Ezekiel 37:7
So I prophesied as I had been commanded. And as I prophesied, there was suddenly a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.
Sermons
The Resurrection of Dry BonesJ. Bailey, Ph. D.Ezekiel 37:7
The Resurrection of Dry BonesH. Melvill, B. D.Ezekiel 37:7
From Death to LifeW. Clarkson Ezekiel 37:1-12
A Moral ResurrectionJ. Gill.Ezekiel 37:1-14
Can These Bones LiveT. P. Forsyth, D. D.Ezekiel 37:1-14
Ezekiel's VisionR. Watson.Ezekiel 37:1-14
Faith Refers All Possibility to GodC. G. Macgregor.Ezekiel 37:1-14
Lessons from the Valley of VisionT. D. Anderson, B. A.Ezekiel 37:1-14
The Restoration and Conversion of the JewsEzekiel 37:1-14
The Valley of Dry BonesSermons by the Monday ClubEzekiel 37:1-14
The Valley of Dry Bones and the True PreacherHomilistEzekiel 37:1-14
The Valley of the DeadG. S. Barrett, B. A.Ezekiel 37:1-14
The Vision of a True RevivalUrijah R. Thomas.Ezekiel 37:1-14
The Vision of Dry BonesD. Moore, M. A.Ezekiel 37:1-14
The Vision of Dry BonesJ.D. Davies Ezekiel 37:1-14
The Vision of the Dry BonesCanon Liddon.Ezekiel 37:1-14
The Call to LifeJ.R. Thomson Ezekiel 37:4 -10
The sublimity of this vision is the sublimity, not of imagination, but of truth. But it was truth that was not open to every mind; it was truth discerned by an intellect quickened into supernatural insight and comprehension by the Divine Source alike of truth and of life.

I. THE MINISTRY OF PROPHECY.

1. It presumes intelligent natures to which the appeal is made.

2. It presumes a Supreme Authority by which the prophet is selected, fitted, and guided in the discharge of his &rice.

3. It presumes a ministerial nature and character, on the one side open to communications from God, on the other side sympathetic with those for whose benefit such communications are vouchsafed.

4. It presumes an occasion and circumstances, suggesting the fulfillment of a spiritual mission.

II. THE POWER AND AUTHORITY OF THE LIVING GOD ACCOMPANYING TRUE PROPHECY.

1. The prophet speaks at the Divine command. There are times when he is silent, and times when he utters the thoughts, the warnings, the exhortations, that are in him. When the command is given, then the silence is broken.

2. The prophet utters a Divine message. He speaks for God, and they who listen to him hear the voice of God.

3. His utterances are therefore altogether without regard to what men would call probabilities or even possibilities. Nothing could have been further from all human likelihood than that anything should follow upon such a ministry as that here described. The prophet was directed to address "dry bones," and to summon dry bones to "hear the word of the Lord!" Had he been other than a prophet, he would have deemed such a mission an absurdity. "God's ways are not our ways, neither our thoughts his thoughts."

4. A higher than human wisdom and might breathe in the utterances of the prophet. The dignity of his attitude, the sublimity of his thoughts, are not of this world. He must be either a pretender and a fanatic, or else a representative of God himself, who can make use of such language as Ezekiel records himself to have used: "Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live."

III. THE MOVEMENT EFFECTED BY THE AGENCY OF PROPHECY. In this impressive vision the prophet witnessed the power of the words he was directed to utter. A thundering noise and an earthquake followed his prophesying, and to his own amazement he saw bones come together - bone to his bone; he saw the bones clothed with sinews, flesh, and skin. This marvelous transformation was still unaccompanied by life. Surely a revelation to us of the great things that may be and are effected through the instrumentality of a personal and spiritual agency, which yet fall short of the highest and most beautiful and blessed of all effects, viz. spiritual vitality itself. Is it not still and ever the case that by human agencies men are taught, admonished, trained to habits of rectitude, encouraged in a useful life, by a Divine Power indeed - for all good of every grade is from God - but by an exercise of power which is yet inferior to the highest of all?

