He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and they were very dry. – Ezekiel 37:2
17 Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.
18 Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping – believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!”
19 And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead – and so was Sarah’s womb.
20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.
21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.
The Battle of Gettysburg, was fought from July 1 to July 3, 1863. It was the bloodiest engagement of the American Civil War. There was tremendous loss of life. There was a total of 165,620 soldiers involved in the conflict: Union – 93,921, Confederate – 71,699. The total estimated casualties were 51,112: Union – 23,049, 3,155 killed, 14,529 wounded; Confederate – 28,063, 3,903 killed, 18,735 wounded.
After the fighting ended, a gruesome account of the carnage left behind on the Gettysburg battlefield was written on July 4, 1863. Burial parties were sent out to bury the fallen soldiers, Union and Confederate alike wherever they had fallen. The bodies were everywhere. Some 7058 soldiers were left on the field. It was gruesome work, and the stench of decay filled the air. As horrific as this was, the American soldiers who died at Gettysburg, fared far better than the dead soldiers of the army of Israel in Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:11).
1 The LORD took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the LORD to a valley filled with bones.
2 He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and they were very dry.
The vision of the valley of the dry bones is the scene of the aftermath of a horrific and ghastly battle. Why were the bones strewn about in the valley and very dry? There were no burials! All that was left were the skeletons of the dead. The corpses had long ago decomposed.
But there’s more. Matthew Henry wrote his commentary over 300 years ago between 1687-1712 AD. He realized that the dry bones represented the hopeless condition of the Jewish people. “The Jews in Babylon were like those dead and dry bones, unlikely ever to come together, to be so much as a skeleton, less likely to be formed into a body, and least of all to be a living body” (Matthew Henry).
But Ezekiel’s story does not end with dismal death, destruction, and disarticulation. What seems utterly hopeless becomes a promise of ultimate restoration.
REFLECT & PRAY
Why do we find ourselves in hopeless situations, far outside of our comfort zone? The Father employs many strategies to develop His children. Overcoming impossible situations is but one of them. The improbable, if not impossible, circumstances of life develop great faith. Great faith prepares His children to fulfill the Father’s dreams and plans for their lives.
Father thank You that You bring hope and encouragement where there is despair and hopelessness. Father thank You that You create life where there is death.
Consider this hypothetical situation. Suppose the Father whisked you away in a vision and took you to a graveyard. All you saw were gravestones, properly tended graves, a few trees here and there, and flowers left in memory of loved ones. The Father asks you, what do you think? Can these people come back to life again?
If I would’ve been there, I would’ve been tempted to be somewhat disrespectful and ask, “are you kidding me?”
That’s pretty much what happened. The Spirit of the Lord asks Ezekiel an astonishing, seemingly absurd question.
Ezekiel 37:3 “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”
Ezekiel the prophet was wise and strong in faith. He deftly and deferentially put the ball back in the Father’s court. He recognized that the Father alone knew the correct answer and what the ultimate outcome would be.
Yet, Ezekiel also knew in his heart, that if it could be done, only the Father could do it. For the Lord God Almighty, all things are possible. It is the Father, “who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing” (Romans 4:17).
Ezekiel 37:3 “O Sovereign LORD,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”
Indeed, the Sovereign LORD most certainly knows. But remarkably, He wanted to involve Ezekiel in the process of restoring life.
4 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the LORD!
5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again!
6 I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’”
7 So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons.
8 Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.
9 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”
10 So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet – a great army.
Did the Father need Ezekiel’s help? Of course not. But this was an opportunity for Ezekiel to grow mighty in spirit.
Lots of times when remarkable things happen, good or bad, we ask why? Often, we don’t get an answer. But the Father graciously explained to Ezekiel what the vision was all about.
The dead, disarticulated, dry bones represent the Jewish nation. Israel and Judah were divided for some 300 years. Untold numbers of them had died. Those who remain alive, are in exile, far from home. For all practical appearances, they are a doomed, dispersed, dead nation without hope. They are like bleached bones on a battlefield. They said to themselves, “our nation is finished.”
But they are not finished! They will live again and return home to their own land. First will come physical restoration. But of much greater importance, they will be spiritually regenerated. The Father will live within their hearts.
Ezekiel 37:13 O my people, you will know that I am the LORD. They will once again realize and believe that their God, is God.
When difficult or even impossible things occur, how do you look at them? Do you see with the eyes of faith or the eyes of disbelief and cynicism? Do you see disarticulated hopeless skeletons? Or do you see a vibrant, powerful, living army whose commander-in-chief is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
Psalms 27:13 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.
Genesis 18:14 Is anything too difficult for the Lord?
Him Romans 4:21 God is able to do whatever he promises.