The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley, and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley, and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”
Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.” ‘ ”
So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.
Also, He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” ‘ ” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’ ” (Ezekiel 37:1-14)
Life To Dry Bones
The hope of Israel had been destroyed when they learned of the destruction of the house of God in 586 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, conquered Jerusalem. It was a blow to their hopes of regaining favor in the sight of the Lord. The king of the Chaldeans had killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary with no compassion for the young man or virgin. Aged and weak were killed. All the articles from the Temple were taken to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar burned the house of God, broke down the walls of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire and destroyed all its precious possessions. The land lay in waste. Those who survived the carnage were taken to Babylon as slaves never to return.
Israel was a dead nation. There was no life, no hope and no joy among the Jews. Jeremiah had prophesied the doom of the nation would last seventy years. Nine years before the Temple was destroyed, the first group of captives was taken to Babylon. With the news of the fall of Jerusalem, all hope was lost. The plight of the people of Judah and Benjamin came as a result of the sinful character of the once-prized nation of Israel. Following the death of Solomon, the nation of Israel fell into rebellion and civil war. Ten tribes gave their allegiance to Jeroboam and the remaining two tribes to Rehoboam. It would only take two hundred years for the northern tribes to be destroyed when the Assyrians captured Samaria and just over one hundred years later when Babylon marched into Jerusalem.
Ezekiel’s vision was a powerful testimony to the lost hope of Israel and the power of God to give life to that which was dead. The bones the prophet saw in the valley were not just bones; they were very dry bones. God asked the prophet if the bones could live and the prophet answered correctly that only the Lord would have the power to resurrect the bones. When Ezekiel prophesied according to the will of the Lord, the valley of very dry bones became an exceedingly great army as the bodies were recreated with flesh and blood and the breath of life. Israel had given up hope lamenting their sins as dry bones without life and the nation cut off from the glory of God. Salvation would only come through the power of God and the valley of dry bones instilled hope in the hearts of the faithful that God would save them and give them life. Many years later, a remnant returns to Israel according to the word of the Lord.
There is a figure found in the valley of dry bones that appeals to the nature of all men. Sin has ravished the spirit of men to destroy them and take away their life. Because of sin, the heart of a man has become like dry bones in a valley. There is nothing dry bones can do to gain life. Without the life-giving stream of God’s grace, the dry bones decay and are destroyed. Only through the power of God can life come to dry bones – especially very dry bones.
What the prophet Ezekiel saw in the vision is what is found when a soul comes to know the power of Christ’s blood and the redeeming love of the Father. All men are nothing more than very dry bones. Sin has destroyed the life of man both physically and spiritually. Jesus Christ came to give life and to offer the fountain of living water. Dry bones cannot give life to themselves. God can. Man cannot change his sinful state apart from the power of God. In the sacrifice of Jesus, the Father offers man the hope of life and everlasting joy.
The world is full of dry bones. Sadly, most of those dry bones refuse the grace of God and perish eternally. Jesus offers the gift of life through His blood for those who would accept His authority and His word. There is only one way to the Father because there is only one breath of life that can give life to dry bones: Jesus Christ. Life without the Son of God is death. There is no hope, there is no joy and there is no promise of resurrection. The breath of God will give life to your soul. Let the grace of God fill your dry existence of this worldly life with His love and find life in Jesus Christ. Can dry bones live? You decide.