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The Vision Of The Valley Of Dry Bones

(Ezekiel 37:1-14)

Introduction

·        This is the first prophecy for Passion Week, read in the Sixth Hour of Palm Sunday, which is the General Funeral Service

·        The Holy Spirit chose this beautiful prophecy to be the first one, to give us hope in the resurrection which ended and overcame death. The Holy Spirit wished to reveal to us right at the beginning of Passion Week that the crucified Christ grants the life of resurrection to overcome all sin and stumbling blocks, even if they become very dry bones

·        Ezekiel 37 is a key chapter in Ezekiel, as it is central to the hope of the restoration of Israel. The passage portrays the Vision of the valley of dry bones. It describes a valley that is full of dry bones, scattered as though they had been in a battle, and nothing is left but bones.  It is a desperate, hopeless and miserable state.  Then God asks Ezekiel to prophecy to these bones, and through the Spirit of God, these bones join together, are covered with skin and sinews, and receive the breath of life. The desolate valley of dry bones became a valley filled with an army of soldiers ready for war.

 

God asked: "Son of man, can these bones live?" (Ezek 37:3)

·        Ezekiel’s response: "O Lord GOD, You know."

o       Ezekiel didn’t think with his mind and say “no, how can these lifeless and dry bones come to life?”

o       He had faith in God’s ability and power to do the impossible.

o       He realised these bones cant live unless God enables them to live.

o       By God asking this question, it makes us think about the magnitude of this miracle. How can dry, lifeless and hopeless bones live?

 

Why did God ask Ezekiel to prophecy?

"Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!’” (Ezek 37:4)

·        Why did God ask Ezekiel to prophecy? Why didn't God just speak to them directly?

·        God wants to use us to accomplish His work:  “we are God's fellow workers” (1 Cor 3:9).  We are vessels and instruments which God uses, if only we leave ourselves in His hands.

·        God can work without us, but we cant work without God.

·        Obedience:  It seems unusual and somewhat hopeless to speak to dry bones, as God commanded Ezekiel. But at God’s command, and with His grace, life was fuelled into the lifeless bones in a miraculous and marvellous way: "So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army" (Ezek 37:10). It reminds us of the story of St John the Short who was commanded by his spiritual father to water a dry and lifeless stick every day in the desert.  How could a stick become alive?  Yet because of St John’s obedience to his spiritual father, the stick became a blossoming tree, which still exists today.  So both examples highlight the fruits of obeying God who is the fountain of life and who raises the dead, even in circumstances that seem hopeless and helpless to our limited minds.

·        What was the source of life for these bones?  That they "hear the Word of the Lord" (Ezek 37:4).  So it shows us the power of God's word in giving life.  As St Peter proclaimed: "to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:68). And also in several psalms, David declares that the source of life is God's word, for example: "Your word has given me life"  (Ps 119:50).  

 

What does the Resurrection of these bones symbolise?

There are 3 meanings we can take from the Resurrection of the bones in Ezekiel's vision:

1.       The hope of the restoration of Israel

2.       Our daily resurrection and revival

3.       The Resurrection in the Last Day (ie Second Coming)

 

1. The hope of the restoration of Israel

·        After being in captivity in Babylon for 70 years, Israel was in great despair: “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!” (Ezek 37:11). But through Ezekiel's vision, God promised Israel that He would redeem and save them, and give them a new hope, new inheritance and a new spirit.  He would also revive their faith in Him:  “Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it” (Ezek 37:14).

 

2. Our daily resurrection and revival

·        What does the vision mean for us?  How can we learn from it?

·        The dry bones could be our souls, that are in need of revival. The vision could be our resurrection from being spiritually dead because of our sins, to a life of righteousness - a holy, spiritual, divine life by the power of divine grace.

