As Ezekiel the prophet is shown a vision of a valley of dry bones, and is then instructed to prophecy to the bones, he does what he is commanded:
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
Ezekiel 37:7-8 NIV
The mention of the term “rushing” in the Lookout (cited below) makes me wonder if this was similar to the sound at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), when the disciples “were filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4).
At this point, I’m not sure about you, but I’m pretty sure that this would be alarming to watch. The sight of a human skeleton is disturbing enough (special thanks to medical students, who deal with that sort of thing so that the rest of us don’t!), and we know that it’s not natural for bones to become alive. It doesn’t say whether Ezekiel was frightened or not, but I don’t think that we would blame him if he was.
However, the prophecy isn’t entirely fulfilled at first. The bodies are re-assembled, but they are still lifeless. They don’t have breath. When God makes a prophecy, we know that it will come to pass. Even so, His promises are not necessarily fulfilled right away, and they are not necessarily delivered all at once.
If you’ve been following along in this series, do you remember a reference to Genesis 2:7 in the previous article? Even at Creation, God first formed Adam, then breathed life into him. Just having a body isn’t enough to be alive. Scientists may create cells in the lab, and computer programmers can create so-called “artificial intelligence”, but I don’t believe that either of them can create a soul.
In the same way, human beings can have physical life, but not spiritual life. They can move around and do things – good or bad – in their environments. However, once we have sinned, we become spiritual “zombies”: dead men and women walking around without purpose (other than feeding our own needs and desires) or anything to look forward to (outside of the grace of God). See passages like Proverbs 10:16 and Romans 6:16, for instance, as well as elsewhere in Romans.
Only by having our spirit or soul made new in Jesus Christ can we be truly alive. Now, even after accepting God’s offer of salvation, our body is still part of this fallen world and it struggles with not only pain and suffering, but also the pull of sin. However, upon our salvation, our spirits or souls can be brought back to life in the realm that will last forever.
In this prophecy, though, breath (or wind or spirit, per NIV footnote) was promised, but now it’s time (see Ezekiel 37:9-10) for it to arrive and bring the bodies – bodies from dry bones – to life!
And, just as the initial scene in the valley of dry bones appeared to be the results of a long-past battle, the dry bones have been given both flesh and breath, and they become an army.
Remember that God can bring life from the dust of the ground, or from dry bones. As long as we draw breath, we have the opportunity to call upon Him for new life. And, since God has proven His ability to bring life from no life, He can do so when He wills it.
- He can bring hope from a situation that seems lost.
- He can produce fruit from a plan that seems to have failed.
- He can bring vitality to a dying church.
- He can heal the most disastrous of diseases.
- He can bring peace and joy to the most broken of hearts.
So, I hope that you will earnestly seek that God today, and tell about Him to others who need His life-giving power. Don’t give up, even if you feel like your body has no life in it. Look to the one who gives life, even to what is dead.
As the Lookout says, “For true abundant life (John 10:10) people need the breath of God. That is especially true if your life situation has stolen all the breath out of you.”
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.