Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
In Ezekiel 37 God brings a valley full of skeletal remains to life and makes them a mighty army. In my national culture this passage is often associated with children’s stories, folk songs, and all manner of bad theology. Maybe by your willing you can provoke God to bring what is dead to life? Maybe since you are the living prophet you need to prophesy to the bones and make them come to life, changing your circumstances? Maybe you simply need to trust God better so that youwon’t be like the dead bones any more?
In this passage God is addressing the prophet Ezekiel. He is not speaking directly to the dead skeletons. They don’t hear. God’s prophet speaks to the bones, and he speaks of what God would do in his sovereign power. What happens then? God’s words are effective. God pulls the bones together, he eventually assembles them back into whole people. He clothes them with all their flesh. He breathes life into them. He appoints them to their purpose.
Does this vision have a meaning? Rather than trying to make up a meaning, let’s see what the text says. God says to his people that he will raise them from the dead and will send them in to inherit their land. What’s the context? God’s people, Israel, have been living in exile. They have been taken captive and deprived of their land, their inheritance, all that seems to give them a national identity. God is speaking to the people of Israel and saying that he will bring them back to life, returning them from the deadness of their captivity and placing them in their land.
Many prophecies have a secondary application. This one would seem to. Sin is normally identified as death in the Scripture. People are identified as dead in sin. They have no life of their own. They need to be born from above. How does God bring people to life? He does it by his words. And those words give the people an identity, a purpose, and an inheritance. This is exactly what we see in the valley of dead bones. God raises up dead people and makes them alive. he proclaims that they will be able to inherit the promises he has for them.
What are these promises made for God’s people who have been rescued from sin? They are promises of life, of godliness, of an eternity of blessing in the presence of God. These are the promises of Jesus, who gives life to those who were dead in sin. These are the promises of Jesus, who promises never to leave his people, but to be with them to the end of the age. These are the promises spoken by God in His Word, received by his people by faith. They show God’s grace from beginning to end.
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