Foundational Scriptures: Ezekiel 37:1-14
As I reflect on my life’s history and contemplate the many struggles and vicissitudes, the ups and downs, the ins and outs, I find myself asking the same invariable question my ancestors posed many years ago -How did I make it? I must say that my soul looks back in wonder of how I made it through.
To my fellow Christians that are going through right now, God has sent forth His Word so that it may bring healing. The sun is downing just over the mountain top.
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ 1 Peter 6,7
I’ve said this more than once and I will venture to say it once more; It is only when the Christian warrior has been tested by the fierce and vehement winds of adversity that he proves himself genuine in his faith, while at the same time discovering the awesome power and ability of God to deliver and restore.
Not until you’ve been pushed to the brink of despair will your true character and integrity shine forth. Not until you have reached that place in which family and friends have no bearing on the outcome of your situation, that place at which you have been left with but two choices: Trust God or perish into the abyss of failure. Only by choosing to stand on the infallible promises of God will the genuineness of your faith be validated.
My dear Christian friends, if you have not yet found yourselves in this place of vulnerability and frailty, just wait……but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
Now, if one must be tested, it only stands to reason that such a one should spend a significant amount of time preparing for the exam. How does one prepare for life’s tests? – By the daily study, intake, absorption, metabolism, and inculcation of Bible doctrine. This develops the foundation for every Christian function -faith! Faith is then applied to situations and circumstances of life.
2 Corinthians 5:7 establishes the fact that we walk by faith and not by sight.
Faith – Here is that unavoidable word that is embedded in the existence of the life of every Christian. Without faith, the Christian life is void and hopeless; virtually nonexistent. Without faith your Christianity is an illusion that bears no true power. Without faith there is no power source. Without faith there is no peace. Without faith there is fulfillment of purpose and destiny. So, if the apprehension of faith is paramount in this ethereal journey of Christianity, how must one go about obtaining it?
Romans 10:17 says faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God!” Faith, then comes to man when they hear the Word preached by called men of God. William Mac Author adds this to the point of hearing, “But hearing with the ears is not enough, a person must hear with an open heart and mind, willing to be shown the Truth of God. If he does, he will find that the Word has the ring of truth and the truth is self-authenticating. He will then believe (Believers Bible Commentary). Once again we are magnetically drawn to the truth and relevance of God’s word. Faith is therefore built upon the unshakeable foundation of the infallible Word of God. Faith then, is receiving the testimony of God, as He has revealed it to us in His Word, as unadulterated truth and then standing and acting on that truth; this is faith.
Though today’s message deals with restoration, we cannot lose our focus on faith, for restoration is filtered through and encapsulated by faith. A faith that says all things are possible through God; even delivery and restoration from the consequences and repercussions of our own actions. Oh how the devil desires to drape the anvil of past failures around our necks in an attempt to produce a guilt complex that stifles our growth and impedes our progress. Yet, we will find that the God we serve is a God of second chances; not only affording us a new opportunity to succeed where we have failed, but also providing the power through which to do it.
We begin our journey in verse one with the prophet Ezekiel being brought out in the Spirit of the Lord and set in the midst of the Valley of Dry Bones.
Allow me a diminutive degree of digression if you will. There are many hermeneutics (rules, principles, techniques, etc.) when studying God’s Word, one of which isagogics. -Isagogics is the interpretation of scripture within the frame work of its historical setting or prophetical environment. Lucidly speaking, Isagogics gives consideration to the date of authorship, the audience, and the reason.
With this in mind, we will take notice that Ezekiel is an Old Testament prophet, a contemporary of Jeremiah and Daniel. He prophesied from 593-571 B.C. Ezekiel was taken captive and exiled to Babylon during the second of three raids by the Chaldeans led by Kind Nebuchadnezzer. During the third and final raid in 586 B.C, the third deportation took place and the temple was destroyed. This fifth cycle of discipline (As outlined in Leviticus Chapter 26) lasted for seventy years, another Biblical prophecy fulfilled.
Through this diminutive bit of background information, we can ascertain quite a bit. First thing would be that Ezekiel is an Old Testament Prophet; meaning he received his revelations through direct communication from God via visions, theophanies, and audible mandates; which explain verse one.
Next, we can understand the state that the nation of Judah was in at the time, the Jews were in a very dark time in their history. They had every reason to give up and acquiesce to the despair of the moment. This pit of despair is of their own doing, yet we will find out that God has honored his promise to never leave nor forsake them.
Now that we have laid the foundation, let us move on.
Ezekiel has been placed in the Valley of Dry Bones; a valley that represents death in the worst way. These bones represented the nation of Judah. Whether the placement in this valley is by vision or literal is irrelevant in the scope of its message.
Next, comes the question, “Son of man, can these bones live? Ezekiel’s answer was succinct, yet immensely profound. -”O Lord God, You know”. At first glance, it may seem that Ezekiel did not answer the question, but deferred to God, but he did answer when he said, “O Lord God.” -Through God, all things are possible. When Ezekiel acknowledged God he acknowledged the possibilities.
