There are lots of places of dryness in our lives, aren't there? As I age, my skin just seems to go from moist to dry in no time flat. Before long, I look down and see those lines and grooves that suggest all the hand washing of my day has left behind a look similar to that of a lizard's skin! The day can get past me in pretty short order and I wonder why I need to drink a gallon of water when I get home, then realize it is because I forgot to stop to get anything else to drink after my coffee first thing that morning. My body is just demanding to catch up! Arizona is a kind of 'dry' climate, but when you need the heat on in winter AND you live in a dry climate, even breathing can be 'dry'! I have come across animals and even fallen cacti - all leaving behind tell-tale signs of life at a former time - now dry and scattered, making it hard to really tell for sure what that animal may have been, or how majestic that cactus may have stood. Imagine if God were to take you to a very barren place, littered with all manner of 'dry bones' - carcasses that suggested there had been life at one time, but now scattered and without any sign of life. What would you see as you gazed out over that space? Would you see the dryness and barrenness - or would you see hope and renewal? Likely, if you are like me, you'd see the 'lack of potential' within that place. I wonder how many times we look at the 'dry and barren bones' of our lives and see the 'lack of potential' instead of the potential for renewal that God sees?
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. He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" I said, "Master God, only you know that." He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones: 'Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!'" (Ezekial 37:1-4)
Within scripture, 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 because their 'interpretation' is kind of hard. This is an entire valley of dry bones - a gruesome picture of some type of battle or famine having left hundreds or thousands of bodies to be picked at by the wild animals, leaving nothing but dry, barren bones in the end. The characteristics of these bones are interesting when we consider them individually. 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. There were a whole lot of bones! That means that this "dry" condition was shared by a whole bunch of bones, not just one. There was no sign of flesh on these bones. It is the flesh that played a part in keeping these bones together - it is now totally 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. Dry bones, absent of flesh, have not a lot of use - do they? They just gather, sitting there as a reminder of 'what has been', but 'no longer is'.
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 - the 'what once was' but 'no longer is' kind of bones - dead, without form, and kind of useless. Go figure, but God sees the "dry bones" as having the potential of life once again - yes, he sees their dryness and barrenness, but he is limited in his view of their potential. The changing point for the "dry bones" is in the speaking forth of God's Word - in the Words Ezekial will prophesy over these dry bones. It is the Word of God that brings a stirring. Can I be "corny" a little here? It is the Word of God that often sets our bones to rattling - gets us up when we are down and sets in motion things that haven't been 'stirred up' in quite a long time! 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 total and complete newness of life. He has a "framework" that he works within (the dry bones of our lives apart from him) - but he is the one who does the "creative" work of bringing those dry bones together, placing them in right order, and covering them with all things beautiful!
It was something in the breath of life that came into those dry bones that made it possible for them to 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, a change in their attitude. 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 and barren, without any signs of life, there can be transformation. That transformation takes barren, dry lives and turns them into a powerful, vast, and responsive army! When God is at work in our lives, dead bones can live again - dry places can be made new again! We may not see the same potential God sees, but when we allow his Word to breathe life into us once more, we might just be surprised to see what starts out as just a little 'rattling' becomes a brand new creation in his hands. Just sayin!