The Cure For Very Dry Bones

Dry bones
Photo by Trollinho on Unsplash

Ezekiel 37:1-3 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, 2 and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.

Before I was called of God to pastor, as a young Christian I sat under several preachers who loved to preach from this text. I have heard this text preached from different perspectives.
1. Some speak of these dry bones, and tell us that it speaks of the Resurrection of the Christian. The bodies that we have are but “earthen vessels” that will one day pass away (2 Corinthians 4:7). When the Christian dies, the body goes into the ground, but the soul goes to be with the Lord. Our Lord Jesus said:

John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

For the believer in God, death is but a momentary veil. When we are absent from the body, we who have Christ are present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). Jesus said,

John 11:26 … whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Though one day we will all pass through physical death if the Lord tarries (for I believe that some, like Elijah and Enoch, will pass into glory apart from death), that those dead bones shall live, for God shall make them live. What a wonderful truth our faith has in the resurrection of Christ. However, this text does not actually deal with the glorification and resurrection of God’s children.

2. I have heard this text preached to revive dead and Laodicean churches. One pastor, the late Frank O’Brien, often used this approach when challenging Loch Laurel Baptist to stir itself, and reach out to a lost and dying world. Though there are many local churches that are filled with “dry bones” today, this text is not addressing the Church of Christ when it asks “Can these bones live?”. It is certain that the Church in America is lethargic, entertainment driven, and in many cases indistinguishable from the darkness. But there are better passages that would rebuke the spirit of Laodicea. In particular, I think of the words of our Lord Jesus:

Revelation 3:15-18 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see.

No, our text today doesn’t speak of the wayward Church in America. There are other texts that address this sad truth in a direct way.

3. I have heard this text used to encourage those who are discouraged, who have lost the zeal for life because of dark days and trials. I must admit that there are days in my life when it is hard for me to get up and go – that I feel like a bunch of dried up bones! It seems as if God is miles away, though I know that He is not, for He has promised

Hebrews 13:5 … I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

No, rather than preach this text on depression, there are better and more appropriate texts that address this. Texts like:

Psalm 80:19 Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

Or Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

What is this text specifically about? When you are reading your Bible, always read the context. The context will often answer the questions you have much better than the best commentary will. God tells us what these bones are. He says:

Ezekiel 37:11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel:

This valley of dry bones is a picture of Israel, which has departed from following the Living God. God gives this vision to Ezekiel, whose name means “The Strength of God”. Ezekiel was a pastor in Israel, a Levite Priest, the son of Buzi (Ezekiel 1:3). We know little about “Buzi” except that his name means “My Contempt” or “Condemned of Jehovah”. Ezekiel is a picture of the Grace of God. Born in sin, of a father called “Condemned of Jehovah”, grace made him “Ezekiel, the Strength of God”. Chuck Swindoll tells us:

“Ezekiel lived among the Jewish exiles in Babylon at a settlement along the river Chebar called Tel-abib (Ezekiel 3:15), less than one hundred miles south of Babylon. The invading Babylonians brought about ten thousand Jews to the village in 597 BC, including Ezekiel and the last king of Judah, Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:8–14).”.

This text is addressed specifically to Israel, an Israel that had wandered away from God. Though addressed to Israel, there are many truths in the text that apply to us.

Israel Was Started From Dry Bones

Ezekiel is given a vision from God. Notice the first few verses:

Ezekiel 37:1-2 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, 2 and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.

Ezekiel is not given the vision because he is better or worse than anyone else. Ezekiel is given the vision entirely by Grace. Notice how Ezekiel opens the vision: “the hand of the Lord was upon me”. God grabbed hold of Ezekiel. He lifted Ezekiel’s spirit up. God “carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones”. God did not ask Ezekiel “Where would you like to go today?” No, there was no free will involved in this. God grabbed his soul. God moved him to a valley. God “caused me to pass by them round about”.

Our God is the Sovereign God. He has a right to do with what He created as He wishes. God is not apologetic or politically correct when He says:

Isaiah 45:7-9 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. 8 Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it. 9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?

Our God is sovereign! I am glad our God is sovereign, because Ezekiel saw:

Ezekiel 37:2 … there were VERY MANY {bones} in the open valley; and, lo, they were VERY DRY.

