Drying Out the Bones

1The hand of YHWH grabbed me and took me by the spirit of YHWH and set me down in a valley. The valley was full of bones. 2He made me pass over them all around, and there were very many of them all over the valley and they were very dry.

3And he said to me, “Human! Can these bones live?”

And I said, “My Lord YHWH, you know.”

And he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, ‘Oh dry bones, hear the word of YHWH! 5This is what YHWH says to these dry bones, “Look! I’m bringing breath among you and you will live! 6And I will put sinews on you and I will bring up flesh on you, and I will cover you with skin, and I will give you breath and you will live and you will know that I am YHWH.”’”

So I prophesied as I had been commanded, and there was a sound while I prophesied and a clatter, and the bones were gathering together, one bone to another. 8And I looked and sinews were placed on them, and flesh rose up on them, and skin on top of that, but there was no breath in them.

And he said to he, “Prophesy to the breath! Prophesy human! Say to the breath, ‘This is what the Lord YHWH says, “Come from the four winds, oh breath, and blow into these dead bodies that they may live!”’”

10So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath went into them, and they lived and they stood on their feet, and very, very large crowd. — Ezekiel 37:1-14

I apologize for the irregular devotionals for the last couple of weeks. It started with the flu and went downhill from there, but now it is all getting back into shape. I didn’t help fill a valley with my bones, but I did need a little healing and revival!

Yesterday I presented the message at the 11 AM service at Gonzalez UMC, and my title was “Drying Out the Bones.” Now this is a somewhat different way of looking at this passage. Normally we just assume the bones, and we look for the miracle experienced by Ezekiel in vision as the bones come together, receive flesh, and then come back to life.

But I started to ask myself just how it is that a valley gets filled with all these bones. What dries them out?

In several stories from the Bible I found three ‘D’ words that I think tell us how the bones get dried.

  1. Discontent – just like the Israelites in Exodus 17, we get dissatisfied with what God is doing and instead of taking action to make things better, we complain.
  2. Dissension – once there is discontent, dissension will always follow. People who are complaining need a target, and it doesn’t have to be a logical one. The Israelites complained first against Moses, but eventually they wound up complaining directly against God.
  3. Disobedience – enough dissension, and we decide to do things our own way. In the story of Exodus this came to a head in Exodus 32 with the making of the golden calf.

These three D’s lead to the valley of dry bones over and over again in scripture. So is the story always negative? Does it end badly?

Not at all. God’s Spirit, with which we are all baptized into one body (1 Corinthians 12:12-13) is the source of new life and revival. We may have to see rock bottom before we realize it, but whenever we’re ready to let God’s Spirit renew us and bring us new life, He is ready.

The coming two weeks in the church calendar are about the sacrifice of Jesus, and then about that resurrection power. He was crucified, dead, and buried, but on the third day he arose from the dead.

Dry bones don’t have to stay dry!

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