(An Extract of the Presidential Address of the 2nd Session of the 11th Synod delivered by the Rt Revd Dr. James Olusola Idedeji on Friday, May 20, 2022 held at Archbishop Vining Memorial Church Cathedral, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos)
(AN EXPOSITION ON THE THEME)
“And he said to me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, you know.” (Ezek. 37:3)
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3. He asked me, "Son of man, can these bones live? “I said, "O Sovereign Lord, you alone know." 4. Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5. This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.'"7.So, I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them, and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. 9. Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.'" 10.So, I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet — a vast army. (NIV)
Symbolically, this vision is about the resurrection of Israel as a nation. The dry and disconnected bones represent how God’s people had been defeated, divided and scattered in exile. Only God can reconnect their bones, unite them and bring them back together as a country. Among other things, this was a vision about the future restoration of the people of Israel to their land at a time when they were in captivity in Babylon, as God's punishment for their sins, and had lost all hope of ever returning to their homeland. The multiple meanings of this vision include a depiction of the resurrection of the dead as well as the restoration of the house of Israel.
Ezekiel has told the people the Lord's promise to restore the land and regenerate His people, but what about the nation itself, a nation divided (Israel and Judah) and without a king or a temple? The remnant would return to the ravaged land and rebuild the temple and the city, but none of the blessings Ezekiel promised would come to them at that time. No, the Prophet Ezekiel was looking far down the corridor of time to the end of the age when Jesus the Messiah would return and claim His people. Ezekiel told the people that the dead nation would one day be raised to life, and the divided nation would be united.
In the vision, God took Ezekiel to a valley full of a large number of dry human bones. God asked Ezekiel whether the bones could live. Ezekiel responded, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” (Ezekiel 37:3). Then God told Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones and say to them that God would make breath enter them and they will come to life; that God would attach tendons to them and make flesh come upon them and cover them with skin; that God would put breath in them and they would come to life; and that they would know that God is the Lord, (Ezekiel 37-1-6).Ezekiel prophesied, the bones came together, tendons and flesh appeared, skin covered them, breath entered them, and they came to life and stood up on their feet as a vast army. Then the Lord told Ezekiel that the bones were the whole house of Israel who had said that their bones were dried up and their hope was gone, and they were cut off. God also said that he was going to open their graves and bring them up from them and put His Spirit in them for them to live and bring them back to the land of Israel so that they would know that he, the Lord, had spoken and done it (Ezekiel 37:1-14).
There is no better picture of sadness and hopelessness than what the Prophet Ezekiel saw at the beginning of the vision about the people of Israel in the valley of dry bones. There were substantial number of very dry bones, stripped of any signs of life, and scattered hopelessly on the floor of the valley. The sight of the one-time mighty Israeli people and fighting force, the darling of the Almighty God, reduced in a vision to scattered dry bones on the floor of the valley, could not have been more pitiful. When God tested Ezekiel with a question of whether the dry bones could live, Ezekiel answered that only God alone knew.
That was a wise answer. Indeed, only God alone knows. Only God alone knows whether dry bones shall rise again in Nigeria in our time. Only God alone knows the extent, scope and timing of the end of our multifarious and multidimensional problems globally, as a nation and as individuals, vis-a-vis; fight against the Coronavirus / COVID-19, terrorism, corruption, insecurity, poverty, kidnappings, marital challenge, barrenness, diseases, moral decay, etc.
The book of Ezekiel was written by the prophet bearing the same name, which means “God will strengthen”. He was the son of Buzi and served as a priest during the period of the Babylonian exile. In 598 BCE, the Babylonian army captured the city of Jerusalem and led most of its educated and gifted citizens into exile (2 Kings 24:1-7). This is the time that Ezekiel lived (as well as Jeremiah and Daniel), and the time when the Jewish people saw themselves as ‘dead bones’. Though they did return after a seventy-year exile, they were not self-ruled from an independent Jerusalem. Rather they were provinces dominated within the successive Persian, Greek and Roman Empires. In 586 BCE, after Jerusalem had rebelled again, the Babylonians razed Jerusalem and its temple and deported a second wave of citizens. Ezekiel was one of the people exiled to Babylonia at this time. Later, God called Ezekiel to be a prophet, prophesying both doom for the city of Jerusalem and hope for the Israelites. Ezekiel was a contemporary of Jeremiah, who was living and prophesying in Jerusalem while Ezekiel was living and prophesying in Babylonia. Ezekiel continued his prophetic ministry for approximately thirty years, until well after the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. Ezekiel had to face the real crisis in ancient Israel’s history. He witnessed the final destruction of Judah and its capital, Jerusalem; the loss of independence in the promised land, exile of all the leading citizens to Babylonia; and the tearing down of the temple and removal of the House of David from kingship (2 Kings 25; Jeremiah 39-41, 52; Lamentations 1-5; 2 Chronicles 36).
The picture portrayed here was that of the nation of Israel in their Eastern captivity and Diaspora. The nation was virtually dead. It was lifeless and scattered. There was no way humanly possible that they would ever arise from this defeat. It would be impossible. The exile was more than just a crisis of physical suffering and communal identity, it also necessitated a crisis of faith. For those deportees forced to live in Babylon, the future seemed a black hole into which the people were destined to disappear. They were like dry bones: a dead nation, full of absolutely no signs of life or recovery. It would take an absolute miracle for them to rebuild. Ezekiel was therefore speaking primarily to his fellow captives among the children of Israel in his prophecy. It looked as if their national identity were forever gone, and they would never again return to their Promised Land. Hence, one purpose of this vision was to inspire them with hope that God would someday revive them as a nation.
It is important to note that Ezekiel’s message is that of a prophet delivering a message from God to the exiles and therefore treating the passage as a series of divine commands and human obedience creates a parallel between Ezekiel’s historical role and purpose in writing, and the text itself. Ezekiel 37:1-14, can be divided and grouped into three parts, two of which are completed in the passage itself, and an exposition and conclusion. These are seen in the rendering of the scene in verses 1-3. Each subsequent rendering consists of an instruction and response. The first instruction takes place in verses 4-6. This is indicated by the word “then”. The response and indicator of such begins with “so” in verse seven and is completed in verse 8. The next rendering begins with “then” in verse 9 and is then completed with the response indicated again by “so” in verse ten. These narratives and renderings and their meanings are revealed in verse 11 before a conclusion and final instruction, indicated as different by the word “therefore”, are given in verses 12-14. The place where the vision takes place is a valley whose location is not given. The presence of a definite article in “the valley” gives the sense of specificity about the valley and therefore it could refer to the valley already mentioned in 3:22.
Ezekiel begins his account with these words: “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” (Ezekiel 37:1). This is like the introductory style for a vision account. We have four vision accounts in the book of Ezekiel (1:1-3:15; 8-11; 37:1-14; 40-48) and they are introduced by “the hand of the Lord”. The vision opens with a distinguishable marker, “the hand of God was upon me”. We find two parallel phrases “the hand of God” and “the Spirit of God” in verse 1. The latter appears only twice in the book of Ezekiel (11:5; 37:1) within the context of an imminent prophecy. The word “hand” also means power, portion. In the Old Testament, the metaphor “the hand of God” is used to portray God’s power either in a sense of judgment or redemption.
