Mark spoke from Ezekiel 37:1-14 at the family service last night – an unusual theme for March, perhaps (if you were expecting a Mother’s Day service, you were disappointed!), but definitely a theme that has been recurring in our church life this year. This is the famous passage about the valley of dry bones and he showed us some dry bones initially.
The Israelites were in captivity in Babylon and seemed helpless. Psalm 137 captures their sorrow and despondency. Nonetheless, God has not abandoned or forsaken His people. When He moves, He does so sovereignly and in power. Ezekiel is moved by the power of God’s Spirit and taken to a place where he sees a valley of unburied, dry bones that represent the death of the people:
The passage abounds with the promises of what God will do:‘I am going to open your graves’; ‘I will bring you back’; ‘I will put my Spirit in you’; ‘I will settle you in your own land’. These ‘I wills’ come from the great ‘I AM’.
God asks Ezekiel if the dry bones can live and his answer is ‘O Sovereign Lord, You alone know’. Nonetheless, he is obedient to the command to prophesy (see vs 7 and vs 10) and God’s breath of life changed the situation around, with the bones gaining flesh and tendon and sinew and God’s breath coming into them to give them life so that ‘they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army.’ (vs 10)
We need the prophetic, the specific word of God, in our churches, for we need God’s word and God’s breath to bring new life. Ezekiel brought a message of hope to a despondent people living as slaves and reminded them that God had a future for them beyond Babylon. God has good plans for us too.
What kind of listeners are we? Are we like the deaf, dry bones, oblivious to God’s voice? Or are we those who don’t listen because we think we have heard it all before and know it all? Have we become over-familiar with God and therefore complacent? Or are we the people of God who are muscly and alive, ready to be living bones to people in need?
After the service we prayed that God would breathe on us and complete the unfinished plans in our lives and in our communities.