Summary: Ezekiel's Vision of the Valley
Ezekiel 37: The Valley of the Dry Bones
If you have your Bibles with you this morning, turn with me to the book of Ezekiel, chapter 37. As you’re turning, let me ask you, “What do you know about the book of Ezekiel?” Most of us might guess the following:
•It was written by Ezekiel •Ezekiel was a prophet •Ezekiel was a Jew
But beyond that, most of us don’t know a whole lot about Ezekiel. It is not one of the books we spend much time with. However, it is a book that is worth our study and attention.
Let me put the book into its historical setting. Remember back to last year as we did a whirlwind tour through the OT. God has always desired a relationship with man. He called out a people for himself, the Jews, also called the Israelites. Abraham was the father of this nation. Abraham’s line - Isaac, Jacob, Joseph -- followed and worshiped the one true God. The Jews went down to Egypt for 400 years during the days of Joseph, and became slaves there. God promised to deliver them and give them a land of their own; and God sent Moses to lead the Jews out of Egypt to the promised land.
The Jews lacked faith, and were afraid to enter the land because there were giants there. So they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years until a new generation grew up. And God gave them a land. Even to this day, there continues to be fighting and bloodshed over this land. The Israeli - Palestinian conflict continues constantly. But the land was given to the Jews by God.
They followed God, but wanted a king to be like other nations. God was grieved, but gave them Saul. He was followed by David and Solomon, and during their reign the nation of Israel was at its high point. God blessed the Jews, and Solomon had peace with all the nations around him. In the days of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, the nation was split into two halves: Israel in the north, and Judah in the south. A civil war ensued for centuries. The people of both Israel and Judah turned from worshiping God, and started to worship idols, images that they had formed with their own hands. And God brought judgment. In 722 the Assyrians, a ruthless, fierce people from the north wiped out the nation of Israel, and put the nation of Judah under siege. Hezekiah, a godly king in Judah cried out to the Lord, and the south was spared.
But the Jews continued to turn to worshiping their idols. Around 600 BC the Babylonians came down from the East, and attacked the Jews. In three waves of attacks, the people were taken captive, kidnapped, and exiled from their land. Daniel ends up in the capital city, as an advisor to Nebuchadnezzar, King of the Babylonians. Jeremiah stays with the poorest of the poor people left in the land of Judah. And Ezekiel goes with the exiled Jews into the Prisoner of War camps in Babylon. All three prophets give God’s message of judgment and repentance and hope to the Jews.
Ezekiel is a prophet who calls the people to return to the Lord. Many of the people had thought that God had deserted them. Ezekiel reminds them that THEY had deserted GOD! But God’s purpose in allowing the Jews to go into exile was not to destroy them, but to help them, to cause them to turn from their idols and to turn back to following God only. And it worked. When the Jews returned from exile after 40 years, they never again turned back to idol worship as a people. And in their captivity, Ezekiel gives them a message of hope.
If you haven’t found Ezekiel 37 by now, just look on the screen and follow along there. Let’s stand as we read God’s word. I’ll be reading today from the New International Version.
Read 37:1-14 - Pray
Today we want to talk about HOPE! It’s something we have far too little of.
Ezekiel's encounter with the Lord was one to inspire hope. But what is Ezekiel’s message? First of all,
1. The Question - Can these bones live? Ezekiel had been given a message by God to deliver to his people. Ezekiel is given a vision - it says he is brought out by the Spirit of the Lord. This terminology is usually used when the prophets receive visions from the Lord. He is taken out to a valley. A valley of dry bones.
#God is not limited by location or environment. A little boy came home one day with his report card. He had three F’s. He said, “I know it’s bad dad; what do you think the problem is: heredity or environment.