However, in the context of the text before us, it is exclusively used to introduce a vision which has the sense of redemption and restoration of the people who are in the dejection of Babylonian exile. The expressions “the hand of God” and the “Spirit of God” clearly manifest the powerful intervention of God as well as the mediation of the Spirit in the transportation of the prophet into the valley of dry bones. The word “Spirit” used in the phrase “the Lord’s spirit” (Ezek. 37:1) is related to the word “breath” that is used in verses 5, 6, 8, and the word “wind” that is used in verse 9. The possible meanings that we can have from the passage are Spirit, breath and wind. The reason is that these words are translations of one Hebrew term “ruah”, and this word is used to define and explains that the Holy Spirit gives life. The words “Spirit” in verses 1, 14; “breath” in verses 5, 6, 8, 9, 10;“wind” in verse 9 all refer to one Hebrew term “Spirit”. The other meanings of the word are related to the definition of the human’s immortal part such as a soul. Consequently, the word “Spirit” can usually be used as a synonym to the word “soul” in the Biblical texts. The Hebrew word rúaÄ§, which means breath, wind, or spirit, is repeated a total of ten times in verse 1-14. This divine rúaÄ§ is also found in Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being”. The reviving process of the dry bones as well in the creation account of man, there is the element of “breath,” but the words used to denote the noun “breath” are not the same.
In the context of Ezekiel’s message, the word “Spirit” is related to God’s “breath” and “wind” which indicates an invisible breath that can give life to everyone. In the context of Ezekiel 37, the connection of “spirit” and “breath” is more obvious because winds in the desert are often hot and destructing in contrast to the Spirit that can breathe life into dry bones, and the word “winds” are used in the text to denote the sides of the world (Ezek. 37:9). The “ru’ah” of God, the Spirit, breath, wind is what carried Ezekiel to the valley in his vision, and it is also what was put into the people’s essence that they might rise and live again, no longer slain in a battle, but an exceedingly great army. The passage works through the living tradition of ru’ah, God’s wind/spirit, coming through where there is chaos and bringing order. The ru’ah that hovered over the waters in Genesis, the ru’ah that split the sea for the escape from Egypt is the same ru’ah that brings new life to the dry bones now. The ru’ah of God would restore them, and Yahweh Himself would be more than sufficient. This is the promise of Ezekiel chapter 37.
The prophet is addressed as “son of man” at three instances in this vision. The first was in verse 3 where the question is asked regarding the possibility of life for the bones. To materialize the possibility of life for the bones, the prophet is commanded to prophesy to the breath in verse 9 where he is addressed for a second time as “son of man”. Equally in verse 11, the prophet is addressed as “son of man” where God confirms that the bones were the whole house of Israel. Different interpretations could be given for “son of man”. It shows that the prophet sees himself as an ordinary man, with no special privileges, even though he is God’s spokesman. It also shows the solidarity of the prophet with the rest of his people. He therefore considers himself as another member of the Israelite community which God is addressing through him.
Ezekiel describes the state of the bones that he saw in the valley as very dry (37:2), presenting the picture of ‘total death’. Exposed bones indicate curse and desecration as scattering an enemy’s bones or leaving them unburied was common in the ancient Near East. The descriptive Hebrew particle adverb used here is ‘exceedingly’, used to express the intensity of a highest degree, with translation variance as very, completely dry. Such an adverbial word usually stands mostly with nouns to describe the status or condition of the object of association. In this case, it is the dry bones in the valley. The rhetoric question of God to the prophet “can these bones live?” and the prophet’s response in verse 3, “Lord God, you know” is significant. The prophet’s response indicates a sign of helplessness or indifference. The same verb, “know” however as used in verses 6, 13 and 14 indicates the assurance about the power of God. The word “prophesy” is used four times in the text to which aims to proclaim God’s word and declare His messages. The word as used here is in its imperative form. When the verb is used in its imperative form, as it is in verses 4, 9, 12, it is appropriate to interpret the words as God’s commands. Thus, Ezekiel is here commanded by God to proclaim His Word and declare His will while allowing the divine breath to make the dry bones live. Ezekiel was obliged by the divine command to prophesy the spirit of life to the dry bones (vs. 4). The series of imperative perfects that govern ‘breath’, ‘tendons’, ‘flesh’ and ‘skin’ (vs. 5–6) is an indication that the power to resuscitate the dry bones is within the purview of divine authority, not that of humans. The order followed in the reconstitution of the body as mentioned in vs.6 (sinews-flesh-skin) is described based on a certain anatomical knowledge and suggests the prophet’s experience as a priest dissecting sacrificial animals. Both Ezekiel and his fellow exiles were incapable, but God was very capable to resurrect them both physically and spiritually.
Ezekiel’s obedience to God’s directive to prophesy to the dry bones (vs. 4, 7), immediately following with the divine explanation in advance of what the effects of the action would be (vs. 5–6), resulted in the resuscitation of the bodies now lying lifeless and motionless in bodily form. The prophet proclaims God’s messages and His word. “To prophesy” also means “to predict”; however, in the context of Ezekiel’s message, “to prophesy” means ‘to proclaim God’s will’. The double occurrences of the words “prophesy” and the “breath” in verse 9 indicates a sense of urgency. The breath is commanded to come from four winds. The number “four” accompanying “winds” has a meaning of encompassing all directions. Hence, the expression “four winds” indicates breath coming from all directions. Following Ezekiel’s declaration, the bones became skeletons, and tendons and flesh were put on the exceedingly dry bones, and skin covered them, yet they were still lifeless corpses (vs. 7–8). Hence, in the second phase of the resurrection, this imagery conveys an embedded resuscitative theological element (vs. 9–10) which flows from the theological stream of resurrection.
There are three clauses in the lament of the people; “our bones are dried up”, “our hope is lost”, “we ourselves are cut off. And they are responded with three divine statements of consolation or restoration in verse 12: “I am going to open your graves”, “I will cause you to come up from your graves”, “I will bring you into the land of Israel”. The expression “our bones are dry” in verse 11 could mean that the exilic jeopardy has totally ruined the vigour and vitality of the people, and they see themselves doomed. The expression “we have been cut off” may suggest that exiled Judeans, like the dead, are no longer the beneficiaries of God’s covenant loyalty that they cannot hope in his faithfulness, and they are forgotten by God and are unable to worship him. They will never return to their land. As a response to this lament, prophet is asked to prophesy to the people in verse 12. Being convinced of the power of God to do mighty acts during the vision account of dry bones, the prophet, as commanded, prophesies to the people addressing the rest of the clauses in their lament in verses 12-14. The same verb “bring” is used in verses 12,13 and Exo. 3:8,17 to convey the meaning of “coming out from the graves/land of Egypt, respectively. The statement:“You shall know that I am the Lord,” appears in verses 6,13, 14, is usually used to close an oracle or introduced in connection with some divine revelation. This statement is an abbreviation of the wordings used in Deuteronomic texts to introduce the Covenant: “I am the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exo. 20:2).
The term “covenant” is often used to describe the transactions between men as well as between God and a man in terms of a testament. In covenants, people need to refer to certain conditions to receive the determined advantages. However, when the covenant is made between God and a man, the main focus is on God’s promise and the man’s obedience, as it is in the text. “A covenant of peace” for the people of Israel is based on God’s promise to guarantee peace and protection and on the man’s faith and obedience to God’s will (Ezek. 37:26). As a result, the covenant subsists only when the people of Israel are obedient and trust their God.Neither the prophet nor the readers seem to have understood the meaning of this vision until God himself gives its interpretation in verse 11: “These bones are the whole house of Israel”. The occasion for the vision is the hopeless despair of the exiles mentioned in verse 11. It is translated as “These bones are the whole house of Israel” and not as “these are the bones of the whole house of Israel”. “Bones”, as indicated here, is a noun in absolute state, not a noun in construct state. Therefore, it must be considered as an allegorical vision in which the whole house of Israel is compared to the bones, and not as the bones belonging (sense - possessive) to the whole house of Israel. Again, when we re-read verse 4 based on the interpretation given in verse 11, we come to observe that the dry bones are personified, and they represent the exiles. The bones that came together in verse 7 presupposes that they were scattered, and they represent the scattered people of God because of the Babylonian exile.
The Prophetic Description of the Condition of the Bones and Resurrection as a
Metaphor for Israel’s Return.
The visionary dramatic display recounted by Ezekiel took place in a valley. It was a lifeless environment, likely an ancient battlefield filled with bones of the slain that had been lying there for years. Importantly, the function of situating Ezekiel in the center, was for him to have a full view of all the bones and their state of absolute dryness. Ezekiel describes the state of the bones that he saw in the valley as very dry (vs. 37:2). The condition of God’s covenant people captured in the imagery of bones is described as very dry, so dry, and completely dry. The bones had been dried out exceedingly and lying waste in their lifeless state in the valley. This metaphor of dry bones is captured by the exiles’ intense expression: “…Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off” (37:11b).
In Ezekiel 37:5, God says, “Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live”. Bones are always associated with death, yet the Bible tells one story in which bones were a source of life. In 2 Kings 13:20-21 we find that Elisha the prophet, who was filled with a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, was so Spirit-filled that his bones radiated life even after he was dead. The Bible says that after Elisha died and was buried, some men in Israel were performing a funeral ceremony for one of their friends. As they were carrying his remains out to bury him, they caught a glimpse of Moabite raiders on horseback. These land pirates had been ransacking the countryside, and the Israelite men knew that they needed to get out of there fast or they would be the next victims. They had to run for their lives. So, the Bible says that the man’s corpse was thrown into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet. As a church, God can revive us and make us an army that will be part of His end-time remnant. Ezekiel 37:12-14 tells us that God’s people will be raised up and brought into the Promised Land. There will be a resurrection of the righteous someday soon, and we will live in that new earth in the New Jerusalem. But even before that, the Lord wants to raise up an army of Spirit-filled people who will expand His kingdom.
The phrase “cut off” as used in Ezekiel 37:11 is to indicate the separation, detachment, alienation, and expulsion of the Jews from their land of ancestry. It is this hopeless condition following the demise of Jerusalem that prompted Ezekiel to use this imagery as a means of comfort for the exiles, offering hope of their restoration. Israel’s exilic condition was hopeless and irreparable. The people had lost the priesthood and its rituals; the monarchy and its respect; the temple and its glory; Zion, the city of David/Yahweh and its integrity; Yahweh’s presence and glory; their ancestral land; and their pride as a people. The expression of the exiles: “Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off” (Ezek.37:11b NIV) clearly expresses this hopeless condition. The vision of the valley of dry bones was a metaphor for Israel’s return from captivity (37:11-14). God identified the bones as “the whole house of Israel.” And He knew Israel had lost hope, “Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off’” (37:11). This vision therefore symbolized the whole house of Israel that was then in captivity. Like unburied skeletons, the people were in a state of living death. Israel only discovered in exile that apart from God, she had no essence, purpose, identity, and existence. Only God could save exiled Israel from her despondent state of existence; for the nation was incapable of self-deliverance. Similarly, God alone could dig captives out of their graves and return them to their land of ancestry; a land hitherto dispossessed by their enemies; but God promised to raise Israel from their graves (37:12-14). There are four promises here:
God’s promise in Ezekiel 37 was primarily to bring Israel out of captivity and back into the Promised Land. The resurrection of the dead bones to life was a metaphor for this (Ezra 1:1-4; 2 Chronicles 35:22-23). Ezekiel was taken to the valley of dry bones by the Spirit of God. God delivered the Israelites from the cruelty of Pharaoh and brought them to the Promised Land. Soon after they settled in the Promised Land, they forgot the God that saved them from bondage and started serving other gods. Nebuchadnezzar and his army carried them again into captivity. Nonetheless, God gave Ezekiel a vision of many dry bones in the valley. God then asked Ezekiel if the dry bones could live. Because of the hopelessness of the situation, Ezekiel said only God knew if they would live. In Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones brought back to life by God’s Spirit, the resurrection of the bones is used as a symbol. Ezekiel’s vision is not related to life after death, but with the salvation of God’s people from captivity and exile. Accordingly, Israel was deep into captivity and there was no way they could get out of the Babylonian captivity outside God’s help. Among other things, this was a vision about the future restoration of the people of Israel to their land at a time when they were in captivity in Babylon, as God's punishment for their sins, and had lost all hope of ever returning to their homeland. However, there is more going on in Ezekiel 37.
God took Ezekiel to a valley full of dry bones and directed him to speak to the bones. Ezekiel was to tell the bones that God would make breath enter the bones and they would come to life, just as in the creation of man when He breathed life into Adam (Genesis 2:7). Ezekiel obeyed, the bones came together, flesh developed, skin covered the flesh, breath entered the bodies, and they stood up in a vast army. The Israelites thought their hope was gone and they were cut off forever. The surviving Israelites felt their national hopes had been dashed and the nation had died in the flames of Babylon’s attack with no hope of resurrection. The reviving of the dry bones signified God’s plan for Israel’s future national restoration. The vision also, and most importantly, showed that Israel’s new life depended on God’s power and not the circumstances of the people. Putting “breath” by God’s Spirit into the bones showed that God would not only restore them physically but also spiritually.
The Israelites residing in the Holy Land today are not the fulfillment of this prophecy. It will be fulfilled when God re-gathers believing Israelites to the land (Jeremiah 31:33; 33:14–16) and Christ returns to establish His Millennial Kingdom (Matthew 24:30–31). God announced, through the prophet, that Israel will be restored to her land in blessing under the leadership of “David, My servant who shall be king over them” (Ezekiel 37:24), clearly a reference to the future under Jesus Christ the Messiah, descendant of David (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6–7; Luke 1:31–33). However, this promise seemed impossible considering Israel’s present condition. She was “dead” as a nation, deprived of her land, her king, and her temple. She had been divided and dispersed for so long that unification and restoration seemed impossible. So, God gave Ezekiel the vision of the dry bones as sign. Only God could save exiled Israel from her despondent state of existence; for she was incapable of self-deliverance. Then, it was God who directed both the events of the Assyrian and the Babylonian exiles as his punitive agents towards whoring Israel, to call her back to himself. Similarly, God himself alone could dig captives out of their grave and return them to their land of ancestry; a land hitherto dispossessed by their enemies.
The main purpose of the vision was the restoration of Israel. However, the resurrection of the human beings was not totally a new idea. We have examples in I Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:18 -37; 13:20-21 where both Elijah and Elisha had been involved in the resurrection of individuals who had died. However, this vision was important for the prophet as well as for the people to believe that the power of God could bring new life amid an intimidating situation of destruction and the “cut off” experience from all that they had. This was a message of hope which stresses the power of God who could replace the hopelessness of the death of the nation with new life and restoration. The impressive and inspiring message of national restoration conveyed rhetorically in this vision is aimed at sowing the seeds of hope among the exiles.
This vision is more than just a return to the land, as there was a spiritual component to the “life” of which God spoke. This is seen in how God promised to put His Spirit within His people- “And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live” (37:14). God promised to give His Spirit to cause Israel to be obedient to His law. Israel needed new hearts (regeneration), and this comes about by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit that caused Israel to be obedient to God’s law is the same Spirit that would bring Israel back into the Promised Land. Ezekiel 37 therefore is a presentation of a vivid oracle that is full of images to discuss the restoration of the people of Israel who will receive the protection of God based on their new covenant of peace. Here, Ezekiel declares the restoration of the land in preceding parts, proclaims the restoration of the people in Ezekiel 36 and 37, and points at the judgment of enemies in Ezekiel 38-39. Consequently, the surrounding chapters and verses help understand that Ezekiel 37 presents the metaphor of dry bones to accentuate the hopelessness of the people of Israel and to state that they will be protected and restored according to God’s will and divine powers.
From our text, Ezekiel 37:1-3, we vividly can see three characters in this conversation:
God will always be in our conversation especially as believers because we are created to live for God. Our second part is that who the prophet is, is very vital, but our focus will be on the dry bones. The first mention of the bones was that they were in the valley. Valley can be tagged a place of abandonment, a place of no reckoning. This valley must have been a destination for such character(bones) because the bible says the valley was full of bones; that is there was little or no space in that valley for any other thing but bones. If God could make the prophet to go around the bones to assess them, which means those dry Bones could be studied and assessed. During the prophet’s assessment and study of the bones, the prophet arrived at the conclusion that the bones were very many and dry. One subtle lesson here is that we should learn to observe and study situations before conclusion or even before taking any decision about the situation. It was after this assessment that God and the prophet started attending to the situation of the dry bones.
The Significance of Ezekiel’s Vision to Christians today.
Dry bones, of course, signify a state of hopelessness and lifelessness. The dry bones were sitting quietly in their forgotten state, fully surrendered to the power of death that held them bound. They were without any hope until God told Ezekiel to prophesy to them. God made the dead bones rise to life, and He did this by giving to the bones His life-giving breath. Just like the Israelites, some people are locked up in a strange land, enjoying the pleasures of sin. Some are addicted to harmful behaviours; their return to their Creator can be likened to new life rising from the grave. Many are in bondage, captivity or held bound by satanic forces; many have been displaced from their positions; others have been told that they have reached a point of no return in life. There is no better picture of sadness and hopelessness than what the Prophet Ezekiel saw at the beginning of the vision about the people of Israel in the valley of dry bones. Only God can set the captives free and restoring them to their original states (1 John 3:8b).
Hope is not lost even after a man has died (Rom. 8:11). But when a dead man is buried, what do we say? All hope is lost. But with God, even Lazarus was raised back to life (John 11:1-44). “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Whatever is hopeless in your life will receive new life. When you look at your situation and all you can see is hopelessness, fear, and you are in a state of despondency, be assured that God is the God of restoration. It does not matter how much we have messed up or have fallen into sin. No situation is hopeless if God is involved. No matter how bad the situation is, God can still turn it around. With God, there is nothing like hopelessness, no matter how impossible a situation is or seems to be, our God can turn it around. God can turn your sadness to joy and your shame to fame.
Dry bones could refer to something that used to be precious, healthy, and strong. An example of a dry bone is Sarah. For many years, she trusted God for a child. By the time she was about 90 years, she had given up hope of ever becoming a mother. She had concluded she was a dry bone, hence she laughed when God said she would have a child (Gen. 18:12; Rom. 4:1-25). Abraham, who contrary to hope, in hope believed, became the father of many nations according to God’s promise (Rom. 4:18). Do you consider yourself a dry bone because age and time appear no longer in your favour concerning what you are expecting? The Lord who did it for Sarah will fulfill His promise and do it for you. Dry bones could also refer to dreams, ambitions, and aspirations that have been reduced to nothing (John 5:1-15). Have you abandoned your dream of becoming somebody great, or doing something outstanding for God's Kingdom? Do not give up and do not lose hope. It is time for such dreams to come alive. The Lord will resurrect your dead dreams. That lost idea is coming back. The zeal to accomplish important things for God will be on fire again. Your dry bones shall rise again.
Dry bones represent something or a situation that may have died. Dry bones may also represent something that used to be precious to us. For example, Sarah thought that she would never be able to bear children – a classic “dry bones” situation. We feel that we are not accomplishing what God has called to do, or that our finances are not where they should be, that our marriage is not where we want it to be, and so on. Dry bones may represent a death or a dying situation in our lives. Dry bones may represent so-called impossibilities in our life. Yet God states in Luke 1:37 For with God, nothing will be impossible. Matthew 19:26 – “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”As always, we have a part to play to see God manifest in our lives. To see dry bones come alive we must be mindful of our utterances. If we say something is impossible, then it will not be possible. If we say that we cannot do something, then we will not be able to do it. This is important because God’s first choice is always to engage us, as He works out our miracles. He wants us to “prophesy” the miracle NOT the challenge. In this example, God commanded Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones. The Bible tells us that whenever we declare a thing, then so shall it be.
God’s Word gives new direction and is a life-giver. It would appear absurd to address “dry bones”. Imagine Ezekiel standing in the middle of the battlefield among the corpses preaching to piles of bones. But God’s ways are not man’s ways (Isa. 55:8-9). The prophet speaks at God’s command. He speaks for God and they who listen hear the voice of God. When God’s Word goes forth, things begin to happen. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”. God’s word is life and effectual (John 6:33; 1Thess. 2:13). Psalms 119:105 also says “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”. We must therefore allow the word of God to take a central place in our lives. Whenever God speaks, the power to accomplish it is in the word He speaks, and He will do what He has spoken or promised. If we can therefore apply the word of God rightly and believe strongly in its potency, there will be undeniable results to show forth in our lives.
While Ezekiel was seeing dry bones, God was seeing an exceeding great army (Rom. 4:17). You may be seeing a problem now, but God is seeing a solution. You may be seeing barrenness, but God is seeing children surrounding your table. One of the devil’s oldest tricks is to make us feel all alone, weak, and powerless. In 2 Kings 6:15-17, Elisha’s servant saw the massive enemy army and wondered what to do other than fear. He thought it was over for him, Elisha, and all the children of God. Similarly, Elijah thought he was the only one left of God’s prophets (1 Kings 18:22) but God reassured him that He kept seven thousand prophets (1Kings 19:18). It is easy to feel abandoned and powerless, but we need the Lord to open our eyes as He did for Elisha and realize that “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). When Paul was abandoned from his colleagues, the Lord gave Paul a vision in Acts 18:9-10 that he was not alone. You may feel weak, alone, and powerless, surrounded by armies of problems. However, if you pray to the Lord, He will open your eyes, and speak to you like he did the many people who were in the same boat or worse in the past. You will come out strong. God will surely cause breath to enter your dry bones and they shall live.
It is possible for a problem to have existed for long time but there is always an expiry date in the calendar of God for such a problem because everything that has a beginning must have an end (Eccl. 7:8; Psa. 30:5; Hag. 2:9). Your illness may have lasted for a long time, yet it has an expiry date. In John 5:1-15, a man who had an infirmity for thirty-eight years was at the lake of Bethesda. He became so devastated that he lost hope of regaining his health. He lost focus in God and put faith in human beings. Even the angel who came to turn the water could not help because someone had to carry him into the water. Unknown to the man, the throne of grace had an expiry date to his problems. God who is rich in mercy saw his afflictions and heart cry. God saw his predicament and helplessness and sent intervention from the throne of grace and mercy to help him. Jesus understood the difficulties the man was facing. Jesus healed him because He came that we may have abundant life and every problem has an expiry date unknown to him as well as many. With God all things are possible. This assurance has never failed if you believe it. That unpleasant situation you are going through is temporal. The question then is, when do these things expire? The Bible says in Matthew 13:15, “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them”. It means that whatever issue you are going through expires at the sound of the revelation of God and His word. Therefore, we do not lose heart. “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17). Do not let your current situation make you bitter. Bitterness corrupts and defiles the heart (Hebrews 12:15). The experiences we go through help to strengthen our faith and allow us to help others.
There will be a restoration of all you have lost (1Kings 17:17-24; Joel 2:25). “When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, the Lord has done wonderful things for them. The Lord has done remarkable things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psa. 126:1-3). Very soon those who had written you off as dry bones shall follow you to Zion to celebrate your God. No matter how dry our bones have become, God can restore them all. Whenever we lose hope or despair when we watch the news, or worry about tomorrow, we can rest assured that God promises to restore all things, just as he had with the Israelite captives in Babylon. Just as Ezekiel prophesied upon the dry bones and life came back unto them, the Lord Jesus will turn your story around for glory. God can cause water tocome out of your dry land. Isa 61:7 says, “Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore, in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs”. For something to be restored, then it must have previously died or been destroyed or wasted away. The devil struck Job and he lost everything he had, all his wealth, fortunes, health, children and more. But Job as a man of faith and strong believer in the Lord, despite his misfortune yet he spoke rightly about God. Then God restored everything Job had lost twice as much as he had before. Job 42:10 says, “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends: also, the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before”. “For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease”. (Job 14:7). Jesus is the only One Who can restore everything back. He will not only restore it to the level it was, but He will restore your life to a level you never dreamed possible.
No spoken word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment. If God says something it will come to pass. God, Himself, stands over and watches over His own Word, making sure it is fulfilled (Jer. 1:12).When there is a divine attention, there must be a divine mandate and when there is a divine mandate, there must be a divine pronouncement and when there is pronouncement, there is a performance of divine commands (Heb. 4:12; Isa. 55:11). God’s Word accomplishes that which He pleases, and purposes and it prospers in the thing for which He sent it (Isa. 55:6-11). God is dependable and faithful to His Word.“So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word” (Hebrews 10:23). The Word of God is tested, tried and proven. As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a Shield to all who trust in Him (2 Samuel 22:31). God keeps His Word even if men do not keep theirs. God’s Word is true and will happen no matter what people do, say or believe.
God fulfills what he sets out to do. Not only does he provide for our physical needs (Matt. 6:11), God equally acknowledges we have a deep spiritual need that can only be fulfilled by him. We cannot breathe without the breath of life, and we cannot live without him living inside of us. God is committed to fulfilling His promises. Ten times God promises to do something about the dry bones in Ezekiel 37:
Those promises and reassurances are the path we walk in this valley. The Bible is a record of the absolute reliability of God’s promises to His people. Those promises have always proven trustworthy, so you can count on them. God keeps His promises. If you can believe God, you can count on His promises, because they are free gifts of His grace(Rom. 4:19-21). If you can focus on God’s unlimited power, then you can count on that power to fulfill God’s promises (2 Cor.1:20). The next time you feel anxious and overwhelmed, remember God’s promises and His reassurances (Psa. 23; Matt. 6:25-34).
Ezekiel’s vision was given as a lesson not only for a nation or for the church, but also for us as individuals. These dry bones represent people. 1 John 5:12 says, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life”. If a person does not have Jesus, his bones are dry. Spiritually speaking, such a person has no life. However, God’s Word and the living water of His Spirit will bring dry souls new life. Isaiah 44:3 says, “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants”. Ephesians 2:1a says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…” If sin still reigns in our lives, if we are still controlled by a life of sin, then we are spiritually dead. We are as good as dry bones. The hope in this prophecy is that God can revive dry bones.
In Numbers 13, after the children of Israel got to Kadesh-Barnea, they sent twelve spies into Canaan. Ten of the spies brought back an evil report from the Promised Land, and two brought back a good report. Ten of them said it is true that the land is flowing with milk and honey. They even displayed the giant bunches of grapes, pomegranates, and other fruits they had brought back from Canaan. They warned, “There are giants in the land, and in our eyes, we are as grasshoppers in their sight”. You always get and have in your life what you believe and speak. Each one of those ten spies got exactly what he said. Not one of them entered the Promised Land. They all wandered in the wilderness until they died. What they said came to pass. It was however different for Joshua and Caleb. Caleb said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it” (Num. 13:30). Joshua said, “Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them” (Num. 14:9). In other words, Joshua and Caleb simply confessed their expectation by saying our God is well able to deliver them into our hands and we are well able to overcome the giants and possess the land. At the mention of His name, every knee bows, including death, and we see from Ezekiel 37 that life came into the dead bones.
You may have things in your life that seem dead, all you can see is a valley of dry bones. It is not enough to just pray about it; you need to speak to it. It is time to stop describing your situation and start declaring your expectation. It is time to stop speaking or talking about your mountain and start speaking to your mountain. Jesus said in Mark 11: 23, “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, be taken up and thrown into the sea and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him”. He did not say, speak about the mountain, tell us how big it is; how insurmountable it seems; He says, speak to it. Never speak your condition, speak your conviction. The Word of God brings life (John 1:1; Phil. 2:16) It is the unchanging Word of God that will bring change to the world. The challenges you face are your opportunities to demonstrate your faith in the Lord and prove His Word. Instead of being overwhelmed in the hour of crisis, declare your victory in Christ Jesus. God’s Word created everything, and as such can create anything. Use faith-filled words to frame your world, and programme your spirit for victory over the challenges of life.
Israel as God’s Army
In Exodus 7:4, God declares: But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring Myarmies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.
The status of the people of God in Egypt as at this time can be related to as been abandoned like the dry bones in the valley but God still referred to them as “My armies”. God, out of His almightiness and wisdom chose to adopt Israel as both His Son and His army; Romans 9:4; Exodus 7:4. God was both Israel’s Father and Israel’s Commander in Chief.It is one thing to be a son to a father; it is another to be a weapon (an army) in the hands of your father as the commander in chief. There are many sons that never rose to become weapons of battle axes in the hands of their parents. Psalm 127:3-5 says, “Lo, children are a heritage of the LORD: And the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; So are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: They shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” Psalm 127:3-5 (KJV).
Through the above passage, four qualities differentiate a useful child from other children:
As Christians, God must be our priority. We can only be useful to Him when we make His concerns our priority.
Psalms 127:4 NKJV: Arrows are used as weapons to attack enemies. When a man rises to the state of being a weapon in God’s hands, God begins to use such a one to cause havoc in the enemy’s camp. It is saddening that most Christians today, instead of being arrows in God’s hands, they are spears in God’s heart. There is a need to look inwardly today. In what ways do we need to make amends? Are you sure you are not more of spears in the heart of God than arrows in his hands? It is worthy of note that, God Himself referred to Israel as His army. God’s thought about us is what matters. Many of us only seek men’s approval, we do not pursue after pleasing God. At the time Israel was imprisoned by the Egyptians, they were tortured and regarded as minority, but God referred to them as His own. When you are with God, you are in the majority. The question is whose are you? God’s or the devil’s? Who do you prefer to please? Men or God? Paul knew whose he was, he also knew who he served. Do you know who you are and who you serve? (Acts 27:23)
Jesus was scorned by men, beaten, spat upon, betrayed, denied, insulted and crucified, rejected by men, but in God’s hands, He was the weapon that brought about salvation. Job’s friends doubted him because of his afflictions, but he was an arrow in God’s hands. Child of God, it pays to be approved by God. One with God, as is popularly said, is majority. Let men insult you or hate you, “if God is for you, what can men do to you?” Most times we only care about our names in the physical realm; we have no regard about what we are being called in the realm of the Spirit. In the realm of the Spirit, Israel was referred to as “the armies” of God, but they were in chains in the physical realm. It always must start from the realm of the Spirit. Israel got delivered afterwards. But their deliverance will not have come if they had not secured a name in the realm of the spirit.
Many preachers, ministers today are not even known by God. “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Matthew 7:23 (NKJV). God is imploring us today to seek fellowship, relationship and intimacy with Him. It is relationship with God that births victory. Many preachers and ministers are under the yoke of the devil simply because their pursuit is channeled towards physical and earthly achievements, not spiritual ranking. Whatever happens in the physical or natural must first be settled in the realm of the spirit. Therefore, settle scores with God and see how He would fight your battles.
Characteristics of an Army
An army is an organized military force equipped for fighting on land. As Christians, we are the organized military force of God equipped to fight on earth. An army can also be referred to as a large number of people. An army is a group of soldiers. An army must have five essential characteristics, which are:
This is the ability to be relied on as being honest and truthful. It is the ability to keep promises, be honest, reliable and principled while never inappropriately betraying a confidence. Trustworthiness is the quality on which all relationships are built, including our relationship with God. 2Timothy 2:13 “If we believe not, yet he remains faithful: he cannot deny himself”. This passage explains that God’s trustworthiness is not dependent on us. If we decide not to be trust-worthy, God will remain trust-worthy because that is His nature.
Believers also are expected to be like Job; Job 13:15 “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him”. Job made a very dogged statement. He made up his mind to remain trust-worthy even if God in His almightiness decides to kill Him. How trust-worthy are we with the assignment God has put into our hands? Are we determined to always maintain our ways before Him? Jesus said, “The One who sent me is with me, He has not left me, because I always do what pleases Him”. How many of us can be bold enough to make this statement? God can never commit much into the hands of a man that is not trust-worthy.
According to the story of the unfaithful steward in Luke 16, we can be sure that only those that are faithful and trust-worthy in trivial things can be given more duties. Are you a faithful soldier? Are you part of God’s trust-worthy troops?
This is defined as the design, generation, support, and ethical application of land power, primarily in unified land operations, and all supporting capabilities essential to accomplish the Mission in defense of the country. For us Christians, to be a military expert, is to be a man that make war in the realm of the spirit. 2Corinthians 10:3-6 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled”.
To be a military expert in the kingdom of God, we must;
iii. We must be righteous. According to Ephesians 6:14b, we are advised as Christian soldiers to put on the breastplate of righteousness as a defensive shield against Satan’s attacks.
This is a feeling of pride and loyalty shared by members of the army.
Anyone that is ashamed of Christ cannot be called God’s soldier. As Christians, we must take Jesus everywhere. We must never be ashamed or scared to call Him Lord, even in the face of shame, scorning, or even in the face of death. A true soldier never denies his devotions. A true soldier is known by his consistent discipline. Soldiers remain soldiers until the end. 2Timothy 2:11-12 “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us”. For us to reign with Jesus at last, we must not be ashamed of Him on earth. We must, as soldiers, brag about Jesus. We must not boast in our abilities, strengths, connections or riches, our boastings must be in Jesus. We must highlight His power. He is worthy of our praises. He is worthy to be honored, because he is all in all.
Esprit de corps is a term most readily and normally applied in the military. This is not a modern concept; both the Romans and the Greeks had leaders who understood that by creating an organizational structure that allows for smaller groups to develop a sense of team spirit within a larger force, you can turn vast numbers of people into an agile, dynamic, and unstoppable force.
This also talks about team spirit. As an army of God, we can only do better in unity. Acts 2:1-2 “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting”. The Holy Spirit only moves where there is unity. We scarcely see the move of the Spirit in the church anymore. This is because the church is divided. The church is divided over doctrinal issues, leadership issues and other issues that needlessly tear her apart. It should be noted that what binds Christians together is more powerful than needless denominational issues that needlessly tear her apart.
This is a soldier’s noble calling to serve. It is demonstrated by devotion to duty, defending the people, in a manner consistent with the Army Ethic. Army Professionals live by Army Values in conduct of the mission and performance of duty, with discipline and to standard. Christians are called to serve. To serve God first, and to serve humanity. In our services, God must always take first place. Our service to man must not debar us from serving God. Most times, when God blesses us with jobs, we tend to stop serving Him. A Popular preacher once said, “the office where you work is your job, but your service to God is your work”. When we serve God, we automatically attract honor and glory. Jesus had to serve as the chief servant on earth before He was translated to become the King of kings and Lord of lords. Do not forget, God always rewards our labour. Hebrews 6:10-12 “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises”. David said, in Psalm 84:10 “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness” .It is more honorable to be the least in God’s kingdom than to continue in sin. God never honours sinners.
Attributes of a Christian Soldier
“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” II Timothy 2:3-4 (NKJV).This passage explains what it means for a Christian to be called a soldier, which are:
A soldier never backs out from a battle except he is told to do so by his commanding officer. As Christians we must never give in to the devil, because God who is our commanding officer says we should not. Hebrews 12:4 says, “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” Christian soldiers must never retreat nor surrender. We on the battle ground until the end of our lives. The hymn writer said, “I will be a good soldier, I will die at my post”. The question is how many of us are willing to die for Jesus? Soldiers never retreat even in the face of beatings, injuries and scourgings. Are we truly soldiers of Christ?
Colossians 3:1-4 “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory”. There are so many distractions and temptations in the world today. But a Christian soldier must have his eyes fixed on spiritual things, the things in heaven and on his Saviour. Child of God, deprive yourself of worldly pleasures, do not be entangled with the lusts and attractions of this world. Your Saviour and Commander in Chief is counting on you to stand as His soldier here on earth.
1Peter 2:11-12 “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation”. As soldiers of Christ we are pilgrims and strangers on earth. Just as soldiers do not get entangled with civilian affairs, so also Christians must not be entangled with things of this world. To be entangled is to become twisted together with or caught in something. It also means to be involved in complicated circumstances from which it is difficult to escape. The devil, in his crafty wisdom, seeks ways and opportunities to ensnare children of God, and trap them in sin.
David said in Psalm 119:47 “How I delight in your commands! How I love them!”. We must delight in God’s laws. Why do we find it so easy to disobey our commanding officer? God is king, He demands our obedience, honour, reverence and respect. This is how we differentiate true soldiers from civilians.
Israel’s fall from being the armies of God to being compared to a valley of dry bones.
The fall of the Israelites from the place of being the armies of God to being compared to dry bones can be likened to the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Through Adam’s sin, humankind fell from being the sons of God to being enemies of God. The Bible says all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. This means, since the fall of Adam everyone born of a woman is born into sin. The fall of the Israelites from the place of being the armies of God was caused by one thing which is disobedience.
Disobedience is refusing to obey rules or someone in authority, disobedience is refusing to do what someone in authority tells you to do. To a Christian, disobedience is refusing to do what God tells us to do. All of God’s laws are written in the Holy Scriptures, from time to time the Holy Spirit in us, tells us the mind of God. It is so sad knowing that many Christians disregard the commandments of God.
It ties God’s hands. It makes God unable to help us. Therefore, many times in the holy
scriptures, the same enemies captured Israel they once defeated. This is not because God is not powerful enough to deliver them, but like Isaiah 59:2 says “your iniquities have built barriers between you and your god, your sins have hidden his face from you that he will not hear you, Your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God your sins have hidden his face from you that he will not hear you”, Therefore, God left them to suffer in the hands of their enemies many times. Whenever a man decides to disobey God’s laws, he immediately stops God’s hands from working in his life.
Whenever a man chooses to disobey God, he automatically loses his place in destiny. The children of Israel were taken captive the moment they decided to disobey God. 1Kings 17:5-8 “Now the king of Assyria went throughout all the land and went up to Samaria and besieged it for three years. 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. 7 For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and they had feared other gods, 8 and had walked in the statutes of the nations whom the Lord had cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made”. The sin of disobedience took Israel out of their promised land. We also, if we continually disobey God, we would soon be taken out of our promised lands, or we might not even enter in at all.
Whenever we disobey God, we simply are saying we can do without him. Any disobedient child of God indirectly says that he can live his life on his own and by his power. 1Corinthians 10:12 “Therefore, let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he falls”. The scripture above is a warning and an alarm to Christians not to become weak in faith, but to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, and to be fervent in spirit. We Christians, are to learn from the Israelites, we are to learn from the fall of Adam, from Samson and from Judas Iscariot, that disobedience to God is the same as committing spiritual suicide. Adam sinned against God, it led to his death. Samson sinned against God, and it led to his death. Judas sinned against God, and it led to his death also. The examples cited above, are evidence that sin is deadlier than poison. Disobedience is a weapon the devil uses to disrupt God’s plans for his people.
The Bible also warns us to watch and pray so that we will not fall into temptation. This is because the flesh is weak even though the spirit is willing. As children of God, nobody is immune to temptation, and everyone has a choice to either obey God or to disobey him. For us to pick obedience, there are many examples in the word of God that show us that disobedience turns us from the armies of God to becoming dry bones. Jesus maintained his position as God’s beloved Son in whom he is well pleased until death. John maintained his position as the beloved of God until death. Abraham maintained this position as the friend of God until death. David maintained his position as the apple of God’s eyes until death. The question is, who are you in the sight of God? Are you maintaining your position in God? Israel degraded from being called the army of God to being called dry bones. The world is very dark, evil and sinful. It takes grace and mercy from God for us to stand. It also takes doggedness and willingness on our part not to lose our place in God. Matthew 11:12 says, “And from the days of John the Baptist even until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force”. 1Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was in me. This verse explains to us that it is possible for God’s grace over a man’s life to be in vain, when such a person does not labour in the place of prayers, fasting, Bible study and in spiritual discipline. Paul said he laboured more than every other apostle. He also said, he speaks in tongues more than everyone. How much investment do we have in the spirit? What can we do more than others? For what are we known?
The hymn writer says, and I quote “Christians, seek not yet repose, cast your dreams of ease away, you are amid foes, watch and pray. It is easier to fall from grace than to grow in grace. It seems impossible to degrade from being an army of God to become a valley of dry bones. But Israel’s fall and the fall of humanity has shown us that it takes one’s disobedience to fall from grace to grass.
What does it mean to be a Dry Bone?
Death can be spiritual and physical. Spiritual death is a state of separation From God. A man can be considered dead when he stops fellowshipping with God. Spiritual death does not happen suddenly. It is a gradual process. Just as nobody falls into immorality, but it is often the case of walking into it.
John 15:5 says, I am the vine, you are the branches. He that stays with me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit. For without me you can do nothing. It is impossible to be fruitful in God’s Kingdom without being his friend. God never reveals his intentions so strangers. Therefore, to know God’s mind and for us to be fruitful, we must live our lives in obedience to God. Many of us try to live our lives outside of God. Many of us even go as far as to get rich outside of God, using evil means; the end of such is destruction. In fact, the Bible says in Psalm 92:7 When the wicked spring up as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity flourish, it is that they may be destroyed forever. This means, when you see a man flourishing in sin, or where you realize that you are flourishing in sin, the intention of God is to destroy such persons. Therefore, we must quickly run back to the Lord and ask him for mercy.
To be a dry bone is to be helpless. No man attains to anything in life without the help of God. The Bible says in James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the father of lights, in whom there is no variableness neither shadow of turning’’. Without God, we are helpless. Israel forgot their Maker. They forgot their Provider. They forgot the One that provided for them in the wilderness. They deserted the One that delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians; therefore, God left them to perish.
It is only in God we can find sustenance, defense, protection, provision and shelter. Outside of God, we are nothing but dry bones.
