You Shall Live
The hand of the Lord came upon Ezekiel again, and in this vision, He found himself in the middle of a valley that was filled with bones. This sight must have been unsettling, to say the least. This valley is a place of death and reminders litter the ground in every direction. These skeletal remains were never buried and were in full view of any who would approach this valley. The bones were not covered in sinew; they were dry and in an advanced state of decomposition. Bones were everywhere, and as Ezekiel toured the valley taking in the grisly remains with his eyes, the Lord asks a question, "Son of man, can these bones live?" Ezekiel does not offer any assessment about what the bones can or cannot do because he would have known about the experiences that Elijah and Elisha had with bodily resurrection. Ezekiel understands that reanimation would depend entirely on the Lord and so he wisely acknowledges that God knows. The Lord instructs Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones and tell them to hear the word of the Lord. The message was clear, God who breathed life into man from the beginning will do it again. The bones would live and be completely restored to life. What an absurd command. What an impossibility. Ezekiel demonstrates great faith and obedience. Ezekiel was not lying down in green pastures, he was in the valley of death and commanded to speak to the bones of the dead in the valley. These bones had no life, but Ezekiel believed that life comes from the Creator and he obeys. When he spoke, he heard a rattling sound and the bones began to move together and join in the correct position. Ezekiel watched as sinews and flesh covered these dry, lifeless bones. These bones looked like bodies, but they still had no life in them. The Lord told Ezekiel to prophesy and call for the Spirit to fill these bodies with the breath of life. Ezekiel demonstrates his faith through obedience, and these bodies were breathed into, and they stood to their feet as a vast army. God explains the vision to Ezekiel. The bones were the whole house of Israel who believed that they had no hope and were cut off forever. God tells Ezekiel to prophesy once again, but this time he was to speak to his people because God would bring them back to their land. The people would know that the Lord had brought them out and by his Spirit, they would live in the land again because the Lord is faithful to his word.
The Lord instructed Ezekiel to show the people a symbolic action. He was to take two sticks and label them. One would read, "For Judah, and the people of Israel associated with him" and the other would read, "For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him." He would then join them in his hand as one. The people would be curious, and when they asked Ezekiel about its meaning, he was to explain that God was going to unite his people into one kingdom. God would gather his people from the lands where they were scattered and reunite them. One king would rule them all, and the Messiah would be that king. The people would abandon their idolatry, God would cleanse them, save them, and they would be his people. They would be united under one king, and he would be their shepherd. The people would walk in obedience, and they would dwell in the land that God had given them as an inheritance. God will make an everlasting covenant of peace with his people, and Jesus would mediate this new and better covenant. All will see that this is the work of the Lord and God will dwell with his people always.
Things To Consider:
- What is the relationship between God as the creator and God as the giver of life?
- Why is God's word so important?
- Why is God's word so powerful?
- What are the two things that God breathed into and gave it life?
- What is the relationship between obedience and faith?
- How does God bring life from death?
- How does the Spirit give life?
- What kind of kingdom did Jesus establish?
- Why does God have to cleanse the people of his kingdom?
- How does Jesus reign now?
- How can someone have peace with God forever?