The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”
Most of the book of Ezekiel is pretty bleak. The prophecy of judgment here was not a new thing for Israel and Judah as they flip-flopped over the generations from being faithful to the Lord to defiling themselves and his name. Ezekiel’s prophecy of judgment was not only over God’s people but over their enemies and even over inanimate objects like mountains. It takes thirty-six chapters before we see a glimmer of hope. Three quarters of this book is doom and gloom before light appears, but here it is. God gives Ezekiel a picture of bringing life to something that appears to be beyond death, and there are two key points to remember about this vision.
The first point is that the transformation seen in this vision is about God being glorified. In the previous chapter, the Lord says his concern is for the reputation of his name. This is not an exercise in vanity but an exercise in justice. It was unjust for God’s people to defile his name through their ways and their deeds. This rebirth of the dry bones is about the Lord, not the bones. The second thing to remember is that these dry bones represent God’s people. We often hear messages teaching that our circumstances or relationships can be our dry bones, and God can speak life into them. However, this is a gross misapplication. This vision is about God breathing life back into his people who are living like the spiritually dead, and He is doing this not for their sake but for his. Their lives are a reflection of him.
God says over and over in this book “then they shall know that I am the Lord” or “then you shall know that I am the Lord”. God’s people Israel and Judah existed to usher in Messiah and legitimize the Lord. Their history would make the way for his entrance while also glorifying God before the nations in their time. The point was for the Lord to be known. The point was for his people to be different from the world. When it looks like there is no life to his name in this world, God will awaken his people for his name’s sake. He will not let the sun set on his holy reputation, and all will come to know in time that He is the Lord. Father, keep us from living like the spiritually dead, and help us to always honor and glorify your name by our ways and deeds.