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. 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. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 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.’”
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. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
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.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
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.’ 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. 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.’”
The story of the dry bones coming to life in Ezekiel is one of the more interesting Old Testament stories and one wonders what it was like to hear God tell you to call dead dry bones to life.
The dry bones in this story represent the house of Israel, God’s chosen people, not those who had died but the living, who felt there was no hope of recovering as the Nation of Israel. The dry bones can also represent people in today’s culture whose mind is set on the flesh and have lost sight of God, due to sin.
There are two life-affirming lessons to be gleaned from Ezekiel’s vision.
First, the Lord describes the steps involved in bringing the bones back to life. “I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.” This verse harkens us back to Genesis 1:27 and 2:7 when Scripture describes God creating man and woman in His image and ‘breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being’. The similarities in the descriptions is there to reinforce the truth that God is the Creator of man, a truth that both the Israelites and people in today’s culture often forget.
Not only is God the Creator of life, He is also the redeemer of broken lives, then and now. His desire to call dry bones back to life reveals God’s love for the broken and the lost, those dead in their sins. He sees the desperation of the Israelites who have lost hope due to their sinful choices, and in His love for them, He exercises His divine power over natural order. God also takes it a step further in verse 14 when His power is revealed in His tenderness and mercy. “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act,” says the LORD.” His power, authority, and love and compassion are revealed in one sentence that also emphasizes His desire to be in relationship with us.
This is what people, then and now, need to hear and believe. God created us and wants to redeem us, making us His own. The question is – will we be like Ezekiel and speak to the dry bones?
Lord, give me the courage to speak to the lost. Help me to listen for your Holy Spirit’s promptings and have the faith to obey what you tell me to say or do. People hurt by life’s challenges need to know You love them. Help me be willing to tell them about You and Your great love. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
This month’s reflections are written by Deacon Georgette Forney. She was ordained to the vocational diaconate in the Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy in the Anglican Church in North America in 2014. As well as serving as President of Anglicans for Life, She is also the Co-Founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, an effort to raise awareness about the physical, spiritual, and emotional harm abortion does to women and men and to help those who are hurting after abortion find healing.