These are not fresh bones, nor bones with a little flesh on them. These bones were VERY MANY: more than Ezekiel could number. These bones were VERY DRY: absolutely dead – there was nothing of life in them. As Ezekiel views these bones, God asks Ezekiel a very simple question:

Ezekiel 37:3 … Son of man, can these bones live?

These bones are VERY MANY and VERY DRY. It is an overwhelming darkness, a place where there was absolutely no light. What can we do? Can we form a committee and look into this thing? Can we hire some specialists who know about reconstitution? What can we do? Ezekiel gives the only sane reply that anyone can give. He tells the Lord:

Ezekiel 37:3 … O Lord GOD, Thou knowest

Ezekiel addresses God as אֲדֹנָי יְהֹוָה or Adonai Yahweh. Only the Creator God can take the “dust of the ground” and make a person (Genesis 2:7). Only God can take dry bones, very dry bones, and bring life to them.

Israel the nation came from dry bones, very dry bones. An old man named Abram was childless (Genesis 11:30), and at the age of 75 years old (Genesis 12:4) was well past child bearing years. Abram was a “very dry bone” when God reached out to him, saying:

Genesis 12:1-2 … Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 and I will make of thee a great nation…

God was going to do something fantastic with Abram – one day to be Abraham. God would take a man who could not bear children, and bring life out of him. God offered this by Grace. God in essence told Abraham:

“Follow Me, and I will make you live, and bring forth life
where there is no possibility of life”

When Abraham was 100 years old Isaac was born to him (Genesis 21:5). This is Grace. God brings life out of death. Thank God for His unspeakable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15).

But Abraham and Isaac are only the beginning of God’s Grace. God would allow a child of Abraham named Joseph to be sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Joseph was 17 years old (Genesis 37:2) when his brothers betrayed him.

Genesis 41:46 Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.

Joseph – the apple of his father Jacob’s eye – was made a very dry bone. Imprisoned for 13 years, first as a slave, then as a prisoner, God gave life where there was death. Joseph rose up to be the right hand man to Pharaoh. God used Joseph to make

Israel the family become Israel the nation. It was God Who grew the very dry bones into Israel.

Over time, Israel the nation, like Joseph before her, became slaves, a nation of very dry bones. The Bible says:

Exodus 12:40-41 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. 41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.

Over 430 years Israel the family became Israel the nation. God took that very dry bony nation called Israel out of Egypt. Again, we see the Grace of God. Israel was in an impossible place, but as our Jesus said:

Matthew 19:26 … With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

It is by Grace that very dry bones are brought to life. It is by Grace that life comes out of death. Only God can bring forth this Grace. “Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest”.

God offered free Grace to Abraham, offered to bring life out of death to Israel. God did not choose Israel because she was a great nation. She was nothing before God called her in an old, wore out Chaldean. God reminded His people:

Deuteronomy 7:7-8 The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8 but because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Israel was Israel because of God’s Grace. She did not earn it, nor deserve it, but was brought from a state of very dry bones because she responded to the offer of God’s Grace.

The Word Of God Brings Life Out Of Death

Ezekiel 37:4-6 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 and I will lay sinews 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.

How does life come into very dry bones? It comes only by the Word of God. The Lord GOD – Adonai Yahweh – told Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 37:4 Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord

In order for life to come into these very dry bones Ezekiel had to so something that looked foolish! He was to PROPHESY (Hebrew נָבָא nâbâʼ, {pronounced naw-baw’}) – to speak the Word that God says. Ezekiel was to say to the very dry bones, “HEAR” (שָׁמַע shâmaʻ, {pronounced shaw-mah’}), which means “listen to and OBEY”. This is an impossible thing that Ezekiel is to do. He speaks to dry bones, to very dry bones. But not his word, but HIS WORD, God’s Word. It is the Word of God that gives life. Ezekiel cannot give life, but he can do what God says, and God will cause life.

We see this amazing thing frequently in the ministry of Jesus. Jesus told the man who had been crippled for 38 years – THIRTY EIGHT YEARS –

How can one who was crippled 38 years do this? Is this not cruelty? No, it is the Word of the Lord. “Immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked” (John 5:9). The God Who commanded creation into existence can certainly cause dry bones to live. The God Who told Moses, “Stretch out thy hand over the sea, and divide it” (Exodus 14:16) is the same God Who told the man with the withered hand:

Mark 3:5 … Stretch forth thy hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other ..

John 5:8 … Rise, take up thy bed, and walk!

