Hopelessness is a terrible place to find yourself. It arises out of a sense of desperation that is so great that emotionally someone just gives in, or worse, gives up. Often it is from those times of absolute despair and hopelessness that God works His greatest miracles in our lives.
Martin Luther said, “God made man out of nothing and as long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us.” Too often our pride leads us to a sense of independence in which we do not need God, or at least that is what we think. When we are filled with a sense of self-confidence we tend to ignore God. Sometimes God will allow us to get to the end of ourselves and then He will do His greatest work in and through us.
Ezekiel had been preparing for his role as Priest since he was very young. But his plans were interrupted when God allowed Nebuchanezzar and Babylon to carry Judah into captivity. Ezekiel had been carried with the first wave in 596 BC. In that context God calls Ezekiel into a prophetic role. Much of his early years were spent trying to help the people of God understand that the impending judgment was going to be long and thorough. The people of God thought, God will never allow anything truly bad to happen to Jerusalem, and He certainly will not allow harm to come to His Temple. But in 587 the Babylonians completely destroyed Jerusalem and leveled the Temple, carrying most of the remaining people into captivity.
Now Judah is absolutely despondent. They are by their own admission (37:11) hopeless and cut off from God. It is to that hopelessness that God speaks in chapter 36 promising to restore His people. He promises a new covenant. He promises to place His Spirit in their hearts. And the people of God are incredulous. They are convinced that what God has promised is absolutely impossible. To that unbelief God comments with Chapter 37 and this amazing Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones.
God puts Ezekiel down in the plains where a great battle has destroyed the people of God and left their bones scattered on top of the ground. The sun has bleached them out and dried them out. And God asks the prophet an unbelievable question: “Son of man, can these bones live again?” What would you have said? Would it not be tempting to say, “No way, God. They are dead.”
God tells Ezekiel to preach to the bones. When he does, the bones come together. Muscle and tissue comes back. Skin comes back. Then God tells Ezekiel to preach to the wind and command it to breathe on these bones. He does, and amazingly the bones come to life again.
It is a picture of the Spirit of God berating new life on God’s people.
God tells Ezekiel that this picture of the bones coming back to life is a picture of His restoration of His OT people, Judah. In a similar fashion so often our churches can become like this valley of dry bones. We forget that the essential person in our church is the Holy Spirit, and we leave God out. When we do, we find ourselves defeated, and desperate. Without any sense of hope we give up.
God reminds us that He can do anything. He can breathe new life into our churches. We must come to the end of ourselves. We must “Hear” His word and obey His Word as we see in this passage of Scripture. We must pray to the Holy Spirit to rekindle the fire in our midst.
Are you in a desperate situation? Do you believe that God can bring new life? Will you catch up on your obedience to Him? Will you pray until God acts?
I hope so.