But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. (Rom 6: 22)

·        We can ask ourselves, 'am I in need of revival'?  Consider David the Prophet in Psalm 119, which we read in the first service of Midnight Prayer. How many times does he pray using the words "Revive me"?

o       "Revive me according to your word" (Ps 119:25)

o       "Revive me in Your way" (Ps 119:37)

o       "Revive me in your righteousness" (Ps 119:40)

o       "Revive me according to Your lovingkindness" (Ps 119:88 and 119:159)

o       "Revive me, O LORD" (Ps 119:107)

o       "Revive me according to Your justice" (Ps 119:149)

o       "Revive me according to Your word" (Ps 119:154)

o       "Revive me according to Your judgments" (Ps 119:156)

·        It seems that David knew and felt he was spiritually weak (or spiritually "dead", to some extent) and he continually implored that the Lord would revive him. How about us?

·        Read the Article on Page 4: "When You see me, a Withering Member…" The withering member in this article is similar to the dry bones in Ezekiel's vision, which are in need of revival.

 

3. The Resurrection in the Last Day

·        Additionally the vision can symbolise the resurrection in the Second Coming: "For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Cor 15:52).

 

The Characteristics of God in this Prophecy

·        The Creator: We see God as the Creator, He who created man in the beginning (Gen 2:7, 21-22), created sinews and skin for these dry bones, and turned these dry bones into whole bodies.

·        The Redeemer: God promised Israel that He would redeem, give them a new hope, new inheritance, a new spirit, and revive their faith in Him.

·        The Life-Giver: He breathed the breath of life in these bodies to make them alive. He is the source of life.  He breathes life into our souls now, and He will breath life into all bodies on the Last Day too.

·        The Almighty: nothing is impossible for God. He who can create children to Abraham from stones (Matt 3:9) created a human army ready for service, from a valley of dry bones.

 

Practical Implications

·        Don’t despair – there is always hope! Even if one appears to be “dry as a bone”, there is always hope that they will one day “hear the word of the Lord” and be revived.

·        Obedience to God’s call – whatever it is in our life, if we obey even in the face of the greatest discouragement or hopelessness, Gods Spirit will bring forth success, fruit and life.

 

Questions for contemplation/discussion

·        Who am I in this passage?  Am I Ezekiel? Or am I one of the dry bones?

·        How can the act of Ezekiel (in prophesying to these bones) be applied in our service, in a practical, realistic way?

 

 

 


 


References

·         Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible

·         NKJV Open Bible Study notes

 

 

 


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"When You See me a withering member…"

 

 

(Author Unknown)

 

 

I'll never forget that holy mass which I once attended; I don't know whether the church had risen up to heaven

or wether heaven had descended to earth.....

 

People around me were standing with reverence, which helped me feel the holiness of this place, especially

the holy Fraction Prayer. Everybody was alert to the different events that were happening in this service.

In the midst of that holy atmosphere some words that the priest had said touched my heart, and I was deeply

affected. They were:

 

"O' the WOUNDS of Christ,

 PIERCE ME with the spear of divine love.

O' the DEATH of Christ,

EXHILARATE ME with the love of the one who died for me.

O' the BLOOD of Christ,

CLEANSE ME of all sins.

O' my beloved Jesus,

When you see me, a withering member, REVIVE ME with the oil of Your grace".

 

Tears that came out of love started falling, declaring that a new start is going to begin. The holy service of the mass ended and I partook the Holy Communion. I left the church quickly feeling that I had a treasure which I didn't want to lose by talking to people.

 

I went home, sat in my room and closed the door. I took a pencil and started writing.

 

"Dear JESUS, when you see me, a withering member, revive me with the oil of your grace."

 

These words shook me. And I went on writing down my thoughts: "Dear LORD JESUS, You know my weakness and

inability to do any good, whenever I try to raise up, I always end up by falling down. There is no-one else except You who can put in me the will to do good, and saturate me with Your love."

 

When I went on saying this sentence many times : "Dear JESUS, if You see me, a withering member....".

 

I was happy because the saint who wrote this holy Fraction Prayer shared his feelings and his needs with me.

 

At the end of my contemplation I found a comforting voice inside me saying. If you want to become a saint,

deny yourself, and feel your weakness, depend on God who gives grace to the lowly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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