Coming to Life

By Jarrett Stephens

It’s been said that “man can live 40 days without food, about three days without water and four minutes without air. But we cannot live for four seconds without hope.” Ezekiel is a passage all about hope. The picture we see painted for us here was given to the nation of Israel at a time when they were the most hopeless. Their nation had been ransacked, their ability to worship in the temple was gone, their beloved land and holy city were lost, and their freedom had been taken away from them. They were hopeless and helpless. They were truly a people in despair.

In the first two verses, Ezekiel gives the diagnosis. Death. Ezekiel is surrounded by dry bones, which symbolize death and decay. These bones are relics of life. All that is in this valley is skeletons. Simply put, Israel is dead due to their sin. Israel chose to rebel against God, worship false gods, align with people who don’t honor God, and live in a constant state of pride and rebellion. Bones is what they have become! God judges sin. He did then, and He does now.

However, as Christians, God wants to do for us today what He did for Ezekiel on this day. He wants to give us eyes to see the death and decay around us. When you go to a restaurant, your waiter or waitress is nothing but bones, unless they know Christ. When you are at your office, your coworkers are nothing but bones, unless they know Christ. When you run into your neighbors, they are nothing but bones, unless they know Christ. They may be there physically, but if they don’t know Jesus, God wants you to see that they are nothing but bones. Look around, there are bones everywhere.

The diagnosis is death. But now, we get to the hope of this passage. Now, we come to the prognosis. Life. At first glance, this seems impossible even to Ezekiel (verse 3). After all, bringing dead things to life seems inconceivable. But we know that our God makes the impossible, possible! In Luke 18:27, Jesus proclaims, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” All things are possible with God, even bringing the dead to life. Jesus did it multiple times in His ministry. He resurrected the child of a widowed woman (Luke 7); He resurrected Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5); and He resurrected Lazarus (John 11). Then, there is Jesus’ own Resurrection, and His victory over sin and death. God specializes in bringing dead things to life.

In Ezekiel 37, God also gives us the perfect prescription to curse this death. God’s Word and God’s Spirit are the requirements for revival. This is how God brings the dead to life. Dead people do not need a self-help plan, or a substance to escape their reality, or a list of “to-do’s” to be a better person. No, dead people need someone to declare the living Word of God to them. But if you want life, then God’s Spirit also must be present. This is illustrated in verses 7–10. Just like in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2, God’s Spirit (“ruach”), which is the same Hebrew word as “breath,” brings life. Dead and dry people need the Word of God and the Spirit of God. God makes dry bones come alive!

Jarrett Stephens serves as Teaching Pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. Follow Jarrett on Twitter: @jarrettstephens

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