Hope in Dead Men’s Bones

In God’s great narrative that we call the Scriptures, there are a lot of ups and downs.  There are a lot of stories of great faith, obedience, and love; also many stories of failure, succumbing to the human condition (brokenness), and plain idiocy. The amazing part is that God uses us, even in our worst moments to bring glory to His name and bring praise and honor to Himself.

The prophet Ezekiel was a faithful man living in a very faithless time.  Ezekiel was deported from his home in Israel and relocated amid the refugee Jewish people into the Babylonian Empire.  He had seen men, women, and children die at the hands of the marauding Babylonian army.  His contemporaries and predecessors had long warned about this by the inspiration of God that if the people didn’t come back to God, He had no choice to punish their sin.  God is perfect and holy, so he can do whatever he wants, by the way.

On the heels of numerous indictments from God against the nations, there is a passage about hope and restoration in chapter thirty-six.  Right after that, there is a passage that kind of stands out—the “Valley of Bones” section in Ezekiel thirty-seven.  God asks Ezekiel after taking him to the a valley full of bones, “Can these bones live?” (37:3).  After Ezekiel answers, God says this:

“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’” (37:4-6).

After this, the bones come together, muscle and tendon connect, joints rejoin, and the bones form back into skeletons. If that isn’t enough to make your skin crawl, the next thing that happens is flesh is restored and before you know it, “a vast army” (37:10).

Now, if I were in charge, at this point I would unleash this undead horror upon an unsuspecting village, however, I’m not God and that’s not what happens. Instead, God uses an incredible object lesson to show Ezekiel something:  God’s not given up on His people yet—He’s still in charge, and its faithful men (and women) who will be used to bring about the necessary change.

Check this out:

“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.’” (37:11-14).

The point is this:  God is in control, not you and not your circumstances?  Things may seem bleak and hopeless but remember, God can raise you out of your circumstances.  If you feel like Ezekiel, in a hopeless time in a faithless civilization staring down into a valley of millions of bones baking in the sun wondering where it all went wrong, remember this:  All God has to do is breath His life and Spirit into your life, heart, and circumstances, and life is restored.,  That’s what Jesus came to do!  He didn’t come to make bad people good, but rather to bring dead people (and their bones) back to life! He didn’t come to make whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones either (Mt. 23:27), meaning that we can’t get caught up on our traditions and comforts in our faith.

I challenge you this week to apply this truth to your life!  Do you feel defeated?  Feel like things in church, work, or life in general are looking grim?  Let God breath His breath of life on whatever it is! Like the valley of dry bones, it’s not hopeless—not by a long shot!  When God breathes in your life, everything changes!  Just something to think about.

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