As we begin a study from the first part of Ezekiel 37, the namesake prophet and priest of this book has been shown a valley of dry bones: old, dead, dry bones in a vision. Then, the speaker in this vision (whether actually God, or speaking for Him) askes Ezekiel a question:
He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”
Ezekiel 37:3 NIV
When God asks Ezekiel this question, I think that the response is pretty wise. (Consider Job 40:4-5 and Job 42:1-6, as well.) Ezekiel doesn’t take a human perspective and say, “No way!”, or “Duh!”. (By the way, we probably shouldn’t say “Duh!” to God, but if that’s what’s on our heart, He can take it.) Ezekiel also doesn’t try to outsmart God and say, “Well, you created human beings, so you could create life here”, like a smart alec.
Instead, Ezekiel gives what appears to be a polite answer: God knows.
This could be a good lesson for us, when we don’t know the answer to something. Rather than making up an answer, or just guessing, instead we can acknowledge that God knows the answer, and that sometimes He’s the only one who knows.
Sometimes, God strengthens our faith by not giving us all of the answers. There are times when we probably need to say something like, “God, only you have the answers, and I’m OK with that”.
When we know that God has all of the answers (for all time), and that He loves us perfectly, we can trust Him to do the right thing.
Continuing in Ezekiel 37:4-6, God is going to show Ezekiel the answer to God’s question. However, as He often does, God is going to use spoken words to bring about the answer.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!
Ezekiel 37:4 NIV
God gives Ezekiel a prophecy, which Ezekiel is supposed to deliver to these many dry bones.
I like what the Lookout (cited below) says, “He was not told to organize the bones, hold a seminar for the bones, or even equip the bones. He was told to give God’s inspired message to the bones. He was commanded to speak to these seemingly inanimate objects.”
This is pretty dramatic stuff. We might think back to the creation of Adam in Genesis 2:7, when God breathed life into the first human being, but this prophecy is a little different. Rather than breathing life into a new creation, the prophecy says that things that were alive in the past, but are very clearly dead now, will be restored to life.
Now, we might read past this kind of quickly, but notice how the prophecy starts and ask yourself: how can dry bones hear anything? This is a prophecy in a vision (so it can be metaphorical), but when God sees all of history, He knows when the dead will live again. Jesus spoke to Lazarus and to a little girl when their bodies were both dead. God can transform dead things into living things again, and somehow, they both hear and respond through His power.
So, in light of what you know about God’s power and omniscience, don’t feel like you have to answer all of His questions. Sometimes, uncertainty that we are presented with is an opportunity for us to grow in our faith, and for us to see God at work. In the same way, God doesn’t have to answer all of our questions. We must remember that He is God and we are not. Our role is to bring glory to Him, through worship and obedience, and trust Him – His character and power – for the rest.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for September 18, 2022
- The Lookout, September 18, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.