lord breathes his Holy Spirit into us through his Word to give us a living hope.
The Lord Breathes His Holy Spirit into Us
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. The Word of God through which the Holy Spirit guides our hearts and minds today is recorded in Ezekiel 37:1-14:
Dear friends in Christ Jesus, our Lord,
These words from Ezekiel 37 are not a scene from a horror movie. They have nothing to do with Halloween or people dressed up as skeletons. This scene that Ezekiel saw was a message of comfort. Our modern mindset, conditioned by Hollywood, may have a hard time seeing that. So let’s step back and place ourselves in Ezekiel’s day.
Ezekiel was a prophet a little after 600 B.C. These were traumatic times for God’s people. Half of the nation of Israel had already been destroyed over a century and a quarter earlier. They had turned away from the Lord and worshipped other gods. Only the people of Judah remained. But they did not learn from the example of the others. They, too, turned away from the Lord, so the Lord sent the Babylonians against them. Now the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezer, were dealing death blows to the people of Judah.
Nebuchadnezer had taken many of the people into exile. Ezekiel was one of them. They were taken away from their home, away from the land in which the Savior was promised to be born. They were resettled in Babylon. During the exile word reached them that Jerusalem was destroyed. The Lord’s temple was leveled.
This news crushed all hope they had. Not only did they lose the hope of returning home, but their spiritual hopes were devastated as well. Their religious life was tied to the temple that was no more. God’s promise to send the Savior was tied to the land God had promised to Abraham and tied to the family line of King David. How could the Lord send the Savior to be born from David’s family in the town of Bethlehem, if David’s descendants were in exile? No wonder the people were saying, “Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off” (Ezekiel 37:11). They felt like bones that had been dead so long that all the moisture was dried up out of them. No hope.
Through this vision of dried bones the Lord teaches them the he breathes his Holy Spirit into them through his word to give them life. That is what the Lord wants to teach you and me today as well: The Lord breathes his Holy Spirit into us through his word to give us life.
We may not experience exile, but don’t we at times struggle with feelings of hopelessness? Do you feel that your life is in a rut? You go through the same routine each day: Getting up, doing some work, coming home, going to bed. Getting out of the rut seems hopeless. Life seems meaningless. Does life seem boring and whatever excitement does come doesn’t really satisfies but quickly passes so that you are hopelessly bored? Do you struggle with pain or an illness or a disability and some days it just seems too much to put up with ? Do you feel rejected, alone or isolated so that establishing a meaningful relationship seems hopeless? Does your conscience accuse you and trying to lead you to give up hope that God could forgive you?
If you are struggling with feelings of hopelessness now or whenever they may come in the future, think of the valley of dry bones and see what the Lord can do for you. The Lord breathes his Spirit, the Holy Spirit) into you through his word to give you life. That’s the theme we focus on this morning. The Lord breathes his Holy Spirit into us. First we see that he does it 1) through his word. Then we want to see that he does it 2) to give life. The Lord breathes the Holy Spirit into us.
1) Through his word
He does it through his word. Dead bones can not come to life by themselves. That’s obvious. Human power can not bring them back to life either. Only the Lord’s power can. And that’s why when the Lord asks Ezekiel whether these bones can life, he answers, “Lord God, you know” (Ezekiel 37:3). If the Lord wanted them to live, he could do it.
But notice how the Lord does it. He doesn’t simply make it happen. Rather he tells Ezekiel to prophesy. Now the word translated prophesy doesn’t necessarily mean “to foretell the future.” Often in the Bible the word prophesy means to speak a message from God. So instead of foretelling it means telling forth God’s Word. The Lord’s command to Ezekiel to prophesy is his command to speak his word.