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The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
Messages for the Modern World from an Ancient Prophet is the theme we are working through and is based on Ezekiel’s prophecies.
This prophet lived in a foreign country during perilous times.
He found God to be very real and present, just as we can find Him to be today.
Today we are talking about Can These Bones Live?
Ezekiel 37:3 NKJV
3 And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”
Ezekiel 37:1-10 NKJV
The Dry Bones Live
1 The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones.
2 Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry.
3 And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”
4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!
5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.
6 I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone.
8 Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.
9 Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” ’ ”
10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
In Jesus name we pray.
Ezekiel 37 is one of the most solemn and utterly serious chapters in the entire prophecy of this young priest.
It describes the most unusual scene and an incredible thing happening.
The scene is a valley filled with disjointed, bleaching human bones.
The incredible thing is the coming of four winds that converge upon this valley.
As those mysterious winds sweep across the eerie boneyard, fantastic things start to happen.
Bones come together, sinew stretches like elastic across them, then flesh appears and the blowing wind enters the nostrils of those lifeless bodies, and suddenly they live!
Then they stand up on their feet, a mighty, organised army.
But what have we done with that story?
We have made a caricature of it.
We have made a parody of it.
We have composed funny songs and skits about it.
In short, and for the most part, we have turned Ezekiel’s most serious and profound vision into a cheap joke!
Tonight I want us to forget that “the head bone was connected to the neck bone, and the ankle bone to the foot bone,” and with the microscope of biblical interpretation, see if we cannot discover the true and lasting message of Ezekiel’s vision.
When Ezekiel looked to his left and to his right, as far as the eye could see, there were dried, bleached bones of soldiers who had fallen in battle.
There was no movement, no sound, no indication of life at all.
There was no wind, no breeze, just abandoned, forsaken, utter stillness.
- Firstly, there is a divine question.
The Lord God, who os Ezekiel’s guide asks this stunned prophet a strange question.
“Son of man, can these bones live?”
Or, to paraphrase, God might have said something like this to Ezekiel, “Ezekiel, you’ve got the picture. You’ve had the grand tour. You’ve seen this whole valley filled with bones. Now what do you think? Do you catch even the faintest hint go hope here? Do you think that there is any chance, any possibility, that these bones could ever live again?”
What a strange question?
Slowly this young man, possessed by the nature of a vivid imagination, began to let God push this question through his mind.
Again and again it rang in his ears, echoing and reverberating through that valley of death.
Like the rising sun, Ezekiel slowly began to see.
Suddenly those dry, dead, bleached bones began to take on a familiar form.
Those gross, staring skulls began to look like his own people back in the pagan land of Babylon.
Then, the longer Ezekiel allowed the Spiritof God to bombard his mind with this scene, the more he began to perceive the picture God was painting before him.
“O Lord, this must be how You see them, while they are physically alive and active in their world, they are spiritually dead!
And now You ask, “Can these bones live?”
O my God! Only You can know that!
The answer from my human standpoint, O Lord is “No!” Death has won in this valley, Lord.
The grim reaper is supreme here.
But Ive learned a long time ago, Lord, that Your ways are not our ways, and that Your power far exceeds our power.
Only You hold the answer to that question, Lord!”
2. The human dilemma Ezekiel faced in this symbolic vision God had given him.
What is spiritual death?
It is a figure of speech, not a medical report.
A person who is spiritually dead may be vibrant with physical health and energy.
They may be intellectually brilliant and successful.
Yet spiritually, as far as their relationship with God is concerned, they may be as dead and void of life as Ezekiel’s boneyard.
But when we speak of spiritual death, we ae describing someone who has no basis for genuine hope unless they respond to the Spirit of God.
What about Ezekiel’s people?
If you had asked them if they believed in God, they would have replied, with a shrug of their shoulders, “Sure. We believe in God.”
I wonder what the statistics would show if the same question was asked in Australia today?
Let’s look around our neighbourhoods.
Here is a man who is holding down a responsible position.
He may be earning a good salary, living in a comfortable home, driving a nice car.
