Read: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Reflect: Ezekiel’s life was an object lesson to the Israelites, often prophetically declaring a message from God to the people. Ezekial was a man who understood crushing heartache. When his wife died he was told by God not to mourn openly for her. His beloved temple was destroyed. His people were exiled from their land and held captive. It is in this backdrop that he found himself given the vision of the Valley of Dry Bones. These bones were dry. It had been a long time since anything resembling life had inhabited them. They were the remains of devastation from long ago, long past the time of any hope of healing and restoration.
When the Lord took him to this vast valley full of dried-up death, God asked Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones live?”. I can only imagine the bewildered and weary tone of Ezekial’s reply, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” (Ezekiel 1:3) But in obedience, the prophet spoke to the bones and prophesied life. As he was speaking, the bones came together and became covered by tendons and flesh. But there was still no life in this vast army. Ezekiel had to speak the Breath of Life over and into them, raising a vast army to its feet. God explained, “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.” (Ezekiel 37:14)
I often wonder what the prophet imagined when God explained this picture of restoration. Did it shield him from the realities of living in a sinful world? No. Did it make the sorrows he experienced hurt less? I doubt it. Did it provide a solid place to grab ahold of the hope that God had not forgotten him or the nation; that God was still sovereign and would somehow turn devastation to restoration? I think so.
Apply: This life is still marked by numerous valleys filled with “dry bones”. Many times we see only the remains of devastation so complete that all hope is dried up and carried away by the wind. It takes a lot to obediently speak God’s truth over these situations with our bewildered and tired voices. It’s tempting to stop when things appear to be living once again, afraid to hope for too much. Just like Ezekiel, speaking restoration over life’s devastations also requires speaking the Breath of Life into the dry valleys of death. Without the Breath of Life, God’s Spirit, the restoration is incomplete and lacks power. Just like in Ezekiel’s time, God has not forgotten us or our nation. We too, can grab ahold of this hope because He who promised is faithful.