IV. THE NEW LIFE WHICH IS, IN CONSONANCE WITH PROPHECY, BREATHED BY DIVINE SPIRIT. The result of the summons to the breath from the four winds was at once and most wonderfully apparent. The dry bones lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army! It is impossible to believe that the significance of this glorious conclusion to the vision is exhausted by the restoration of the sons of Israel to their native soil and ancient inheritance. We have the authority of the prophet himself for believing that in this event there was a fulfillment of the vision. And it probably seemed to many observers almost as incredible that the Jews should be bought back from their captivity and should as a nation again live and prosper, as that the bones of the dead, strewn upon a battle-field, should be restored to life and should become again an army of mighty warriors. To the mind that thinks deeply and justly it will seem still more surprising that our humanity, sunk in the slumber and the death of sin, should awake to newness of life, should receive the Spirit of God, and should become his living army of truth and righteousness. It was the purpose of Christ's coming that we might have life, and that in abundance. It is the Spirit that quickeneth. Thus it may be said that the production, fullness, and increase of spiritual life is the main result of the advent of the Savior and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

V. THE TRANSFORMATION AND CONTRAST BROUGHT ABOUT IN FULFILMENT OF PROPHECY. God speaks by his herald and representative, and his word is a word of power. The disjointed and sundered are united, the dry bones are clothed with flesh, the dead live, movement and the glad sound of life follow the stillness and the silence of the grave. An army of the living God is fashioned out of material the most unlikely. Thus the presence and operation of the Eternal is made manifest, the flagging faith of men is revived, and the future of humanity is irradiated with immortal hope. - T.







