I’ve been gutting my way through the book of Ezekiel. It’s not an easy read, but then it wasn’t easy being a prophet, either. Ezekiel, the poor guy, had to pronounce judgement on place after place: Egypt, Sidon, Moab, Tyre, Edom, Babylon, Jerusalem, Ammon, Philistia, Gog. He had to relay searing messages from God to Israel’s leaders and priests, to false prophets and idolaters, to those in his own hometown. Whew! That’s a lot of bad news.
Finally, this morning, the words flew off the page right to my heart. As I read in chapter 37, God gave Ezekiel a break from broadcasting words of woe and took him on a field trip to the bottom of a valley filled with very dry bones. God asked the prophet, “Can these bones live?” Ezekiel didn’t say yes, but he didn’t say no, either. He gave the best answer possible, “Lord, only You can answer that.”
I don’t know about you, but there have been times when I’ve felt like a pile of dried up old bones laying on a valley floor. My prayers are dry, my devotions are dry — it’s that sense of being shriveled and empty and lifeless. Usually, something eventually breaks through and brings me back to life, although I once spent a two year stint in the desert of dryness. No fun.
God told Ezekiel what to say to that ditch full of skeletons and before the prophet got all the words out of his mouth, a rattling sound echoed from one end of the valley to the other. The bones came together (the foot bone connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone connected to the shin bone…) and then tendons and flesh appeared (can you imagine seeing that?) and then God breathed His breath into the bodies and they all stood up (what a riveting picture!). “I will put breath in you, and you will come to life.” Ezekiel 37:6
During that long dry season I experienced, the words to a song by Michael W. Smith became my anthem:
“So breath in me, I need You now; I’ve never felt so dead within.
So breath in me, maybe somehow, You can breath new life in me again.”
So Ezekiel, can these dry bones live? Yes, indeed, they can.