Then he said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost…
The interpretation of the vision of the valley of dry bones was given by the prophet himself. It was intended that the Israelites, when restored to their own land and to national unity and vigor, should discern in this restoration the hand of Divine Providence. A most unlikely event was about to happen, and Ezekiel desired that those in whose favor the great interposition was about to be wrought should be mindful, both of the condition of hopelessness into which they had been plunged by their own sins, and of the marvel of the Divine mercy to which they owed their deliverance, renewal, and revival.
I. THE DEATH AND DESPONDENCY OF THE CAPTIVITY. The Jewish people had endured many afflictions and chastisements; but the Captivity was the sorest disaster which had overtaken them, the profoundest humiliation into which they had been plunged. To so earnest a patriot as Ezekiel the case seemed, apart from Divine commiseration and help, one utterly depressing to contemplate. Human deliverer there was not; way of deliverance opened not up; the prospect was dark. The whole house of Israel, contemplating the situation, summed it up in the mournful exclamation, "Our hope is lost; we are clean cut off."
II. THE COMPASSIONATE INTERPOSITION OF THE DIVINE DELIVERER. When human help there was none, the Lord looked in pity upon his own. "Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, O my people." Their state was as that of those dead and buried out of men's sight. But with God nothing is impossible. His voice can summon even the dead to life. The hearts of kings and rulers are in his hands. He deviseth means whereby his banished ones may return.
III. THE SPIRITUAL ENERGY CONDITIONING THE RECOVERY AND RENEWAL. Providential intervention is not all that is necessary. An internal as well as an external condition is requisite. No great work on behalf of a nation can, any more than a great work on behalf of an individual, be effected apart from the state, the character, the purposes, the voluntary cooperation of those who are to be benefited. We have an intimation of this in the present case in the promise, "I will put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live." To put a people in their own territory would be of no avail to the national life were not the people gifted with a spirit of patriotism, of unity, of hopefulness, above all, of true religion. A restoration such as that effected for Israel, in order to be a real thing, must be accompanied by the new heart, the new national endeavor and patience, the new devotedness to the higher aims of social and political existence. God, who gives the boon, gives also the preparation by which the boon may be appropriated and used.
IV. THE RESTORATION ITSELF. This was mainly, at all events in the general apprehension, a political movement. The capital was reoccupied, the temple services were restored in something like their former dignity and beauty; the reputation of the nation was in some measure retrieved. But beyond all this, in the apprehension of the more thoughtful there was a religious reformation of greater interest and importance. The life from the dead was life unto Jehovah and unto his laws and ordinances - a life not ceremonial, but spiritual. Idolatry, at all events, was forever abandoned; many of the temptations of former times were for ever outgrown. Some good was thus effected, and good of such a nature as to confer a real service and blessing upon mankind.
V. THE GIVING OF GLORY TO WHOM IT WAS DUE. In two respects especially the Lord assured the Israelites, by his prophets, honor should accrue to himself through the return of his chosen people.
1. His power should be recognized as the true cause of the redemption.
2. His faithfulness should be adored by those to whom the promise had been given, and by whom the fulfillment of the promise was enjoyed. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.