The Vision of Dry Bones
Ezekiel 37:1-14
The hand of the LORD was on me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD…

As an architect, before erecting a mansion, sketches accurately all his plan on paper - a guide to himself and to his co-workers - so, prior to God's resuscitation of Israel, he sketches out his plan before the mental eye of Ezekiel. By a mighty influence from God, the prophet is borne away in spirit to a great valley in Chaldea, devoted to the burial of Israel's dead. The spot possibly was sadly familiar to the prophet's eye. The loose sand had been swept aside by some violent tornado. The bones of the buried were exposed, and were dry and bleached by the tropical sun. It was a pitiable and repulsive spectacle. That such vestiges of human beings could be reclothed in flesh and raised again to life seemed, to human view, impossible; and Ezekiel did wisely to refer the matter back to God. The man of God is commanded to address these silent remnants of human nature, and to announce to them God's high design; and while he spake, lo! a noise, a movement, bone sought its fellow-bone. Flesh silently grew upon these skeletons, and a fair covering of skin veiled the rugged flesh. Still, it was a valley of death - a spectacle more revolting than before. Again Ezekiel is summoned to prophesy, and this time to prophesy to the winds. Then the breath of life passed into those ghastly forms; the dead stood erect and strong - an army of living men, a nation. Such was the vision - a vivid picture imprinted on the mind.

I. MARK ISRAEL'S DESPERATE CONDITION. Whatever may have been the fortunes of some individuals, as a nation their fortunes were deplorable. All that was distinctive about Israel had vanished. Tithings, temple ritual, priesthood, Passover, distinction in meats, - all had disappeared. They were fast becoming amalgamated, in language, habits, and occupation, with their conquerors. As a body, they were utterly dislocated. Their several orders had vanished. The organism was broken up. Their national life was destroyed. Their condition was deplorable, fitly symbolized by dry and dissevered bones. Prospect of restoration there was none. The faithful few were sinking into despair. Vivid picture this of human nature severed from the living God. Compared with the purity and nobleness that might be, the condition is aptly figured by death. Filial love and trust are dead. Conscience, the sense of right, is dead. Heavenly aspirations are dead. The hope of immortality is dead. Departing from God, men become "earthly, sensual, devilish." The captivity of the grave aptly symbolizes their estate. The high design of their being is frustrated. Severance from God is followed by the rupture of social ties, mutual discords, and mutual hate.

II. ISRAEL'S PROSPECT OF NEW ORGANIZATION. The prospect is due solely to the interposition of God. He proposes a tremendous question to his servant, "Can these bones live?" Devoutly the prophet refers the question back to God. By proposing difficult questions to his servants, God stimulates them to reflection, concentrates their attention upon salient points, teaches them a modest estimate of their powers.

1. In elevating mankind there is need for the prophet's mission. As the greatest enemy of mankind is man, so man can be a real friend and helper to his race. The world is deeply indebted to its teachers. All the ages are indebted to Moses, to Solon, to Socrates, and to St. Paul. The man who can lay his finger upon a plague-spot and. announce a remedy, the man who can lead a nation up to a higher level of life, is a benefactor to the face. Most of all, the man who can reveal to us God, who can unveil to us his character, his designs concerning us, our duty to him, he is of all men the most influential, the most kingly.

2. No real improvement in human nature can be achieved without God's power. Although the man of God was charged to prophesy, his message simply declared what God was about to do. "I will lay sinews upon you; I will bring up flesh upon you; I will cover you with skin," saith the Lord God. No amelioration is abiding that does not come from God. All political organization that is to produce benefit to a nation must be full of God. Every step in the process of moral elevation must have God in it. We can only act successfully while we act in the line of his Law, and have all the channels we create filled with a Divine force. God deigns to take a practical interest in the minutest affairs of men.

III. ORGANIZATION IS IMPOTENT WITHOUT LIFE. To the prophet's ecstatic vision the human organism was now complete. Every limb and member was articulated - was in its allotted place. But the great want was yet unmet. The highest endowment was lacking. Everything waited, in silent yearning, for life. Then the prophet is summoned to another duty. Having spoken to men, he must speak to God. He must invoke the vital breath of Heaven. For this great undertaking there is required all the fullness and force of the Divine Spirit. "Come from all quarters, O breath of life! Wind of the north, come and rouse men from their long slumber! Wind of the east, come and brace men's energies for new exertions. Wind of the west, come and bring fertilizing showers, that shall penetrate and soften the heart! Wind of the south, come, quicken the plants of grace and ripen the fruits of piety!" If only God be with us, the most difficult undertaking will succeed. If God did, at the first, create human nature out of nothing, the work of reconstruction cannot be more difficult. To God nothing is impossible. Omnipotence covers every task.

IV. A MAGNIFICENT RESULT. The prophet was not disobedient to the heavenly voice. As the echo responds to the speaker, so promptly did Divine influence attend the prophetic word. Under the direction and inspiration of God, human labor and prayer can produce prodigious effects. The scenes of death become scenes of life. A nation rises up as if out of its grave. By the manifested power of God's grace the highest personal life appears; the Church's life is created; national life is purged and elevated; and the resurrection to an imperishable life is assured. If God be on our side, no height of excellence is inaccessible; and if he has pledged his word, he will perform it in no stinted fashion. To have real childlike faith in God's word and in God's faithfulness brings the highest joy. To be in actual touch with God transfigures character and enriches human life. Heaven is begun on earth if we know God by personal and familiar experience. A grand climax of blessing is involved in the words, "Then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it." - D.

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.

The Vision of Dry Bones
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