Ezekiel 37 1 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones (NO LIFE) that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.'” 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.'” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet–a vast army. 11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; (NO HOPE) we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.'”
One Nation Under One King
God does on to say in verse 15 that he is going to put Israel and Judah back together in one nation. He says in verse 22, “I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. (REPAIR) They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. (CLEANSING) They will be my people, and I will be their God. (RELATIONSHIP) 24 “‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. 25 They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; (PEACE) it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, (PROSPERITY) and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. (PRESENCE) 28 Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, (CONSECRATION) when my sanctuary is among them forever.'”
Anyone ever heard this song?
De toe bone connected to the foot bone.
De foot bone connected to the ankle bone.
De ankle bone connected to the shin bone,
De shin bone connected to the knee bone,
De knee bone connected to the thigh bone,
De thigh bone connected to the hip bone,
De hip bone connected to the back bone,
De neck bone connected to the head bone,
Now hear de Word of de Lord.
Dem bones, dem bones, are gunna walk around;
Dem bones, dem bones, are gunna walk around;
Dem bones, dem bones, are gunna walk around;
It is an African-Spiritual written to talk about this exact passage of Scripture. Let me give you some background.
Ezekiel was born just after the reforms of King Josiah. Josiah was an awesome King. He called some work days and got the Temple repaired and in good shape. He dusted off the Book of the Law that Israel had ignored for year. After reading the Law, he cleansed Judah. He was a pyrotechnic after Pastor Thom’s heart. Yes, there used to be an old house on our property down the road. J Josiah built a big bonfire and burned all of that idol worship paraphernalia. The Asherah pole that had been in the temple was pulverized into dust. The houses for the male shrine prostitutes in the Temple were destroyed. Pagan priests were kicked out of office. The altars on high places were brought low. Josiah didn’t just deal with the outward forms of worship that were a problem, but he also led the people in a time of covenant renewal to make sure their hearts were recovered for God as well. Josiah was an amazing, God-pleasing King.
In his 31st year as King, Josiah was killed in a battle against Pharaoh Neco, King of Egypt. Johoiakim, a son, was made King in his place. He wasn’t like his daddy. He was an evil and ruthless King. He imposed huge taxes on the people in order to pay tribute to Neco, King of Egypt, and to build palaces for himself. He pursued other gods and put aside all the reforms established by his father. He tolerated no criticism and to enforce silence he killed the prophet Uriah and imprisoned the prophet Jeremiah. When you kill and imprison those who deliver the word of God, you’d better watch out.
Well when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon defeated Pharaoh Neco of Egypt, Jehoiakim put himself under Babylonian rule as a vassal. But after 3 years he rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. Within 4 years Jerusalem was encircled and besieged. At the critical moment Jehoiakim died, his 18 year old son, Jehoiachin, surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar. Plunder was taken, but the city itself and its Temple were not harmed. Though it was now under Babylonian domination, Judah remained an independent nation with her own King. However, Jehoiachin, the officers, the fighting men, the craftsmen and artisans, and all the leading men of the land were deported to Babylon. Among this group of exiles was the prophet Ezekiel.
While in Babylon Ezekiel heard what happened next. Zedekiah, the next king of Judah, also rebelled against Babylon. In a desperate attempt at escape, Zedekiah led his army through a break in the wall at night and fled into the plain. The Babylonian army pursued and overtook them. The King’s sons and a large part of his army were put to death. Jerusalem was laid waste, the Temple was burned down, and the remaining people were deported. Jerusalem and Judah were no more.
Think about all of the sweeping changes that took place in Ezekiel’s lifetime. Shortly after his birth, things were going great. King Josiah got everyone on the right track and the whole nation of Israel was headed in the right direction with God. Ezekiel was training for the priesthood. He wanted to be a part of this good thing God was doing. But the pendulum totally swung the entire way. Everything turned completely around and not for the better. Forget studying for the priesthood. His role changed as he now had to become a prophet in order to speak for God and prepare the way for the pendulum to swing back the other way.
God wanted Ezekiel to understand the gravity of the situation and also wanted him to have a picture of what God intended to do for Israel, so he took him to the Valley of Dry Bones in a vision.
Whoever heard of God taking a person to a graveyard in order to speak His Word? That’s just what He did. Ezekiel had to have been overwhelmed by the scene. He stood in the middle of thousands of bones. They were the symbol of the fact that Israel was WITHOUT LIFE. Though they were alive, they were spiritually dead. The house of Israel was a skeleton of its former self, and nothing was left but a few scattered remains. I’ve heard of being “bone tired” or “cold to the bone,” but both of those expressions still refer to bones with flesh on them. We’re talking about exposed bones. Dead bones. Dry, bleached by the sun bones. You couldn’t get deader than these bones. And God asked Ezekiel the question, “Zeke, do you think these bones can live again?”
