Desert Plants
Sunday School Lessons

Encouragement or Evangelism?

Wrapping up a series of articles from Ezekiel 37:1-14, I wanted us to look back on the implications of God bringing life to a valley of dry bones, in a vision to Ezekiel.

For us, living a number of centuries after Ezekiel, and having access to the teachings of Jesus and His apostles, we might look to passages like Colossians 2:13-15 when we think of being spiritually dead.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Colossians 2:13‭-‬15 NIV

We weren’t just injured in our sins or or wounded in our sins.  No, we were dead in our sins.  We had no way of restoring ourselves, nor could any of the other sinners around us.  God reached out to us, though: He literally sent the Word (per John 1) to us, though, to bring life to us (consider how Ezekiel prophesied twice in Ezekiel 37:1-9, at God’s command).  Followers of Jesus talk about receiving “new life” (which is correct – see Romans 6:3-4, Acts 5:18-20), but it’s not like we just get “rejuvenated” or “re-energized”.  No, we were spiritually dead, and Jesus brought us to life.

The first lesson that I see from this passage is one of encouragement.  If your body, mind, or spirit feels dry and broken, picked clean of life and scattered all about, we serve a God who brings life.  I’m not saying that just asking God to fix everything always provides the results that we wanted, in the timeframe that we wanted, but we should ask Him for what we seek, and – whether or not it is His will to answer those prayers in the affirmative – we should praise Him for His presence in our lives, His wisdom to know what is best for us, and His power to help us with what we need in His plan.

However, I think that there may be another lesson here: one of evangelism.  What if we aren’t the dry bones here, but the prophet?  We have a message that can bring life to others, and when we look around a world with so many lost people, it’s like standing in a valley of dry bones.

Maybe we need to not just be appalled at the spiritual death around us, or complain about how bad things have gotten, but rather speak the words that others – those who are dead in their sins – need to hear.  How many people around you (maybe even your enemies, as commentator Matthew Henry reminds us) are languishing in a sort of “living death”, needing to hear about the hope that they can have in Jesus Christ, if they will only hear and accept it?  How many people around you have given up hope, because no one has told them how much better it is to follow Jesus?

So, whether you are the dry bones, or the prophet, or both, I hope that you find inspiration in the vision of God bringing life to the dead, and a reminder that He still does so today.  Perhaps you need the encouragement, or you need to share this good news with others who are in desperate need of it.  In fact, I suspect that you – and I – need both!

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.
  • Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). Matthew Henry. 1706, via

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