Lord, Your restorative power amazes Your people.
Read EZEKIEL 37:1–14
The Valley of Dry Bones
37 The hand of the Lord was on 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 that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “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[a] 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, breath, from the four winds 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 people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: 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.’”
a Ezekiel 37:5 The Hebrew for this word can also mean wind or spirit (see verses 6-14).
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Give thanks to God that Jesus came that we might have life and have it to the full (John 10:10).
This spectacular vision probably takes place in the same valley as in 3:22,23, from which Ezekiel has returned unable to speak or leave his home for several years. The story is divided into two sections: Ezekiel recounts what he sees and does; then, in verses 11–14, the vision is interpreted. The description is reminiscent of the images of the countless human bones found after the fall of the despotic Cambodian Pol Pot regime in the late 1970s. The vision is particularly appalling to Ezekiel, because deprivation of a burial site in the Ancient Near East is the ultimate degradation, indicating the perpetuation of suffering into the afterlife. Thus, the bones could belong to those who were cursed, objects of divine judgment (Christopher Wright, The Message of Ezekiel, 304). However, a likely alternative meaning is that for the Israelites, exiled by God’s judgment for over ten years, all hope is as dead as dry bones.
God’s question to Ezekiel (3) appears ridiculous but for Israel’s belief that God reigns over life and death (e.g., Deut. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:6; Psa. 104:29,30). The prophet’s answer, though, is cautious—recognizing the magnitude of the task. Note that although Ezekiel uses the language of resurrection of the dead, at the time there would have been little belief in its likelihood: “He had the knowledge not to deny God’s ability but he lacked the faith to believe in it” (John B. Taylor, Ezekiel, 237). Is this perhaps a familiar experience of ours when faced with the choice to exercise faith?
What happened next makes Ezekiel’s eyes grow wide! As he without quibble obeys God, the bones are not just reformed, but acquire life itself, forming a vast living army. With Ezekiel’s cooperation, the Lord, the giver of life and hope, has transformed the situation. He is the same today: bringing transformation into seemingly hopeless situations.
The issue of human well-being is currently topical. How is “life in all its fullness” more than this? How could you be a life-bringer to others?
Lord, we fully understand the caliber of miracle the restoration of national Israel is after centuries of dormancy. We stand with Your people Israel.
Book and Author Intros
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.