The way the question was phrased in the Hebrew language was curious. It was constructed in such a way that there was only one possible answer which was “No.” Looking in the natural at what Ezekiel saw, it was impossible. The bones were white and dry. The sun’s heat and the wind had sucked out all of the bones’ moisture. The marrow in the bones was long dried up and dead. They were old, chipped, and cracked. We would expect Ezekiel to respond accordingly, but he didn’t.
Ezekiel knew what he saw, but rather than say, “No way,” he said, “O Sovereign Lord, you know if they can, God.” “O Sovereign Lord . . .” What did the title mean that Ezekiel used? He was calling God all-powerful. Ezekiel knew that there were things that were impossible with man that were not impossible with God.
He’d already witnessed the supernatural. In previous chapters he had seen amazing visions. In the spirit realm he saw things he would never see in the natural. All were disclosed to him by God. He already knew that God’s power trumped death. He knew that God had used Elijah to bring back to life the Widow of Zarephath’s dead son. He hadn’t forgotten that Elisha had special power from God to raise the Shunammite woman’s dead son.
It may seem useless to prophesy to dead bones, but listen if God tells you to prophesy over dead bones, my guess is He is about to do something unusual, something unexpected, something spectacular. God was basically telling Ezekiel to preach to the dead. (Unfortunately it happens every Sunday in churches all across America. J Am I right?)
Luke 1:37 hangs in our home. It simply says, “With God, all things are possible.” It’s either true or it isn’t. Ezekiel knew it was true and when God told him to start speaking His Word over the dead, dry bones, Ezekiel did just that.
When God spoke His Word in the beginning creation was established. By the Word of God, everything that was created came out of nothing. Talk about mission impossible! Nothing is impossible with God when the Word of God is spoken over a situation.
Do you remember John 11? Jesus’ dear friend Lazarus had died. He had been in the grave for four days. His body was already decomposing. That body couldn’t sit up. That body couldn’t stand up. But when the Word of God was spoken and Jesus cried out, “Lazarus, come out!” Lazarus sat up, got up and came out. It wasn’t anything Lazarus did that enabled his resurrection. It was the powerful Word of God that brought life back into his body. God wasn’t doing anything new with Lazarus. He was doing what He had done from the beginning. By His Word, He brought life where there was no life.
Let me draw a little conclusion for all of us this morning: GOD’S WORD BRINGS LIFE!
Start speaking God’s Word over the dead, dry, washed out places of your life and see what will happen. Start prophesying to the dry bones in your life and see what will happen.
Those dry bones represent what each one of us is apart from Christ. In our natural state, we are born dead. That’s right. We are alive in the physical realm, but we are born spiritually dead. We are only made alive when the Word of God comes into our hearts and minds and brings the understanding that we, like those dead bones, can’t stand in God’s presence apart from the miracle of God.
Ephesians 2:1 and 4 tell us, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.” Hallelujah! He has brought life where there was spiritual death and how did He do it? He did it like He always does it, BY HIS WORD! Isn’t Jesus, the LOGOS, or Word of God?
Are there spiritually dead people living in your house? Are you working with spiritually dead people? Do you live next door to spiritually dead people? Start prophesying over them. Start speaking the Word of God to them. Start sharing the Good News of the Gospel with them. It will produce the miracle of salvation and eternal life!
So Ezekiel prophesied to the bones and what happened? “And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.” Now the bones were connected, but they were still lifeless. Prophesying to the bones was just step one. There was another step Ezekiel was to take. Did you catch the last part of verse 8? There was flesh on the bones. They were “covered,” but there was no breath in them. They looked better, but they couldn’t live without the breath. I’m going somewhere here!
Do you see what God was telling Israel? “You need my Word, but yes, but you also need my Spirit.” Spiritual life can’t be sustained without the Spirit of God. The Word of God is only lived out by the Spirit of God. So, step two was for Ezekiel to prophesy to the breath, the wind. So, Ezekiel talked to the four corners of the earth calling forth the breath of God and as he did, the flesh covered bones stand up and look like an army ready for battle (Verse 10).
The Hebrew word “ruah” is used in verses 1, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 14. It is translated “Spirit” in some places, as “breath” in other places and as “winds” in verse 9, but it is the same Hebrew word used in each of those verses.
“Ruah” describes the blowing of the wind. It speaks of breath or breathing. It tells us about the work of God’s Spirit. Ezekiel’s strange vision points to the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit. Speaking to the breath is a symbol of praying to the Holy Spirit. Ezekiel not only had to preach to the bones, but he also had to pray over them and ask the Spirit of God to come and bring new life. What is the difference between looking alive and being alive? (Dennis Marquardt) It is prayer for the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to live in the new life God desires for us to possess.
Because the Israelites were without life, they were WITHOUT HOPE. They admitted they had no hope. Look at verse 11. You can’t have hope until you have life. No wonder so many people are walking around feeling hopeless. It’s because they haven’t experienced the power of God to give them life and spiritual breath. And without hope you see no future. It is hope that helps you picture what God wants to do for you. What does God say in Jeremiah 29:13? He says, “I’m going to give you hope AND a future. You don’t have a future without hope and you don’t have hope without life. But all of them are found in Christ!