-More than deferring, Ezekiel was saying, O Lord God, you don’t even have to ask.
Now, the command, Prophecy to these bones -Preach to the bones, tell them to hear my words. God too, has said to me, son of man, can I revive and restore those who are called by my name? My answer every morning is the same, O Lord God you are able and you are willing. Be sure of this, for those that truly come to God and know that he is, this will be a year of restoration.
I can imagine how Ezekiel must have felt, being asked to preach to the dead, because there are times when I feel I am preaching to the dead. They are there, but they are not listening. They hear, but they do not comprehend. I hear the amen corner, but I don’t see the victorious soldier.
“Surely, I will cause breath to enter into you and you shall live.” I would like to bring elucidation to the word “surely“.
Webster’s definition for surely is -without doubt, certainty. The Word surely here should bring an unwavering confidence; not only in God’s ability but his willingness to perform what he has promised. If God said it, I believe it and that settles it. It will happen.
Verse 6 ends with “Then you shall know that I am the Lord. The work that I am about to perform, that “new thing” of Isaiah 43:19 will be so complete, so awesome, so abundant that it will leave no doubt that God himself performed it. When God shows up, He shows out.
The next verse, verse 7, is of the utmost importance. “So I prophesied as I was commanded.” Here we have one of the three quintessential elements that are imperative if we are to experience the process of deliverance and restoration – obedience; the remaining two being faith and patience. “Behold to obey is better than sacrifice (1 Sam 15:22).” Ezekiel did not question God, he simply believed and his faith resulted in obedience.
“Faith without work is dead (James 2:17)
As Ezekiel prophesied, he heard a noise. Keep in mind that there is no one out there but him. In our obedience to God we will be taken back in absolute astonishment by His movement in our situations. He is a God of abundance and profusion not of mediocrity. The scripture goes on to tell us that the bones came together and became flesh, but there was no breath in them. These bones were like so many of us today -They did not get the entire message the first time around. They grasped the whole bone and flesh thing, but not the part about the breath. So, God told Ezekiel to prophesy to the breath. It can also be translated spirit. Here the breath or winds represented the power of the Holy Spirit to quicken or bring life to that which was dead.
Ezekiel once again did as he was told and upon doing so the breath of life entered these bodies which then stood upon their feet an exceeding and great army. I ask you now, are your bones dry and brittle? Are you being tossed by the winds of despair? If so, hold on, God has a word for you.
Then the Lord spoke to Ezekiel and said these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say our bones are dry, our hope is lost and we ourselves are cut off. Therefore prophesy and say to them…behold my people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord when I have opened your graves – I will put my Spirit in you and you shall live.
There are many of you today who have become overwhelmed in your particular circumstances. The pernicious and incessant attacks of the enemy have left you dangling by the circumscribed cards of despair and destitution. A vehement sense of hopelessness has began to threaten your very existence. However, I have good news.
God desires to renew, rejuvenate, and restore. In essence, He has sent me to tell you: no more dry bones!” The enemy would like for you to feel lost and alone, but God has promised never to leave you alone -”No more dry bones”” You may be at the most darkest of times, yet God’s command remains. “No more dry bones”! Like David your friends may have become your enemies, but I exhort you to give yourself to prayer. I come to tell you today, “No more dry bones”! There may be stress, tension, and uncertainty in your marriage, but God sustains, “No more dry bones”! Your heart is heavy and your pillow is drenched with tears -”No more dry bones”. Everywhere you turn is trouble, but trouble don’t last always -”No more dry bones”.
If you have to cry right now, that’s okay, go ahead because weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning -”No more dry bones”.
God through Christ has positioned us for blessings and deliverance. He is about to breath life into your situation. “Wait on the Lord and be of good courage and He will strengthen your heart, wait I say on the Lord (Psalms 27:14)“…Wait for the Lord, and He will save you.” (Proverbs 20:22)
God has offered His Son for our sins so that through Him, we might have eternal life -This is salvation.
Christ paid the penalty for our sins -This is propitiation.
The sacrifice of Christ at the cross satisfied the wrath of God -This is expiation.
God imputed His righteousness to us -This is justification.
God renewed fellowship with us -This is reconciliation.
Because of God’s gifts, we lift our hands in praise -This is celebration.
In Christ, we have an unspeakable joy -This is elation.
Each day we are becoming more like Him -This is sanctification.
We have been anointed and ordained with a purpose -This is predestination.
We have been set free from the enemy -This is emancipation
God has declared us victorious over the enemy -This is declaration.
When we proclaim the power of God aloud -This is recitation.
When we turn away from evil -This is cessation
God is about to revive your hopes -This is resuscitation.
God is about to bring you back to a fullness -This is restoration.
Finally God will bring you to the fullness of purpose -This is glorification.
Your breakthrough is coming. Hold on, remain steadfast in prayer. God is about to bust a move. Remember, No More Dry Bones!
Bishop Rick Wallace