Summary: Ezekiel’s vision of the Valley of Dry Bones and what it means to us today
Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones
Story: Girolamo Savonarola was one of the greatest preachers of the fifteenth century.
He preached in the beautiful cathedral of Florence in Italy, which contained a magnificent marble statue of the Virgin Mary.
At the very start of his ministry there, Savonarola noticed an elderly woman who used to come and pray regularily before that statue of the Virgin Mary.
One day, he took aside an elderly priest who had been serving in the cathedral for many years and said,
"Look how devoted this woman is. She comes every day to offer prayers to the blessed Mother of Jesus. What a marvellous act of faith."
But the elderly priest replied,
"Do not be deceived by what you see. Many years ago when the sculptor needed a model to pose for this statue of the blessed Mother, he hired a beautiful young woman to sit for him. This devout worshipper you see here everyday is that young woman. She is worshipping who she used to be."
We cannot rest on past acheivements
God is not interested on what we USED to be or on the externals in our lives.
He is interested in our present attitudes.
Our OT passage this evening I believe primarily with our present our attitudes, not our past ones or our future ones
For me the Vision sums up three attitudes that mankind can have to God.
Two of them bring DEATH and the last alone is LIFE.
1. The first part of the vision is the vision of the Dry Bones
The vision open in verse 1 with Ezekiel standing in a valley full of dry bones
There is no life or even a pretence of life in these bones
This symbolises for me a coldness and indifference to God.
It talks to me of selfish living, summed up by the famous expression:
Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.
Which is itself an amalgamation of two biblical sayings:
The first is from Ecclesiastes
Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry Ecclesiastes 8. 15 (AV)
And the second from Isaiah
Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die. Isaiah 22. 13 (AV)
But the dry bones also reminds us that there are times where we allow a coldness to creep into our lives towards God.
We don’t notice it at first but as it creeps up on us it bring death.
2. The second part of the vision is the vision of Lifeless Bodies
Ezekiel, as he stands in the valley of Dry Bones is commanded to prophesy to the bones, and they bones rattle into shape and become lifeless bodies
This for me symbolises the religious man who strives to please God by his own actions.
Religion looks fine on the outside but it is DEAD.
For those of us who are Christians, it challenges us to consider if we have grown lukewarm in our Christian lives.
3. The third part of the vision is the Breath of God
This symbolises for me a Life in tune with God.
Ezekiel is called to prophesy so that the breath of God comes into the lifeless bodies to give them life
Living the way God wants us to live. He wants to give us a new heart.
You can’t find a spiritual life on your own. God has to give it to you.
For the Christian, it symbolises having a right attitude to God, being on fire for him.
The challenge to us today is where are we?
Let us look at this in a bit more detail:
1. The Dry Bones.
Nowadays, particularly in England, there are large numbers of people who are utterly indifference to God
They live just to please themselves.
And at the end of the day there are just scattered pieces of our lives about.
Take a couple of areas.
Story: The late Liz Taylor once said in a magazine that she thought she was a very moral person.
She would only sleep with the person she was married too. After seven husbands, that was bit of a joke
Free living and divorce has become so easy that when we are tired of our partner we just change him or her.
Discarded people who become lonely.
Steve Turner wrote a poem, which I think is so apposite:
She said she’d love me for eternity
But managed to reduce it to six months for good behaviour.
She said the future was all ours
But the deeds were made out in her name.
She said we fitted like hand in glove
But when the warm weather came along such accessories weren’t needed.
She said I was the only one who understood her completely,