The surviving Israelites felt their national hopes had been dashed. Israel had “died” in the flames of Babylon’s attack, and had no hope of resurrection. They were once a great nation and now they were nothing! Ezekiel’s vision showed that God had everything necessary in His power to bring Israel back to life. Israel’s new life would depend on God’s power, not outward circumstances. Look at verse 13. God says, “I will open your graves and bring you up from them.” I will cause resurrection to be at work in your lives! It’s a total work when God causes resurrection. They were dead as a nation and God was going to raise them up again. They were dead spiritually and God was going to raise them up again.
Left to themselves, Israel was dead and would stay dead. But because God was going to intervene on their behalf, they had the assurance, they had hope that things were going to change. I find it very interesting in Proverbs 3:5-8 that a person’s bones are mentioned. “5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Trusting God, hoping in Him, acknowledging Him, following Him, rejecting evil—it will bring life to our bones just as the vision Ezekiel participated in was promising to give life to the dry bones in that valley.
It doesn’t matter how dead your situation looks. If you are in Christ, you are NEVER without hope!
God promised Israel new life. That’s RESURRECTION! God promised Israel new hope. That’s RECUSSITATION! It meant they could dream again. It meant they could believe again. It meant hope had been reborn in their lives. And God went on to detail everything He was going to do for the Israelites.
Look at verse 22: ““I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.”
This verse speaks about REPAIR.
Israel had been divided and separated. God promised to bring them back together. Listen, new life and new hope come as God repairs that which is torn asunder in our lives. New life and new hope appear as God begins to fix that which is broken. Maybe your life is broken in some places. The hope I have for you today is that God accepts broken people and knows how to fix them!
Look at verse 23: “They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them.”
This verse speaks about CLEANSING.
God couldn’t offer Israel new life and new hope without cleansing them. Sin had defiled them. They weren’t just separated from each other as a nation, but they were also separated from God. Notice Who it is that does the cleansing. The Israelites couldn’t save themselves. The Israelites couldn’t cleanse themselves.
We are no different. We can’t save ourselves. We can’t cleanse ourselves. But through Jesus’ blood we are made clean!
Look at the end of verse 23: “They will be my people, and I will be their God.” Here God is talking about RELATIONSHIP. Being in a relationship with God involves more than merely knowing Him. It involves belonging to Him. When I am in a relationship with God, there are amazing benefits that become mine. I carry life and hope around with me because Jesus walks with me. He protects me. He provides for me. He strengthens me. He equips me.
Check out verse 26: “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it will be an everlasting covenant.” PEACE It’s an everlasting peace. It’s an ongoing peace. It’s an uninterrupted peace. No matter what happens in life, God promises His peace. We have peace because Jesus is our peace. He has made peace with the Father on our behalf and we don’t have to worry about our position with God. It is secure.
How about the end of verse 26? “I will establish them. . . ” That verse speaks of SECURITY. Who here doesn’t want to be established? I looked the word up in the dictionary and saw words like “to secure in a position,” “to install,” “to make firm or secure,” “to cause to be recognized and accepted.”
Anyone here “established” in Christ this morning? God’s Word tells me I am secure in a position of grace and power. I have been installed into God’s heavenly family. The Father recognizes me and I am accepted as His beloved. I am established! Hallelujah. I am free from condemnation (Rom. 8:1-2). I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances (Rom. 8:28). No one can ever separate me from the love of God (Rom. 8:31-39). I have been established, anointed and sealed by God (II Cor. 1:21-22). I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:1-4). I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me (Phil. 1:6). I am a citizen of heaven (Phil. 3:20) I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (II Tim. 1:7). I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me (I John 5:18).
What about the middle of verse 26? “I will increase their numbers?” That speaks of PROSPERITY. I’m going to flourish. I’m going to advance. I’m going to increase.
How? Look at the end of 26 and the beginning of 27: “I will put my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.” These verses tell us it’s the PRESENCE of God that will make it all possible.
And finally, verse 28, “Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy.” This last verse speaks about CONSECRATION. You will be special, valued, set apart for a special purpose all because God will give you New Life and a New Hope.
Are your bones feeling dry this morning? Are you dislocated from the Body of Christ? Is prayer and Bible study getting harder instead of easier? When was your last spiritual conversation with a friend? Are you finding yourself making excuses for your choices and lifestyle? What was the last sermon you heard or Scripture you read that made a difference in your life? Does it bother you that your workplace, your home, your neighborhood, may be filled with dead bones? Does gaining money or possessions have your interest more than knowing God? If you died today, do you know you would go to heaven? I didn’t say, “Do you hope you will, but do you know you will?”
It’s time to talk to some dry bones this morning. It’s time to prophesy to the dead places in your life and ask God to reconnect some pieces. It’s time to ask for the Spirit of God to come and breathe new life into those dry, cracked places. It’s time be repaired, cleansed, and at peace. Let God establish, prosper and consecrate you to be holy unto Him. Are you without life and without hope? You don’t have to leave here today without them. Can these bones live again? Yes, they can.