So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
The prophecy of Ezekiel is a remarkable illustration of the nearness of the spiritual world, and of many of its laws, scenes, and circumstances The prophet was from time to time brought into the spiritual state in which the surrounding spirit world is seen, and he "saw visions of God." The fact that we are lying in two worlds is suggestive of the very deepest considerations. It solves the mystery of the earth's motions and its ever-abounding varied life. The earth lives because joined to a living world, as the body lives because joined to a living soul. We are united to matter as to our outer life, but as to our inner we are now living in eternity, and shall simply live on in the inner world when loosened from this outer sphere. We have companions, too, in the spirit, as well as in the body. The virtuous soul is Inked in spirit bonds with an innumerable company of angels: the wicked plotter against another's peace knows it not, and would that he knew it well, but he is the instrument of malignant fiends "more wicked than himself." The object of the vision before us was two fold, natural and spiritual, temporary and everlasting. It was given in its natural meaning to comfort the Israelites with a hope of their return from the captivity in which they were in Babylonia; and it was, in its spiritual meaning, to testify to every man's resurrection from the death of sin to the life of righteousness. The Lord opened the graves of captive Israel after they had declared that their very hope was lost; and this same Lord can and will restore us from the depths of difficulty, and even of despair, when our penitence has prepared us for future blessing. Let our language then ever be, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God, for thou shalt yet praise Him, who is the help of my countenance and my God." The natural man is dead to God, to heaven, to justice, to truth. Any possibility of resurrection arises from the inner man, which the Lord has implanted at each person's creation, and strengthened by heavenly influences, both from within and from without, from his childhood. But by this arrangement of Divine mercy, the resurrection from disorder and sin is possible. (John 5:24, 25; Ephesians 5:14; Philippians 3:11, 12.) These passages show, in the most striking manner, how truly in the light of Scripture we are dead by nature, and the absolute necessity of a spiritual resurrection. But all our experience teaches the same thing. How else is it that we are so cold to recognise the love of our heavenly Father, which yet surrounds us with blessings? that we are so prone to wrong, so difficult to be led to adopt the right? that heavenly wisdom is so undelightful to our minds, until our taste has become changed, while the merest folly, and often the worst pollutions, are greedily received? It is because of this depraved and deadened state of the lower degree of the soul. The state of the natural mind is described in the vision before us, by the valley which was full of bones. The natural mind is called a valley, because its principles, as compared with the elevated affections of heavenly love, are as a valley compared to mountains. The mountains are said to bring peace (Psalm 72:3), because the exalted affections which unite the soul to the Lord do indeed bring peace; but in the valleys, fruitfulness is found, for the works which are the fruits of religion can only be produced in practical life. All men start on their spiritual journey in the valley, and only by effort and by prayer ascend to higher, holier states. But the valley the prophet saw was full of bones. What are these bones? The doctrinal truths of religion which form the framework or skeleton of man's regenerate state, round which all other virtues fix and cluster, are as bones. These bones of doctrinal truth are taught in childhood. They are stored in the memory, but often, after that, neglected. In such case their condition is like that mentioned in the description before us, "they are very dry." You look upon the careless and indifferent possessor of the most sacred truths, and see them, if noticed at all, regarded as things of no account, and you are tempted to say, like the question put to the prophet, "Can these bones live?" Can they who hear with indifference the grandest themes, the most solemn appeals, really be awakened to their higher interests? While musing sadly over this desolation, a voice comes from heaven to the conscience, "Can these bones live?" And while we dare scarce venture to hope for so great a restoration, again the Divine mercy speaks within us the gracious promise: "Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones, Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live." Confidence is imparted to the conscience. The angel Hope takes the place of grim despair, and we go to the Word, and from it learn to prophesy as the Lord has commanded. The effects which follow this sacred prophesying are portrayed. First, "there was a noise, and then a shaking." The noise represents the agitation which takes place in the thoughts of the newly awakened convert, the shaking is the tremor and change experienced in the affections. The noise induced as the first effect by the prophesying of the prophet, brings vividly to mind the conflicting thoughts which fill the council chamber of the soul, when making its first efforts for a new life. Hope and fear both utter their voices. Accusations