I have been meaning to do this for a while but for various reasons I have not either taken the time or had the time to do this. You might be wondering what this is at this point. When I am giving the message or sermon on Sunday mornings, their is usually more to say that I don’t get the chance to say. Whether this is because I try to say too much or because the Holy Spirit is helping narrow down what I am saying. But I have been finding in the past little while that I look back and feel that God wants me to say more and this is one way of adding this into the my growth but also to your growth.
This blog post is tied to the message that was given on Nov. 2nd 2014 at both Gordonville and Arthur. You can go to the sermon/message tab and find it and listen to it there.
The main Bible passage that we looked at was Ezekiel 37:1-14. You can follow the link and read the passage on Biblegateway.com. I am not going to give you the whole sermon here but I will highlight some of the points and then go from there.
One is that God is inviting us into His faithfulness.
God invites Ezekiel to serve Him and to share God’s faithfulness with God’s people. God also calls Ezekiel to be faithful even though at times it is dangerous, strange, uncomfortable and does not always make sense at first. It is easy to be faithful when it is stuff that we like to do but it is harder to be faithful when it takes us to another level of our awareness and trust of God’s faithfulness.
God tells Ezekiel to preach to the dried bones
This is another invitation to share in the ministry and mission of God. In this occurrence, God takes Ezekiel to a valley of dried bones. People who had been dead for a long time. As we read through this passage we see that the message that God gives Ezekiel to preach brings these bones back to life.
This is where I would like to start expanding on the sermon. Note that this is not a burial ground, because the bones are laying on top of the ground, this is possibly a battleground where the dead have not been taken care of properly, possibly because there wasn’t time or the people to care for the dead. This in itself is a sign of the sinfulness of the people that Ezekiel is going to be speaking to. To not care for the dead was either a sign of the sinfulness of the people who are dead or of the people who did not care for the dead. One thing is clear is that these are human bones that have been there for a while.
There is the belief that this is not an actual resurrection but a spiritual renewal or revival, I personally think that God is speaking to both and in reality it needs to be both.
First off, if we look towards the end of the chapter God is talking about these dried bones who now have a new life being returned to the promise of God, the land and this also means a relationship with God. In our day and age, I think there is a common belief that you are closer to God when you are dead than when you are alive, at least there is a hope. However, at the time of Ezekiel it is questionable what the idea of an afterlife was. When we follow the Promise of God which is manifest in the giving of the Land, and reciprocated in the worship of God, it flows through the living. Also it is important to note that our idea of the separation of the body and the soul, is a later idea coming more from Plato than early hebrew. In hebrew thought the body and soul while different where equally together. Therefore when you died you were outside of the promise of God. Even if we are talking about being Spiritually dead, you can talk the talk but do you really believe what you are saying, is your life more alive because of your faith in the giver of life or are you just going through the motions and wanting to put on a good show for people, but you are spiritually empty inside.
Here’s why this passage is so powerful
God tells Ezekiel to tell these bones, these people to live, not just to stay the way that they are, not to be forsaken but to live. Not just to go back to the way things were, but to enter a new into the promise of God, not to be dead outside of the promise.
This act reminds us of the book of Genesis where God forms Adam and Eve. Again it is the word of God having life giving power, to create and recreate. It also reaffirms that God has power over death, not death having power over God. This brings us back to Jesus’ resurrection. In both instances, God is acting for the good of His people. He has not left them out to be forgotten or lost but God acts to bring His people back into relationship with Himself.
The life of a prophet and for this instance the life of Ezekiel was filled with speaking God’s words of life to God’s people. We see clearly hear how powerful God’s words are, the bones come together, sinews are formed, muscle is formed and flesh covers them and breath enters them. Now we need to remember that breath, is many times synonymous with the life giving spirit of God, ruah. These are God’s people given new life out of their sinfulness. These are God’s people given a second chance to receive God’s promise and to live and thrive in it. God saves His people.
Also this is powerful because Ezekiel is invited to be part of this life transformation. While they are God’s words that Ezekiel speaks, Ezekiel is still willfully part of the transformation. Ezekiel is again trusting God, again speaking God’s message, and things are happening, lives are being changed. Now this would have been an encouragement for Ezekiel since many times when he had spoken God’s word, people laughed at him and they stayed the same. Not everyone wants to hear God’s word, but that is not our problem. We can not change people’s hearts, but we can be faithful to deliver the message. And hopefully we will get to see dried bones come alive to the live in the promise of God.