I’m finishing up the book of Ezekiel today. I gotta admit, it’s been tough. I’m reading through the Bible chronologically, or in the order the stories actually occurred. So, I’ve been reading the prophets, one after another after another, and it’s gotten very heavy. I’ve been dreading the reading because I’m so overwhelmed with the people’s sins, and how broken the whole thing is, and how God is angry and broken-hearted at it all.
Then today, I hit Ezekiel 37. It says:
1 The hand of the Lord was on 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, “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, breath, from the four winds 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.
11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them.
This story turns the whole book around. Ezekiel has been given dark message after tough message to tell the people. But here, God is doing several things. One, He is helping the prophet understand that the messages are meant to heal over all. Second, even though the nation has turned it’s back on God, He still has a plan to heal them. Third, there is always hope.
I am so grateful that when I am like the people of Israel, and I run my own course and ruin everything, that God is still there, even though He shouldn’t be. So often I feel like I’ve messed things up so badly that there is nothing left of me but dryness and bones. Then He reminds me, He always has a plan, always has a way, to turn things around.
It’s also encouraging that when I am speaking and doing what I am supposed to do, that God will use it. Often I feel like the things I say and do for Him have little to no effect. God reminds me, reminds us, that is never true. He can bring life to any dry bones, anytime He wants. We have to be faithful, and trust Him to carry out His plans.
I don’t know if you’re in either spot today, either in a mess and needing hope, or tired of serving and needing encouragement, but I hope you can take something from Ezekiel 37 and hear God telling you “It’s going to be okay. Just trust me.”