Today, I am reading and commenting on Ezekiel 37-38.
Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones is a powerful message. As I read it I saw two important messages for us. First I want to set the stage. In his vision, Ezekiel is taken to a valley full of human bones which are scattered about. They are not arranged as skeletons and they are completely dried out. There is no flesh left on them at all, not even connective tissue. Then God asks him if these bones can once more become living people. And here is where we learn the first lesson. The obvious answer is “No”. That is even the answer which we would think God was expecting. However, Ezekiel does not give that answer. Instead, he replies that God alone knows the answer to that question. You could view this as avoiding the question, but that is not what Ezekiel was doing here. Ezekiel was open to the possibility of God bringing life to these bones. He recognized that if God wanted to bring these bones back to life He could and would do so. Would we have been open to the possibility of God bringing life to those dry bones? How often do we throw up our hands and walk away from the “dry bones”?
This brings me to the second message I see in this passage: with God nothing is truly dead if He wants it to live. When God gave Ezekiel the message to preach to the dry bones, he did so. Ezekiel preached God’s message that He was going to bring these bones back to life and the bones from each skeleton came together from where they were scattered throughout the valley, muscle and flesh formed over the bones, and skin formed over the flesh. However, that was not enough. The bodies which had formed at the prophetic words spoken by Ezekiel still did not live. So, God gave him a second message to speak. It was only after the second message that the bodies formed from the dry bones came to life. And this leads to a follow up to the question I asked at the end of the first paragraph; Do we keep on preaching God’s word when the bodies form, but do not come to life? We need to be persistent in preaching God’s life giving message. And just now I saw another related mistake we sometimes make. What if Ezekiel had said, “Well, the bones formed into bodies. They may not be alive, but that’s an improvement. I’ll just leave well enough alone.” It is not enough for people to change away from the worst of their sinful behavior. We need to keep preaching to them until the Holy Spirit breathes Life into them.