Ezekiel was a prophet at the same time as Jeremiah. When he was 26 years old he was taken into captivity to Babylon along with about 10,000 of his fellow Jews. In the fifth year of captivity Ezekiel received a call to be a prophet of the Lord and for the next 22 years he ministered to his fellow captives.
If you were to split his prophetic ministry into two halves and used the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem at 587 BC as the dividing line it would look like this:
1. Prior to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem Ezekiel spoke of DOOM.
2. Then after 587 BC Ezekiel was a prophet of HOPE.
Isn’t that what we need sometimes?
Not doom. We have enough of that.
I think we need more Hope.
Especially when we’re feeling spiritually dry, dusty, or dead. Lord, give us hope! When we’re in a spiritual valley, we need glimpses of perspective that comes through hope.
I think we all understand the concept of “valleys.” This is where we feel trapped, confused and discouraged. I imagine that’s how the children of Israel felt while they were in captivity…until one of their own, Ezekiel, started to speak hope into their valley.
That’s what he did in chapter 37, the famous vision called ‘The Valley of Dry Bones.” It was given to him more than 2,500 years ago for the Babylonian exiles. I think the words still apply to us today.
Here is the Vision:
The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?
“O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”
Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.
Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”
So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.
God’s question to Ezekiel is an important one: “Can these dry bones live?” I think this is a question He is still asking us today. Now, from a human point of view the answer to this question is obviously NO. But with divine perspective, we know nothing is impossible.
“God gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” Romans 4:17
God takes that which is dead and makes it live again! How does this happen? I believe the text gives us two ways:
1. The Word of God
2. The Spirit of God
As Ezekiel walked through the valley of dry bones the Lord told him to prophesy (which means “to speak”) to the bones. He said to the bones: “Hear the Word of the Lord.” As he spoke the Word of the Lord the bones started coming together with sinew, muscles, and skin.
Imagine this scene. Freaky and weird, huh? Especially for a good Old Testament Jewish prophet, because he isn’t supposed to touch dead things! But when God’s Word gets in contact with dead people it causes life.
Is it doing that in you? If not, then are you in close enough contact with God’s Word, and is it getting into you?
What is the Word of God saying to you? God is speaking, but are you listening? When we listen to God and his Word, it has the power to pull the dry, fractured parts of our life together. Things start to make sense again.
In a nutshell: The Word forms us.
When your life is falling apart, when you are in spiritual valley of dry bones then be quick to get in contact with the Word of God and let it form you.
Notice then in the text that the bodies that had formed didn’t have breath so God said to Ezekiel: “Speak to the breath and tell it to breathe on these dead bodies so they can live again.”
In a nutshell: The Spirit fills us.
The BONES became a BODY with the Word of God and the body became an ARMY with the Spirit of God.
Friends, we need BOTH! Oh to be formed with the Word AND filled with the Spirit!
Join me in this pursuit. Join me in crying out to the Lord: AWAKE MY SOUL.