Finding Hope Beyond Despair

KEY VERSE: “[I, the LORD] shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.” —Ezekiel 37:14

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Ezekiel 37:1-12, 14

IN A VISION, God showed the Prophet Ezekiel a valley of dry, unburied bones that represent the “whole house of Israel.” (Ezek. 37:11) God’s people had been defeated and dismembered. We cannot imagine the reaction of the prophet as he viewed, in vision, this scene of dry, sun-bleached bones. They were separated one from another, scattered at random, and very many in number. Nothing in this scene would have suggested any hope for life. All seemed irretrievably lost.

The reason for this condition was not that they had been defeated by a superior nation, but because they had turned away from God, and he had allowed this great punishment to come upon them as a result. Even before their defeat at the hands of the Babylonians, the people were, in a sense, spiritually dead—their bones dry and without the water of truth.

God, however, did not gloat over their defeat, but rather now proclaims the hope for life. He asks the prophet, “Son of man, can these bones live?” (vs. 3) Ezekiel cannot answer for certain, that this is possible, but he trusts that such a possibility exists, and so responds, “Thou knowest.” God then speaks the words that the prophet longs to hear, telling him that these bones shall live, and that this life, just as with Adam in the Garden of Eden, will be provided by the power of God himself. He says, “I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live.”—vs. 3-5

Just as their fall from favor and subsequent destruction came over a period of time, so also their return to favor and eventually life itself occurs in a series of steps. At first the bones come together “bone to his bone,” and then sinews come upon the bones to begin connecting them together. Finally, flesh (or skin) comes and covers the bones and sinews. (vss. 4-10) It would appear that a full restoration had now been accomplished. Yet verse 8 states, “But there was no breath in them.” They were not yet alive from God’s standpoint. It is from the symbolic “four winds” (vs. 9), that breath finally comes, and these formerly dry bones, now covered with sinews, flesh, and infused with the breath of life, live. “The breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.”—vs 10

In verses 12-14, God, through the prophet, declares how this restoration process will take place. He says that they will be brought up out of their graves, and back into the land of Israel. We would understand this in two ways. First, Israel would be brought back from their graveyard among Gentile nations, in which they were scattered for many centuries as dry bones. Second, those literally in their graves would be brought forth in the resurrection spoken of by Jesus: “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.”—John 5:28,29

Our Key Verse (Ezek. 37:14) says at that time God will put his Spirit in them, and as a result, they will live. He will also place them back in their own land once again, not forgetting the inheritance promised to their father, Abraham. Finally, he says, “Then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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