Ezekiel 37:10:So, I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
Restoration is the act of returning something to its former owner, place or condition. God restored Israel and He is still in the business of restoring people. Israel went from being “the army of God” to being “dry bones”, then by God’s mercy they became “an exceeding great army.” God does not just restore; He restores us in a greater dimension. Our God is so merciful. Isaiah 61:7:For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore, in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them. In the above scripture, God promised to restore us in double folds.
Job 42:12-13: So, the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters. God restored Job in many folds, his latter was better than his beginning. If only we repent, we can retrieve all our lost years, glories and blessings. Joel 2:25: “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you”.
How to be Restored:
It is one thing to be restored; it is another to stay restored. To stay restored, we must Believe God. Jude 1:24-25 Now unto him that can keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. God loves it when we believe Him. He can do the impossible, He is able to keep us restored, keep us from falling, etc. the question is, do you believe? Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Whenever we doubt God, we are simply saying God is not powerful enough to solve the problem. We are indirectly saying there are things too hard for God to do. No matter the situation or challenge, we must learn to trust God. Nothing, Nobody, is bigger than God! Genesis 14:18: Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. Jeremiah 32:27: Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me? Nothing is too hard for God. He can forgive, He can save, He can restore, He can deliver, and He can transform. God does not just create; He sustains His creation. God does not just restore; He keeps us restored. Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Finally, the devil is not a respecter of persons, he throws temptations to the mighty and the weak. His intentions are to steal from us, to kill us and to destroy us eternally. If Jesus was tempted despite his position, then we as Christians are not exempted from temptation. John 10:10 “The thief comes not, but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”. Therefore, Christians must be true soldiers, watching day and night. Not getting attached to this present world. We must be alert soldiers, always willing to obey our Lord and willing to always fight the devil. To remain God’s army, we must continue in His word and make sure we never lose sight of it. John 8:31: Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed. Continuity is key in the realm of the spirit. A Christian that falls and rises from time to time cannot be ranked highly in the spirit. We must be committed and dogged in our pursuit of God. God must be our portion; we must take delight in Him and in His laws. Joshua 1:8:This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Nothing is impossible for God. That is why the hymn writer says, All things are possible to him that can in Jesus Name believe, Lord I no more thy Name blaspheme, thy truth I lovingly receive, I can, I do in thee believe, all things are possible to me. Luke 18:27:And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. Just as God restored Israel back to an exceedingly great army, He is able, abundantly able to restore us back. However, we must do what the scripture says: Revelation 2:5: Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
Having establish the fact that our God is the God of restoration, but we do have our roles to play. These are other responsibilities as follows:
Divine Intervention in Times Like This
Here lies the utmost and absolute solution to all our multifarious and multidimensional problems at all fronts. That is why we cannot set God aside in our fight against terrorism, corruption, insecurity, poverty, kidnappings, marital challenge, barrenness, diseases, moral decay and the endemic Coronavirus pandemic. Certainly, the Giver and Sustainer of Life who breathed life into humans at creation and did so in this vision, cannot be ignored if we must win the fight against all the battle that confront us. We should actively seek God as an ally in this fight. We should not despair or be consumed by fear. Instead, in the name of Jesus, we should pray to God and believe that good things will happen, and it shall be so. In the name of Jesus, we should pray to God and believe that all our goliaths shall be defeated, and it shall be so. In the name of Jesus, we should pray to God and believe that He will grant wisdom and put good ideas into the minds of our political leaders, spiritual leaders, military and security chiefs, the academia, social activists, scientists, researchers, economists, doctors, pharmacists, and all those searching for solutions, and it shall be so.
My dear people of God, in times like this, it is important to take note of one of the most profound statements our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ made. Jesus said, I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).Jesus said we will have trouble in this world. Are you in deep trouble? You need to stay with Jesus when the trouble that he mentioned comes to you and learn from it. Stay with Jesus for His peace that passes all human understanding. Stay with Jesus and be of good cheer because he has overcome the world. Because Christ lives, we shall also overcome the world despite the troubles.
If you are not yet born again, this is a suitable time for you to come to Jesus and stay with him. No matter how hopeless you think your own situation is, God loves you and you are the reason God sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross. As the Gospel of John puts it, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17 NIV). Jesus will be with you in this troubled time and show you the way to God the Father in heaven.
The good news is that the gloomy vision that Ezekiel saw had a happy ending. The dry bones scattered in the valley came together and formed a large army of the people of Israel. Similarly, in the name of Jesus Christ, all those troubles with which we are oppressed and depressed, shall be defeated and we shall soon live in peace and safety. And so, in the name of Jesus, if we pray to and believe in the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17b), then dry bones shall rise again in our time. Prayer is the key. May God grant us the grace to seek Him daily through our prayers.
It is important that we know who God is. We go through “dry bones” situations, challenges, valleys, etc. so that we can know that He is the Lord. Our natural inclination is to seek earthly help, e.g., physical treatment for sicknesses, instead of first seeking the face of God. In everything in life, it is best for our search for solutions to begin with God through prayer. In addition, we must commit to doing whatever God commands us to do, no matter how foolish or confusing it may seem.
Ezekiel 37:7: “So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone.”Whenever God is about to do something, there is a noise. God wants to minister to every impossibility in our lives, God wants to empower us as a peculiar people, with faith to prophesy to make dry bones come alive again. He wants to teach us when to speak and when not to speak; and then what to do to get the God-kind of results that would glorify God and expand His kingdom here on earth.
When we start to feel the “dry bones” of our lives taking over with depression, helplessness, hopelessness, bitterness or any other negative feeling we have to make a choice not to claim them and hold on to them. We need to hold on to the Word of God and fill our heart and mind with His goodness. What God has said concerning you will manifest. It does not matter how dry that situation might be right now, refuse to give up, refuse to lose hope, because something mighty will still take place in your life. We serve a God of all possibilities. God cannot be limited in any way. When others are limited by obstacles, we are rising above those obstacles. When others run without God, it is called race and they get weary but we, having given all to God, enjoy grace and we never get weary (Isa. 40:29-31).
God cannot fail and He knows what to do at every given point in time. God is a specialist in dealing with impossibilities. “Impossibility” means something that cannot be done or occur. God made an iron axe head to float on water (2 Kings 6:1-7). He can do the impossible. A complete dependence and reliance on God, tells us that when others are giving up, our strength is being renewed. Do not focus on what is happening, focus on what God said. (Rom 4:18-21). We must not give up, hold on to the Lord. However, we must note that “without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6). We must stop considering the hopelessness of our situation and focus on God of all possibilities. He is God of all possibilities. God wants us to know that impossibility is a language of men and not His. God wants us to relate with Him with all sincerity of heart through His son Jesus Christ, and see those things that have defiled human knowledge, wisdom, ability, and strength become possible. For with my God, the specialist of impossible matters, nothing shall be impossible.
May God bless you, be gracious unto you and cause His face of possibility to shine upon you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Dry bones shall rise again!
Dry bones shall rise again!
Lord Jehovah can do all things,
He is able, able,
Dry bones shall rise again!
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