and defences, encouragements and blame, oppose each other; a complete tumult of contending sentiments clash together; the subject in debate is, Shall we arise and live for heaven, or shall we lie down and die forever? The noise was followed by a shaking. When the soul has determined to follow the truth, and employ its Divine light to explore the affections, a discovery of their impure character takes place. We tremble, and we determine to renounce our self-will, and all its impurities. We tremble, but we look up to Him who has said, "I give you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and nothing shall by any means hurt you." This is a shaking which is most salutary, and breaks the bonds which have held us in spiritual captivity to the earth and sin. The truth has made us free. The next operation is thus described. "The bones came together, bone to his bone." The soul has become earnest. It is seen that there is a beautiful harmony and order in religious truths. Each has its proper place, and takes it; they come together, bone to his bone. There are doctrines in relation to the Lord, these form the head of the religious system; there are doctrines in relation to the neighbour, these are the breast; there are doctrines in relation to the active uses of love and faith in the world, these are the arms and hands; and there are doctrines for the duties of everyday life, these are the legs and the feet. To perceive all these in harmony, and to have thus an entire and complete religious system, is of the highest importance to our best interests. The accomplishment of this is intimated by the significant words, "The bones came together, bone to his bone." The prophet describes further, "and beheld that the sinews and the flesh came up upon them." The word rendered sinews would be more correct if translated nerves. We have noticed that the moving and arrangement of the bones represent the formation of a correct and complete religious system in the soul. But system is hard and stem, as an unclothed skeleton, unless accompanied and softened by the presence of heavenly goodness. This goodness is represented by flesh, which is at once soft and solid. In the form of muscles it is the grand source of energy and power in the body. Flesh, throughout the Word, is the symbol of goodness, which imparts at once fulness and softness to our spiritual states. The flesh, then, that came upon the bones in the view of the prophet, represented the goodness which is imparted to the soul as it advances in its heavenly career, and seeks not only to know and believe, but to love and do what the Divine commandments teach. With earnest desires it presses on to attain the heavenly life, and thankfully feels that it is becoming stronger for good, warmer in the course it daily pursues. The prophet next observed that, after the preceding changes, he saw skin appear, to surround and beautify the whole. The functions of the skin are three fold. It clothes, it feels, it purifies. It is the seat of sensation and touch. Feeling, in relation to all the ever-occurring particulars of momentary life, is expressed in the skin. Without this presence of life in the extremes we should both do and suffer much that would be utterly detrimental to health and life. Secondly, the skin is a means of absorbing light, moisture, and other grateful elements from the surrounding objects, which are eminently useful to the preservation and beauty of the body. Thirdly, the skin is the grand instrument by which the waste material, which had formed part of the body, is carried off invisibly, and the body's renewal and progression are secured. I dwell upon the importance of the skin, to illustrate what is equally important in a spiritual point of view, that is, a consistent Christian life, for our outward life of virtue is the skin of the Christian character. This consists of faith and love, like minute blood vessels and nerves, living in all the daily acts, the words and works of life. A just, kind, beautiful life is the expression of the soul's highest emotions and sentiments — the skin unveiling the principles within. While, then, you look well to love and faith, the heart and the lungs of religion, do not forget those works of justice, piety, and gentleness which make the Christian skin. On the contrary, go often and hold communion with the Lord, that you may become radiant with holiness, like the skin of the face of Moses, when he had talked with God. Our text adds, respecting these bodies preparing for life, "there was yet no breath in them." Breath, or spirit, signifies conscious spiritual life. As we learn, think, and act in accordance with the Divine commands, new principles of virtue and order are formed within us. We grow in grace, we acquire a new nature; but for a considerable time we have no inner consciousness of living a spiritual life. To bring out our freedom, to regenerate us as men, and to make us more completely men, we are left for a considerable time to the comparatively slow growth of rational thought, consistent obedience, and constant effort, as if from ourselves, to draw nigh to the Lord, and to win His kingdom. The time, however, comes when we feel the presence and the power of heavenly life. "Come from the four winds (the Divine Mercy says), and breathe upon these slain." We find the energies of a new state diffusing themselves with vigour and delight through our whole being, and we stand up as a portion of the Lord's grand army.

