From Death to Life
Ezekiel 37:1-12
The hand of the LORD was on me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD…

The primary reference Of this prophecy is placed beyond all doubt by the passage itself (see ver. 12).

1. Israel was in a forlorn and hopeless condition in her dispersion and captivity; she seemed to be irrecoverably lost; as a nation she was as one dead, if not buried.

2. But God had a gracious purpose concerning her. He intended to exercise his Divine power on her behalf; the dead should be revived; the lost should be found; the scattered should be restored and united.

3. That which seemed so hopeless is seen to be accomplished; instead of "a valley full of bones" (ver. 1) is "an exceeding great army" (ver. 10); instead of a "lost hope" (ver. 4) is a revived, and recovered nation (ver. 12). The true analogue to this vision of the prophet is the revival of the lost and dead human soul under the renewing and inspiring power of the Spirit of God. What is suggested here on this vital theme is -

I. THE FATAL AND HOPELESS CONDITION TO WHICH SIN REDUCES US. Could we see our sin-stricken humanity as it appears in the sight of God, then where now we look upon fair scenes and shows of beauty or activity, we should see a "valley full of dry bones" - a valley of death. Let "the dead bury their dead," said the Master. "She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth," said his apostle. To be separated from God in thought and sympathy; to be living in selfishness, in vanity, in sin; to be forfeiting our fair heritage of righteousness and holy service, and to lose our life in human gratifications or earthly acquisitions; - this is to be lost to God and wisdom; it is to have entered at least the outer shadows of the valley of death; and when sin has (tone its worst, when it has led the man or the community down to its nethermost abyss, then is he (or it) in such a state of spiritual deathfulness and hopelessness that all recovery seems impossible, as impossible as for a great mass of dry and disparted bones scattered on some broad valley to be readjusted and to be reanimated with life. "Can these bones live? No," human intelligence replies, "they are dead beyond all recovery." Yet is it well to remember that "the things which are impossible to man are possible with God;" and it is well to make reply, as in the text, "O Lord God, thou knowest." For God's reply is not in the negative. He summons to activity; and we have -


1. The human teacher. "He said unto me, Prophesy," etc. (ver. 4). "So I prophesied as I was commanded" (ver. 7). It is the bounden duty, the sacred privilege, of the human teacher - in the house, in the sanctuary, in the school, in the street, anywhere and everywhere that men will listen - to summon the lost ones to return, the fallen to rise, the slumbering to awake and to return unto the Lord their God.

2. The sinful souls themselves. "As I prophesied there was a noise, and behold a shaking," etc. (ver. 7). Men may seem as dead, and in a sadly serious sense they may be "dead in sin;" yet they are not so absolutely lifeless that there is no possible response in them when the word of Divine truth is spoken. On the contrary, they will respond; there is the spiritual movement which begins in being aroused, and which ends in the actual return of the heart unto its Divine Father, and its entrance into eternal life.

3. The Divine Spirit. "Prophesy unto the wind, breathe upon these slain, that they may live" (ver. 9). What the breathing wind in the prophet's image wrought, that now works the Holy Spirit of God. Vain the words of the teacher, the movement of the fallen and lost spirit, without the renewing and reviving energy that comes from God. But that does come. God waits to work with us and for us; and when there is honest effort accompanied' with earnest prayer, the breath of the Divine Spirit is not wanting; then comes -

III. THE BLESSED ISSUE IN NEWNESS OF LIFE. "They lived, and stood up... an exceeding great army [or 'force']" (ver. 10). The glorious issue of this agency, human and Divine, is

(1) life, - life in God's view, life in God, life unto God, life now and evermore with God; it is

(2) largely extended life, - an exceeding great army, innumerable, stretching over all lands and through all the centuries; it is

(3) powerful life, - the word translated army might be rendered force. The multitude of them that believe," and that have life by faith in Jesus Christ, should be a great force or power for good. If it did but realize its resources, and knew how strong it was in Christian truth and the power of God which is at command, it would do far "greater works" than any it has yet accomplished for its Master and for mankind. - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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,

WEB: The hand of Yahweh was on me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of Yahweh, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones.

Faith Refers All Possibility to God
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