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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dry Bones

 1-2 God grabbed me. God's Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. He led me around and among them—a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun.
 3 He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"  I said, "Master God, only you know that."  4 He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones: 'Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!'"
(Ezekial 37:1-4)

Ezekial is probably not one of the most frequently books in the Bible.  As a matter of fact, the books of the Prophets of the Old Testament are often a little hard to figure out.  Some of what is shared is figurative, not literal, bringing a little confusion to how we interpret the things that are shared.  So, we shy away from them.  When I was in Bible School, my instructor did a good job of bringing some light to this chapter in Ezekial - the story of the Valley of Dry Bones.  I probably will not give as good of an explanation of this as he did, but there were some truths that he taught that I'd like to pass on.  Here they are:

This is an entire valley of dry bones - a gruesome picture of some type of battle or famine having left hundreds of bodies to be picked at by the birds, leaving nothing but bones in the end.  The characteristics of these bones are interesting when we consider them individually.  First, they were dry - no sign of life in them.  When I think of something being "dry", I think of staleness, a lack of freshness, nothing within that object that gives it flexibility or usefulness any longer.  Second, there were a whole lot of bones!  That means that this "dry" condition was shared by many, not just one.  Third, there was no sign of flesh on these bones.  It is the flesh that played a part in keeping these bones together - it is not gone.  We don't know why it is gone - we can imagine it was picked clean by predators or that it was simply rotted away by time.  Lastly, dry bones, absent of flesh, have not a lot of use.

This passage is remarkable in that God takes Ezekial to the Valley of Dry Bones and tells him to look out over it.  He asks Ezekial what he sees - then he tells Ezekial what it is that he sees when he looks out at those dry bones.  Man often only sees the bones as I referenced to them above - dead, without form, and kind of useless.  God sees the "dry bones" as having the potential of life once again.  

The changing point for the "dry bones" is in the speaking forth of God's Word.  It is the Word of God that brings a stirring to the dry bones.  Can I be "corny" a little here?  It is the Word of God that often sets our bones to rattling!  He is in the business of bringing life to what seems absolutely lifeless and without hope in us!  God is not simply in the business of reviving "corpses" - he wants to give us newness of life.  He has a "framework" that he works within (dry bones) - but he is the one who does the "re-creative" work of bringing those dry bones together, placing them in order, and covering them with all things beautiful!

It was in the breathe of life that came into those dry bones that they rise up once again!  It was in the "wind" of God's breath that those bones began to rattle - they were awakened.  That same "wind" stirred them, causing a change in their position.  The "wind" drew them together, set them upright, and moved them forward.  It is the "wind" of God's breath (his Spirit) that we are moved from the dryness of our "valleys of dead bones" into the freshness of life that only he can produce.

The purpose of bringing Ezekial here was to show that when God is at work, what appears dry, without signs of life, can be transformed into a powerful, vast army!  When God is at work in our lives, dead bones can live again!