(J. Bailey, Ph. D.)

Let the world be surveyed by one who knows and feels that men are destined for eternity, and what aspect will it wear if not that of the valley of vision, through which the prophet Ezekiel was commissioned to pass? On all sides are the remains of mighty beings, born for immortality, but dislocated by sin. Can these be men, creatures fashioned after the image of God, and constructed to share His eternity? What disease hath been here, eating away the spiritual sinew, and consuming the spiritual substance, so that the race which walked gloriously erect in the free light of heaven, and could hold communion with angels, hath wasted down into moral skeletons, yea, disjointed fragments, from which we may just guess its origin, whilst they publish its ruin? It is not that men are the spectres, the ghosts, of what they were, as made in the likeness of God, and with powers for intercourse with what is loftiest in the universe. They have gone beyond this. It is in their spiritual and deathless part that they have become material and lifeless: it is the soul from which the breath of heaven has been taken: and the soul, deprived of this breath, seemed turned into a thing of earth, as though compounded, like the body, of dust; and dwindled away till its fibres were shrivelled and snapped, and its powers lay scattered and enervated, like bones where the war has raged and the winds have swept. If we had nothing to judge by but the apparent probability, so little ground would there be for expecting the resurrection of these souls, and their re-endowment with the departed vitality, that if, after wandering to and fro through the valley, and mourning over the ruins of what had been created magnificent and enduring, there should come to us, as to the prophet, the voice of the Almighty, "Son of man, can these bones live?" our answer could be only the meek confession of ignorance, "O Lord God, Thou knowest." But we go on to observe that the parable is not more accurate, as delineating our condition by nature, than as exhibiting the possibility of a restoration to life. It cometh frequently to pass, mere frequently, it may be, than shall be known till all secrets are laid bare at the great day of judgment, that, when the minister of Christ is launching the thunders of the Word, or dilating, with all persuasiveness, on the provision which has been made for the repentant, a sound is heard, if not by men, yet by the attendant angels who throng our sanctuaries; the sound of an agitated spirit, moving in its grave clothes, as though the cold relics were mysteriously perturbed. The prophesying goes on in the valley of vision; and there is a shaking amongst the bones, as close appeals are made to the long torpid conscience, and the motives of an after state of being are brought to bear upon those who are dead in their sins. And then may it be said that bone cometh unto bone — the different faculties of the soul, which have heretofore been disjointed and dispersed, combining into one resolve and effort to repent, and forsake sin — and that sinews and flesh knit together, and clothe the bones, the various powers of the inner man being each roused to its due work; so that, as there appeared before the prophet the complete human body in exchange for the broken skeleton, we have now a spirit stung with the consciousness of its immortality, where we had before the undying without sign of animation. But this is not enough. There may be conviction of sin, and a sense of the necessity that some great endeavour be made to secure its forgiveness; and thus may the soul, no longer resolved into inefficient fragments, be bound together as the heir of eternity; yet there may not be spiritual life, for the soul may not have been quickened with the breath which is from heaven. Accordingly, the parable does not end with the formation of the perfect body, figurative as that was of the reconstruction of the soul into a being aware of its immortality; it proceeds to the animating the body, and thus to the representing the quickening of the soul. The prophet is commanded to prophesy unto the wind, and then breath comes into the bodies which he had seen succeed the scattered bones. This part of the parable is expressly interpreted as denoting the entrance of God's Spirit into the house of Israel, that they might live; and we therefore learn the important truth that, whatever the advances which may be made towards the symmetry and features of a new creature, there is nothing that can be called life, until the Holy Ghost come and breathe upon the slain. And we have to bless God that, in this part also, the vision is continually receiving its accomplishment, It is the special office of the Holy Ghost to open the graves in which sinners lie, and to animate the moral corpse, so that the dead are "born again." There would be no use in our prophesying upon the bones, if there were not this Divine agent to revivify the buried: we might indeed go down into the sepulchres, and gather together the mouldering remains of humanity, and compound them into a body, and then, as by the strange power of electricity, work the limbs into a brief and fearful imitation of the living thing: but the active and persevering wrestler for the prizes of eternity, oh! the Spirit of God must be in every member of this creature, and in every nerve, and in every muscle; and let that Spirit only be taken from him, and presently would you observe a torpor creeping over his frame, and all the tokens of moral death succeeding to the fine play of the pulses of moral life. But there is one respect in which the vision, as thus interpreted, appears not to be thoroughly accomplished. We carry on our prophesying over the heaps of dry bones; and now and then there may be produced the effects of which we have spoken: a solitary sinner arises from his lethargy, and sets himself to the working out salvation. But what is there in any one district of the valley I nay, what is there in the combined districts of the valley, supposing that valley to include the whole earth, which answers to the starting up of an "exceeding great army"? In the valley which Ezekiel traversed, such was the result of his prophesying. What would be the parallel to this, if, at this moment and in this place, the parable were to be spiritually fulfilled? It would be, that, if there be still amongst you the tens, or the fifties, or the hundreds, of souls sepulchred in flesh, these tens, or these fifties, or these hundreds, would be roused by the announcement of wrath to come, and spring into consciousness that they have been born for eternity; so that, however at the commencement of our worshipping, the dry bones had been scattered profusely amongst us, at its clone the whole assembly would be one mass of life, and no individual would depart, as he came, "dead in trespasses and sins." It would be — we dare not expect so mighty a resuscitation, and yet days shall come when even nations shall be "born in a day," — that whatsoever is human within these walls would bear traces of a new creation, and man, woman, child, be "alive unto God" through Christ Jesus their Lord. And if the spiritual fulfilment were effected throughout the whole valley of vision, we should be living beneath the millennial dispensation, in that blessed season when all are to know the Lord "from the least to the greatest," and the knowledge of His glory is to fill the earth, "as the waters cover the sea." When commensurate with the marvellous quickening of the dead on which Ezekiel gazed: the spiritual sepulchres will be emptied, and the almost quenched immortality be everywhere reillumined.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

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