He has never been to jail, nor has he ever been involved in a scandal.
He doesn’t drink, at least not in excess.
He doesn’t use drugs.
He is faithful to his wife, and he provides for his children.
Once, long ago, he joined a church.
And today he will tell you with a disarming smile, “Well, church is fine. My wife and children attend. It just really isn’t important to me. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s good for those who need it.”
Yet when Ezekiel described his friends and neighbours as a collection of dry bones, he wasn’t talking about nice, successful people, but a people whose faith had fizzled out.
3. But then, there must be an ultimate solution to this problem.
God gave the solution to Ezekiel in an unforgettable way.
Once again, Ezekiel had reached a new plateau of understanding.
His forst step was to comprehend the symbolism of the valley of dry bones.
They were his people, God’s people, those for whom God had a purpose and a plan.
But they had turned from that plan and were following their own schemes.
The result was they were spiritually dead.
There was no vital, living relationship.
Then Ezekiel reached a second plateau of understanding.
He saw his people as victims of spiritual death.
Suddenly he was overcome with the hopelessness of the situation.
“Dear God! Id this all there is? Is this the end of Your plan and purpose for Your people? What of my mission, O God? They will not hear me! They will not listen!”
What did Ezekiel see among his people?
In the years of their captivity in Babylon, they had become comfortable and some of them even materially successful.
They were learning to love the pagan land.
The Hebrews prospered in Babylon.
So, in the midst of this hopelessness, God spoke to Ezekiel again.
He said to the distressed prophet, “Ezekiel, preach to the wind!”
What a humbling experience for Ezekiel!
We do not know what he said, but the winds responded.
From north, south, east, and west they came.
Gently at first, they blew across that valley of bones.
Then, slowly, the velocity increased.
The winds reached gale intensity as they rushed through those bones.
Ezekiel saw his miracle.
The bones began to move, one bone found another bone.
Out of chaos and hopelessness and despair there came order and purpose and meaning.
Out of the impossible came the possible.
Then, as the speechless Ezekiel watched, sinew and flesh came upon the bones.
Though the bones had come together to form skeletons with purpose and design, they lacked cohesiveness and unity until the sinews and flesh appeared.
But wait a moment!
Although a fantastic transformation had taken place, something vital was missing.
These perfectly formed bodies were still lifeless.
Everything was there except that which spelled the difference between life and death, the breath of God, or God’s Spirit.
Ezekiel’s people in Babylon knew the Hebrew Scriptures.
They knew the law of God, for the scribes had continued to teach it faithfully in the synagogues they had established.
They had the form of religion, the institution for religion, even the divine law itself.
But they were still victims of spiritual death.
“Preach to the wind, Ezekiel! Breath upon these bodies, O Wind of God!”
And once again the winds came and filled the nostrils and lungs of these bodies, and Ezekiel saw them stand upon their feet, by ranks, companies, battalions, a mighty army for the Lord.
The Spirit gives life.
What is the application for us today?
We, too, have the superstructure.
We have the bones and the sinew and the flesh.
We have the institution, the organisation, the intellectual know how.
And yet the impact of the church on its community and on the world is pitifully weak.
The influence of many Christians on those with whom they associate with is heartbreakingly ineffective.
The church needs desperately to be alive, breathing, pulsating with the Spirit of God in this day in which we live.
As a nation, our affluence has hemmed us in spiritually.
We lie on our battlefield, for the most part like Ezekiel’s lifeless army.
But all is not lost.
There is hope, the stench of spiritual death can be taken away by the wind of God’s Spirit moving among us.
Until next time
Stay in the Blessings
I really want to encourage you to be diligent with your Bible study time, because God has so much more for us than we can get from just going to church once or twice a week and hearing someone else talk about the Word.
When you spend time with God, your life will change in amazing ways, because God is a Redeemer.
Theres nothing thats too hard for Him, and He can make you whole, spirit, soul and body!
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2022 IS A YEAR OF REPENTANCE AND BLESSINGS
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