Ezekiel 37 contains one of my favorite stories in the entire Bible. It is the story of Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones:
The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then 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.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”
(Ezekiel 37:1-14 ESV)
This passage is so amazing. The bones are bones. They are the skeletons, the last remains of people long dead. They’re so old that they’re dry and brittle. These bones are not fresh; the bodies they once inhabited are long since gone and turned to dust.
But then God tells Ezekiel to prophesy over them and give them life. And Ezekiel, a son of man, does so and the bones come to life. Skin and tendons and organs appear around them and they are not just bones but bodies. And yet the work is not quite finished.
The bodies have no breath. They look alive, but they aren’t quite yet. So God tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the breath so they may live. Ezekiel once again does as God commands and before him stands a living, breathing army. The bones have been given life and breath.
There are so many parallels to us. This passage is still so extremely relevant to us today. We are the bones. Ephesians 2:1-3 says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (ESV). At one point, we were spiritually dead, separated from God forever as punishment for our sin. We were the dry bones.
But God saw us in our sinful state and He loved us. He chose us. He sent Jesus, the Son of Man, to live upon the earth as a man and live perfectly as we could not. Jesus lived and then died the most excruciating death possible so that our sinful nature would die with him. He spilled his blood so that we might be washed clean of our sins. But he didn’t just die on our behalf – he rose again to life three days later.
In Christ, we too have new life. Through faith in him, we are raised to new life, as the dry bones in Ezekiel’s time. They were dead, dry, and crumbling. But God didn’t leave them that way. He doesn’t leave us in our death, either. He wants to give us new life. He desires to bring us to Him and give us faith. He wants to call us His chosen people. That gift of life is completely free. Did the bones do anything to receive new life? No. They couldn’t. They were just bones. We do nothing to obtain this new life. It is placed upon us by the grace of God and secured by faith.
As if new life isn’t enough blessings, God has even more in store for us. The bones had living bodies, but they had no breath. God placed His Spirit into them so they would truly come to life. God gives us His Spirit as well. When we come to faith, His Spirit dwells within us. The Spirit is our every breath. God is dwelling inside you. He is remolding you to become more and more like His Spirit – a Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Do not remain dry bones. God has so much in store for you! He has given you the gift of life and His Spirit! Do not turn away. Receive His gifts and trust in His promises. God is faithful. His life is the only true life. Be raised from your graves! You were not created to be dead; you were created to live and live fully in Christ.