“O Ye Dry Bones, Hear the Word of the Lord!” (Ezekiel 37-39)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 37-39

Jerusalem is destroyed, the Temple a pile of charred debris, and Judah as a land has been left desolate. Ezekiel was ministering to a people who were strangers among a heathen, idolatrous nation. The prophets had foretold a captivity of seventy years before God would restore His people to their beloved Promise Land; however, the news of Jerusalem’s fall had left the people in a hopeless state.

With all in ruins, and the people scattered among the nations, what hope was there to return to their homeland?

Ezekiel 37 – Dry Bones Revived

Ezekiel 37 is a prophetic illustration of Israel’s resurrection after captivity, and the reunification of the people who had been divided into two nations since the close of King Solomon’s reign.

Ezekiel 37:1-14 – A Valley Full of Dry Bones

The LORD gave Ezekiel a vision of a valley that was full of dry bones and proposed the question: “Son of man, can these bones live?” (37:3)

This valley of dry bones appears to have been the scene of a great battle, and the bones were left after the flesh had decomposed. Of course, there was no life, because there was no flesh in the valley of dry bones. The prophet had long known the experience of preaching to the people of a dying nation, but now the LORD commanded Ezekiel, “Prophesy upon these bones” (37:4a).

God assured, “I will cause breath to enter into you [i.e. the dry bones], and ye shall live: 6  And I will lay sinews [tendons] upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD” (37:4-5).

Notice the phrase: “Ye shall know that I am the LORD” (37:5).

We have seen that phrase repeated throughout our study of Ezekiel. The purpose in God judging Israel, Judah, the Ammonites, Moabites, Assyria, and eventually Babylon has always been the same: That men would acknowledge that the God of Israel is the One True God and there is no other!

Obedient to the LORD’s command, Ezekiel began to prophesy to the valley of lifeless, dry bones (37:7). Suddenly there was a trembling in the valley as the bones began to come together, “bone to his bone… the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them” (37:7-9).

The scene before Ezekiel was a valley of lifeless bodies, perfectly whole, but with no life in them. The LORD then commanded Ezekiel, “Prophesy unto the wind [and] say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live” (37:9).

Imagine the scene: Ezekiel calling forth the wind in the name of the LORD, and suddenly there was a stirring throughout the valley as the slain “stood up upon their feet!” (37:10)

Ezekiel 37:11-14 gives us the interpretation and purpose of the vision of dry bones.

The dry bones in the valley were symbols of the “whole house of Israel,” both the northern ten tribes known as Israel, and Judah (37:11). The dry bones represented the hopeless state of God’s people (37:11b). Both Israel and Judah had become desolate lands, and the people were scattered among the nations of the world like the lifeless dry bones in the valley (37:11c).

Ezekiel’s message was to encourage the people that, though Israel appeared to be dead, and the hope of being a nation was lost, the LORD had not forgotten His covenant promises. He would gather His people and “bring [them] into the land of Israel” (37:12). He would breathe life into Israel by putting His spirit in them. The people would know that it was the LORD Who had “spoken it, and performed it” (37:14).

What lessons can you take from the valley of dry bones?

The valley of dry bones was a lifeless, hopeless scene; a national tragedy for Israel and Judah who had broken their covenant with God, and forsaken His Law and Commandments. Like the bones scattered in the valley, the people were scattered among the heathen nations. All seemed hopeless.

Your valley of dead, dry bones might be a crisis of health, a conflict with a loved one, or a besetting sin that has enslaved your soul. Remember, the same God who stirred a valley of lifeless bones and raised an army to its feet, is our God! The LORD is the giver of life and He is faithful to His promises. He will not forsake His people!

John 6:63 – “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

Romans 8:11 – “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make alive] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith