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The valley of dry bones
Psalm 37:1-14

Scripture reading: Revelation 20, I Corinthians 15, Daniel 12

REVIEW: For the last couple of months we have been making our way through the Book of Ezekiel.

-The book begins with the incredible call of Ezekiel-- who saw God in all of his holy and divine glory
-Ezekiel was deported to Babylon 11 years before the fall of Jerusalem (In the eyes of God, the group of exiles that he was part of, were a favoured bunch)
-Ezekiel's father was a priest, if Ezekiel had been in Israel, he would been one too
-Ezekiel called into service at the age of 30
-Ezekiel a contemporary of Jeremiah (who back in Jerusalem) and Daniel
-For the first 7 years of his ministry he was mute except when God had something for him to say. For these first 7 years God had him proclaim this message: Jerusalem is sure to fall for her sins and rebellion against God.
-For the last 15 years of Ezekiel's ministry, God had Ezekiel deliver a different message (this was post the fall of Jerusalem)-- The message was this: There was a future for Israel, she would be restored
-As with Jeremiah, many of the messages that God had Ezekiel take to the people, were accompanied by object lessons (catching the attention of the people and opening their minds to hearing the message of the Lord)
-The key phrase in the Book of Ezekiel is this; "Then they will know that I am the Lord"-- meaning: By my actions, they will know that I am the one true God.

Today we going to consider a very popular text in the Book of Ezekiel. The text in question is Ezekiel 37:1-14.

In this passage, Ezekiel- by means of a vision, is set down in a large valley, full of dried out and utterly desiccated human bones. While in the midst of these bones, God asks Ezekiel a question "Can these bones live?" While the average person would say; "No way, all these people are long since dead" Ezekiel responds "O Sovereign LORD, you alone know". Following this, God commands Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones to come back together and to have life. Ezekiel obeys the Lord and what unfolds is an incredible scene of thousands upon thousands of dried out and scattered bones coming together and rejoining- with the end effect being a vast army had come to life.

That we might not be left to futile and pointless speculation, God told Ezekiel what the vision and prophecy was all about.

Ezekiel's vision had to do with the house and nation of Israel: She who was considered as good as dead, she who had been scattered to the four winds of the earth, she who had been carried into exile, she who had been destroyed for her sins, her rebellion, her refusal to repent, she who had been removed from the land of promise, she who endured the destruction of God's temple and the city of Jerusalem - she was going to be restored- figuratively being brought back to life from the dead.

READ TEXT

LESSONS OF THE TEXT

1. The prophesied restoration of Israel happened just as God said.

This is the big point of Ezekiel 37:1-14

In fact, it's happened a couple of times- firstly after 70 years of captivity in the land of Babylon when in 538 B.C Cyrus the king of Babylon issued an edict allowing the Jews to return home (Ezra 1), and most recently in 1948. After being scattered and dispersed by the Romans in A.D 70, in 1948, against all odds, Israel was reborn as a nation.

Point: Trust God. He is always true to His Word.

Fulfilled prophecy is a great reason to believe your Bible and trust God

2. God delights in restoring broken and sinful people to Himself

This point is an extrapolation of Ezekiel 36-37

God does so through Christ and the cross

Our task, as the followers of Christ, is to call people to be reconciled to God - 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, pointing out the available mercy of God for those who would humble themselves and repent of their sins, putting their faith and trust in Christ as Lord and Savior.


3. Nothing is impossible for God.

Note God's question of Ezekiel 37:3 "Son of man, can these bones live?"

To the average person on the street- a valley full of scattered, dried, and soon to be powder, bones meant only one thing-- "There's no coming back for these people"

Yet that wasn't Ezekiel's perspective. Ezekiel knew that the answer to that question depended upon God and His will. Ezekiel knew the power of God. Ezekiel had seen the Lord in all His glory. Ezekiel had seen the words of the Lord come true - over and over again in his life. Ezekiel knew that nothing is impossible for God.

Other passages that make the point that nothing is impossible for God

Genesis 18:14 "Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son."

Jeremiah 32:17 "Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.

Luke 1:37 "For nothing is impossible with God." Said the angel to Mary

Matthew 19:26- Jesus in answering his disciples question about being saved "Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Application:

Is there something in your life that you are concerned about that seems to big or impossible? Nothing is impossible for God. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him-- regardless of your present circumstances and what happens in their term.

4. Note some of the reasons for God restoring Israel to her homeland

a. It was for the sake of His name and glory that He restored the Israelites to their homeland- not as two peoples but as one. Ezekiel 36:22 (read)
b. It was meant to lead his people and the nations to the conclusion and testimony that there is one true God Ezekiel 27:14,28 (read)

It's fascinating that this passage makes this point: A proof for God is the existence of Israel in her homeland***.

5. Note the fulness of God's restoring work

a. Ezekiel 37:15-28 is not of North and South but of a unified Israel- one nation under God, one nation under the Lordship of Christ (for those of you who want to dig deeper as it pertains the prophecy of Christ's kingship, check out Psalm 2)

b. It came with promise of protection (note the prophecy of Ezekiel 38-39 and its relation to Zechariah 14 and Revelation 19)

Further application


6. The image of the dried bones coming together and coming to life, reminds us of the the prophecies of the Bible regarding the resurrection to come

While the text is all about the restoration of Israel, the striking image reminds me of the prophecies of the Bible that regard the resurrection to come.

Daniel 12:1-3 says; "At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people-everyone whose name is found written in the book-will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever."

Revelation 20:11-15 says; "Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Further application: In pondering the resurrection to come, hear the words of Christ as delivered to Martha while near Lazarus' grave

"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?" "Yes, Lord," she replied, "I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world." John 11

ARE YOU READY FOR THIS DAY THAT IS TO COME?

Turn to Jesus and hear again the words of Christ, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die."


7. The image of God taking physically dead people and restoring them to life reminds us what God does spiritually, when through Christ, He takes spiritually dead people and gives them eternal life


Consider the words of Ephesians 2:1-5; "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved."


CONCLUSION

Ezekiel 37:1-14 is a exciting passage because of it's visual imagery. Whose mind isn't captivated by the image of valley full of dried out bones coming to life?

By way of interpretation, first and foremost Ezekiel 37:1-14 is about the restoration of Israel as a nation to her homeland. As prophesied by Ezekiel, God's word came to pass-- Israel, considered to be dead and gone figuratively came back to life as a nation.

God's word came to pass. Trust God

God delights in restoring sinful and broken people to Himself. He does so through Christ

Nothing is impossible for God

God restored Israel for the sake of His name and glory and that He might be recognized and praised as the one true God.

The image of the dry bones coming to life reminds us of the prophecies regarding the resurrection to come. Turn to Jesus and put your trust in Him. He is the resurrection and the life.

The image of God taking physically dead people and restoring them to life reminds us what God does in Christ, He takes spiritually dead people and gives them eternal life