Israel is now a alley of very dry bones, but if she will hear the Word of God, the Lord will restore her to power. Salvation comes by Grace.

Life comes by the Word of God.
Death comes as the wage of sin.

To be reconstituted, to be made more than a valley of very dry bones, Israel must remember and return to the Word of God. God told His people:

Deuteronomy 7:9-11 Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; 10 and repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. 11 Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.

Salvation is by Grace, but blessing by obedience to God.

Israel must return to the Word of God if they will be blessed. The Psalmist said

Psalm 119:25 My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me {give me life} according to Thy Word.

It is God’s Word that can make these very dry bones live. Only God’s Word can do this. Ezekiel can do nothing but

Hebrews 10:23 … HOLD FAST the profession of our faith without waivering (for He is faithful that promised)

It is the Word of God that gives life. Though the world itself considers the Word of God to be foolish – it is the Word of God that will bring life to death. God said:

Ezekiel 37:5-6 Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 and I will lay sinews 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.

So what did Ezekiel do? He did as God said. And as he did what God said, miraculous things occurred:

Ezekiel 37:7-8 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. 8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.

Ezekiel spoke the Word of God, and the dry bones came together. The skeleton assembled, and the sinews, the flesh and muscle, along with the skin came on the bones. But there was a problem. “there was no breath in them”. The Word of God alone did not bring life. There must be a connection with God. God tells Ezekiel:

It Is The Word of God AND The Holy Spirit
That Brings Life

Ezekiel 37:9-10 Then said {the Lord GOD} unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, 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. 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.

Ezekiel was to prophesy or speak the Word of God to the dry bones. But he was also to prophesy or speak “to the wind”. The word translated “WIND” is the Hebrew רוּחַ rûwach, {pronounced roo’-akh}, which indeed means “WIND” but can also be translated “SPIRIT”. The Blue Letter Bible notes that rûwach can refer to “{the} Spirit of God, the third person of the Triune God, the Holy Spirit, coequal, co-eternal with the Father and the Son”. It is not just the Word of God that brings life, but THE SPIRIT OF GOD MUST BE INVITED INTO THE PROCESS.

Many followed after Jesus when He walked this earth. But one day as He preached a hard truth the Bible says:

John 6:60-65 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? 61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? 62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 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. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

God the Holy Spirit must be involved in the salvation of very dry bones. The Apostle Paul told the Church at Corinth:

2 Corinthians 3:3-6 … ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

It is “the spirit {that} giveth life”. Life comes when the Word of God is spoken in the power of God. Paul warned in another place:

Galatians 6:7-9 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Israel sowed to the flesh, and reaped corruption as a nation. But God promised to bring life back to the very dry bones of that nation. How would He do this? Only by Ezekiel doing as he was told. Ezekiel must speak the Word of God, partnered with the Spirit of God – and those very dry bones can live. The power of salvation is totally in God! God told Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 37:11-14 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. 12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.

Is There An Application For Us In Today’s Text?

Absolutely! I hear so many Christians bemoan the fact that America has fallen far from God, and it seems as if only darkness reigns. America is in no worst a state than Israel was in under Babylonian captivity. We are captured today by cancel culture, political correctness, extreme leftism, and our culture as well as our children are being taught that God’s design in gender is totally optional, based upon the desire of a person. What is the solution to our country’s woes? It is to share the Word of God in partnership with the Spirit of God.

When Christ ascended into Heaven He told His little Church of 120 souls:

Acts 1:4, 8 … that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but WAIT FOR THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me .. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy {Spirit} is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Our God is able to bring America – and the Church in America – back from the brink of destruction. But we must adhere to and share His Word in the power of His Holy Spirit. The true Christian, like the true Jew:

Romans 2:29 … is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If so, you have the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9, 11). The Holy Spirit is in you. The only way we will reverse the fall of America is to, as Ezekiels, speak to the very dry bones the Word of God in the power of God the Holy Spirit. We need to be a Bible believing, Bible living, Spirit empowered Church to be the light of the world. This begins by each one of us committing to love God with all that we are, and to love our neighbor – even our enemies – the way that we want to be loved. We can no more rely upon someone else – we must be someone else. Our God is able! Let us not despair, but rise up, and share Christ in the power of God’s Spirit with those around us. May God give us the strength and faith as His Church to do this – for Christ’s glory! Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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