- Religion and Philosophy
Lessons for today from the Old Testament: The valley of dry bones
Let God's light shine into your heart!
Ezekiel 37-The valley of dry bones
When the bones come alive it is a miracle of God's power.
One of the most vivid pictures in the Old Testament is recorded in Ezekiel 37. The message in the vision that Ezekiel relates is as important today as it was in those days. The vision starts with a valley in which the ground is covered with “very many dry bones”.
Ezekiel is told to prophecy to the bones and to tell them to listen to the word of the Lord. The promise of the message is that God is going to bring these dry bones to life. First he will give sinews and muscles and then cover them with skin. Then he will give them breath and life. Then Ezekiel will know that God is Lord.
As the prophet proclaims Gods message he hears a rattling noise and the bones begin to come together. As he watches, in obvious amazement, the skeletons are covered with skin. Then the prophet is told to prophecy to the wind and it comes from every direction to bring the dead bodies to life. So as the prophet obeys God’s command, the many bones come alive, “enough of them to form an army”.
It is a powerful vision with an equally powerful message. What did it mean then and what does it mean today? The message to the people in Ezekiel’s time is explained in chapter 37, verses eleven through fourteen and is at the same time, one of judgment, but also of hope. It can even be seen as a Messianic prophecy of the general resurrection that is to take place when Christ comes again. However, to the people of that time it must have been clear: “You are spiritually dead and need to come alive”. It also looked forward to a time of promise when Judah and Israel would again be united as one.
What does it mean to us today? On a practical level it speaks to the fact that many people are like bones lying on a valley floor. There can be nothing more desolate and despairing than coming into such a valley. Here would be evidence of previous human existence but now the picture is one without hope and dignity. These people did not enjoy the privilege of a decent burial, but must have died in battle or of thirst. Both these options are possible on a spiritual level.
Many todayhave fallen in the battle that takes place today between the Soldiers of the Cross and the army of Satan’s servants. So looking at society in general today, it can be said that looking through spiritual eyes the world would be a valley of dry bones. Lack of faith, belief in the distortion of reality by the father of all lies, Satan, and starvation because of neglected study of the Word has caused this disaster. The daily news is testimony to a world which, in many ways, is without hope and direction, battling to find its way.
The good news is that today, like in the time of Ezekiel, there is hope for the hopeless. The message that Jesus left with his disciples was to go into the whole world and tell them about a new kingdom, a new life, and a new hope. (Matthew 28:18/19) When in the parable of the prodigal son, (Luke 15:11-32) the lost son returns home, the father says “my son was dead but now he is alive.”
Like in the time of Ezekiel, hope comes through the proclamation of God’s Word. In Romans 1:16 Paul, writing to the church in Rome says: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” (N.I.V.) As the good news about Jesus is preached and people respond to the message they are brought to life. In the same letter the writer states: “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life”. (Romans 6:3/4 N.I.V.)
In Revelation 1:18 the words of Jesus comes to the Apostle John: " I am the Living One, I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever. And I hold the keys of death and Hades". In Revelation 11:11 the text says: "But after three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them and they stood on their feet..." Ezekiel like Revelation uses vivid symbolism to illustrate spiritual reality to us, who are living in this physical world need to come alive to live in God's Eternal Kingdom.
Today the vision of Ezekiel is as meaningful as it was yesterday. The dry bones scattered in the valley floor are symbolic of many today who are spiritually dead. Like in Old Testament times there is hope if the Word of God is proclaimed. Life can yet be put into those dry bones!
Reference: N.I.V. translation.