The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O LORD God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the LORD God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. - Ezekiel 37:1-10
Sometimes it can feel like nothing can go right. Like all hope is lost.
Israel was now in Babylonian captivity, Their home had been attacked and destroyed, all survivors have been deported to Babylon. The nation had become so defeated, discouraged, and dry; that they say:
Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. - Ezekiel 37:11
Like many people today, they were at the end of their rope. They couldn’t see a future for themselves anymore. How sad, they once had a purpose, they once had experienced enthusiasm, they once had felt the presence of God, but somewhere along the way (like Peter while walking on the sea with Jesus – Matthew 14:29-31), they took their eyes off of the Lord.
To you, who have lost hope and have lost your way and have cut yourself off from the blessings of God. I have good news for you today. God want’s to restore your hope. Can defeated, dead, dry bones live? That is the question that we will ponder today:
The Lord asks Ezekiel a question
Can these bones live? We know that God knows everything (Proverbs 15:3). The Lord doesn’t ask us questions because he doesn’t know the answers. When I worked for the Kroger Company, we had a certain district manager who employed a similar technique that God is using here. You see, he would come out and visit the store, and upon arriving he would always ask a barrage of questions. Questions like, what are your sales today? How are your sales for the week? He would say things like, I notice that you look low on grapes, how many came on your last truck? The thing about all of these questions is this: He already knew all the answers. He would look at and memorize all the reports before he even came to the store. He would ask those questions to see if we knew the answers. To him, it was a way to train us to always know our numbers and to look at the reports on a daily basis.
God uses questions to teach us things. He uses questions to kick start our thought processes.
The natural answer to the question:
The natural response would be no. Of course, they can’t live, it’s too late for them, they don’t have any flesh or organs, they are all dried up. They are just a bunch of dead bones. They are very dry bones. How long does it take for a Human bone to lose all of its moisture? I am not sure, but it takes a while. These were not “fresh” bones, they had been there in that valley for quite some time.
Ezekiel’s response to the question:
You will notice in verse 3, that Ezekiel did not respond in the way that most people would have responded. He did not give the natural response that we discussed above. Ezekiel knew that God could cause these bones to live if that is what he wished to do.
Nothing is too hard for God
Ezekiel knew that nothing was impossible with God. His response was the response of a Man of faith. He didn’t respond to the positive or the negative, he just simply realized that God already knew the answer and had already decided what he would do.
Nothing is impossible with God, remember when Mary asked the Angel Gabriel in Luke 1:34, How can these things be? when he informed her that she, a virgin, would conceive and give birth to a son. Gabriels told her: “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). Again, when the disciples asked “Who then can be saved?” and Jesus answered them “with men it is impossible, but not with God. For with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:26-27). The Bible says that without Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5), but with Christ, all things are possible (Philippians 4:13). For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: -(Ecclesiastes 9:4)
With God, there is hope even when there appears to be no life
When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. - John 11:33-44
Lazarus had been dead for four days! When Jesus called his name and told him to come forth, Lazarus was resurrected. In a situation where there was no hope and no life; Jesus brought hope, and gave life. He want’s to do bring life into your hopeless situation as well.
What are you facing that looks hopeless, or impossible today?
If there is going to be hope for defeated, dead, dry bones to live
They must receive a fresh word from the Lord (Ezekiel 37:4-9).
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. - Isaiah 55:11
God gave a message that was designed especially just for these dead, dry bones. The man of God was given the assignment to preach to a bunch of dead, dry bones.
Imagine what Ezekiel’s thoughts must have been
As Ezekiel looked out at a vast sea of dead, dry bones, I imagine that he thought to himself, Why would you have me preach to a bunch of dead, dry bones Lord? What difference could it possibly make? These are just bones! They don’t even have ears to ear, they don’t have the ability to listen or to pay attention. These bones don’t have any brains, if they could somehow hear the message, they couldn’t possibly respond. But notice that Ezekiel did not respond in this way. Ezekiel obeyed the Lord and preached the message that he was commanded to preach, exactly as he was told, without any alterations whatsoever. (Ezekiel 37:7)
Two characteristics of the message that Ezekiel preached
The message contained a piercing revelation
The message pierced through those dead, dry bones. The message pierced past the fact that they didn’t have ears to ear, pierced past the fact that they didn’t have a mind to pay attention. Somehow those bones received the Word of the Lord.
Before salvation, we were all dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1), and as being dead Spiritually, we couldn’t receive the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). But God reached down for us, he reached way down for us (Ephesians 2:11-16).
Dead bones will not reach out to God, we have to reach out to the community and reach down to them. Until we understand where they are, we will not be moved to reach them with the Gospel. We need to get out of our comfort zones and reach out to the Lost. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation:
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. - 2 Corinthians 5:18-20
The second characteristic of the message
The Word of God that was preached had a powerful response.
So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. - Ezekiel 37:7-8
Notice the order of events:
- Came together
Most of us say to God, If you put it together then I will praise you. We have it backward. We need to learn to praise God first and then wait for him to fix it. We need to follow the example of Paul and Silas in Acts 16:
And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. - Acts 16:20-26
They didn’t wait for God to bust them free of their bondage before deciding to praise him. They praised him, then came the shaking and finally they were loosed. Consider this example from Hudson Taylor:
When Hudson Taylor went to China, he made the voyage on a sailing vessel. As it neared the channel between the southern Malay Peninsula and the island of Sumatra, the missionary heard an urgent knock on his stateroom door. He opened it, and there stood the captain of the ship. “Mr. Taylor,” he said, “we have no wind. We are drifting toward an island where the people are heathen, and I fear they are cannibals.” “What can I do?” asked Taylor. “I understand that you believe in God. I want you to pray for wind.” “All right, Captain, I will, but you must set the sail.” “Why that’s ridiculous! There’s not even the slightest breeze. Besides, the sailors will think I’m crazy.” But finally, because of Taylor’s insistence, he agreed. Forty-five minutes later he returned and found the missionary still on his knees. “You can stop praying now,” said the captain. “We’ve got more wind than we know what to do with!”
When the people of God preach the truth
When the people of God preach the truth, it’s going to cause some noise. Sometimes it will bring revival to the hearts and minds of believers and to the community at large. Sometimes it will bring the opposition to the work of the Lord and sometimes it will bring both revival and opposition at the same time! But one thing is sure; when the truth is proclaimed, there is going to be some shaking!
There was no breath in them
Next, notice that after the bones reassembled into skeletons, and after the sinews and the flesh came back upon them, that Ezekiel was now surrounded by an army of lifeless bodies.
An accurate description of many churches today, they have all the right pieces in place, they have all the right programs, they have the right Bible, they have learned how to dress appropriately, but they are still dead.
I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. - Revelation 3:1I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: - Revelation 3:15-17
They look good on the outside, but they don’t have the breath of life. They needed to receive a new Spirit (Romans 8:11).
God gives them (and us) life to fight
They became an army (Ezekiel 37:10). God gives us Spiritual life so that we can be soldiers in his army:
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. - 2 Timothy 2:3-4
God didn’t save us and breathe life into us, for us to just sit around watching others do the work. He saved us to commission us into his army. We come to him, he gives us the breath of life and then he sends us into the fight. Not by might, nor by power by my Spirit, saith the Lord.
God can send new life into your dry bone situation
No matter what your dry bone situation is, the Lord wants to send new life into it. God can breathe new life through his Spirit and through his Word into our lives.
Make some noise for the Lord. Shake things up for his cause and He will put it all together.
Our hope at Irvington Bible Baptist Church is that this podcast provided some encouragement and has helped you to develop a closer relationship with the LORD Jesus Christ.