Our lesson this week is going to be the last lesson in this unit of lesson for the month which, again, is titled – Faithful to Prophesy. This lesson is going to take a look at a few things of interest for us, especially for us in the role of ministering the word of God. We will see the kind of people that we will minister the word of God to and we will also see what the word of God can do to those who receive it. This week’s lesson is being taught from Ezekiel 37:1-14.
Ministering to Dry Bones
Our lesson opens up with the prophet Ezekiel receiving a vision from the Lord (v.1). In this vision, Ezekiel was sat down in the midst of a valley of dry bones. So, right from the start, let’s make it clear that what we are going to be looking at in our lesson this week is a vision – not something that literally happened.
The Lord carried Ezekiel through this valley of dry bones and he saw many around him. The bones in this valley, human by the way, had been sitting in this valley for quite some time as Ezekiel makes it clear that the bones were very dry (v.2). So, the bones in this vision had been sitting in that valley for quite some time if there was not even any flesh on the bones.
So, why were these bones sitting out there in that valley? The Lord was going to use these bones for the purpose of showing Ezekiel, and also the rest of us, what the word of God is capable of doing. God asked Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones live (v.3)?”
I chuckle somewhat at this question because nobody would look at some dried up bones and think to themselves that life could ever enter into those bones, unless we were in some kind of fantasy story or movie. Yet, Ezekiel responded to the Lord, “you know.” Ezekiel was not going to doubt what the Lord was able to do! Why else would God be asking that question to him, right?
So, the Lord tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones, saying to them, “O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord (v.4)!” Now, this is a very interesting statement to make when we consider the question: how could these bones hear? This all reminds me of a proverb that states, “a sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones (Prov. 14:30). Why am I reminded of this proverb?
Well, think about your bones – your skeleton – for a moment. Our skeleton is the structure of our physical body, right? It is certainly better to have bones that are healthy because they help us to be able to move around. Rottenness bones are terrible for us as we would struggle to get around. So, it is of the utmost importance for our bones to be healthy and strong.
Now, as the bones are the structure of our body, I would suggest to you that the structure (or the foundation) of who we truly are is our soul. As it is good for us to have healthy and strong bones, it is good that our soul is healthy and strong as well. You do not want to have a soul that is rotten because no good can come from a poor and rotten soul.
So, when I think of these dry bones, or the rotten bones that Solomon spoke of in proverbs, I think about the soul. I have said on several occasions in the past that our soul is more than able to see and hear. The soul is able to absorb and soak in from its surroundings which is why we have to be careful about who we listen to and surround ourselves with.
Giving life to the bones
“Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live (v.5).” Notice, there’s no sorcery or sorcerer that could raise up those bones; God says that He would be the cause of life to enter back into those bones. Again, I tell you, these bones are representative of us – our soul.
The message from the Lord continued and said, “I will put sinews (muscles) on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord (v.6).” God’s message here was about resurrection as He was speaking about resurrecting these bones – or the soul, if you will.
This, again, reminds me of scripture from Paul’s writing where he spoke repeatedly of God restoring life to those who are dead in the trespasses of their sin. Paul, to the Ephesians, wrote, “you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1).” To the Romans, Paul wrote, “if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you (Rom. 8:11).”
Preaching the message to the bones
Guess what our message is today? Our message – the gospel we preach – is all about trusting and believing in the Lord – His blessings, forgiveness, mercy, and then His salvation. In the gospel, we know that the Holy Spirit dwells in us and through the inner working of the Spirit, our soul is transformed. Prior to the inner dwelling of the Holy Spirit, our soul was dead in sin, but again, God wakes up that dead soul just as He does with the dry bones in Ezekiel’s vision.
Ezekiel tells us that he prophesied just what he was commanded to prophesy and as he did so, the dry bones began to stir (v.7). As he continued to prophesy to the dry bones, Ezekiel watched as the sinews and flesh came upon the bones. Yet, he noticed that there was no breath yet in the bones (v.8).
So, the Lord instructed Ezekiel to continue to prophesy and gave him the words to say so that the breath could enter back in (v.9). This is an example of what Jesus said about the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Jesus said, “When they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say (Luke 12:11-12).”
As Ezekiel said what the Lord instructed him to say, he noticed that breath came into the dry bones and they lived – they stood to their feet (v.10)! The message of God is a message that brings life to the soul; it can bring a soul that is dead in sin back to life. This is why we preach the message of God today – to stir up a soul and bring a soul back to life.
The final verse of our lesson this week confirms that the dead bones were representative of people. The Lord, we will see, said to Ezekiel, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off! (v.11)’”
Dead souls are souls that have no hope and are cut off from the Lord. Now, God is more than able to give life back to these dead souls – that is, He is able to wake them up. What we should be doing is preaching the Lord’s message to stir up the dead soul to hear from God so that the Holy Spirit can enter and bring that soul back to life (vss.12-14).