The hand of the LORD was on me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD…
The picture so impressively presented in these verses is a picture of the Israelitish people in their Eastern captivity. The national life is for a period suspended. The people are dead and dry as bones scattered upon the surface of an open valley which has been the scene of carnage in battle. Yet the description is always and justly held to portray the moral condition of our sinful humanity apart from the quickening interposition of the Lord and Giver of life.
I. SPIRITUAL ENLIGHTENMENT REVEALS WHAT IS REAL BENEATH WHAT IS APPARENT. To other eyes no such vision as that which broke upon the sight of the inspired prophet was accorded. On the contrary, men might have looked upon Israel - part of the people in captivity, and part still occupying the land of their fathers - and have seen nothing but such misfortune and calamity as are incident to human history. To the prophetic, quickened, illumined mind of Ezekiel the real state of the nation was manifest. In like manner, a superficial observer might direct his attention to the human race without apprehending its spiritual condition as one of deprivation, of gloom, of death; he might be dazzled by external splendor and prosperity, and it might not occur to him that beneath the fair and glittering outside there was concealed from his eyes what, after all, is the most important characteristic of humanity, regarded spiritually.
II. THE REALITY TO BE RECOGNIZED IS THE PRESENCE AND THE POWER OF SPIRITUAL DEATH.
1. The cause of this is sin. Life flows from communion with him who is the ever-living Fountain of life. Severed from God, the soul cannot live.
2. The effects and signs of this death are numerous and evident. Insensibility to Divine truth, to virtue, to immortality, may be mentioned as most impressively brought before us in the vision which Ezekiel saw. The dry bones lay scattered about the plain, insensible to everything, to every presence about them, neither affected by any occurrence nor initiating any movement. Such is the state of the spiritually dead - the "dead in trespasses and sins."
III. HOPELESSNESS DISTINGUISHES THE STATE OF THE SPIRITUALLY DEAD. "Son of man, can these bones live?" If the answer depended upon human sagacity, if the means to awaken life were such as are available to human wisdom alone, such as are known by human experience, there can be but one answer "Life is impossible! ' Who that locked upon pro-Christian society could cherish the hope that from that necropolis there could start into vitality and activity a host of living, consecrated beings, filled with the life of God, eager to do the work of God? Could the Church have grown out of the world? The supposition is an absurdity. The prophet's reply to the inquiry was the only reply that was reasonable. All depended upon God; man was powerless and hopeless for revival. "O Lord God, thou knowest!" - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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,