“The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.” (Ezekiel 37:1)
I am not expert on these things, but I suspect this was a dream or a vision. Not to discount dreams or visions brought about by the Divine. I have had dreams/visions that seemed God lead or inspired. Some dreams/visions have been revealed. Some of them I am still puzzling over to this day.
“He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” (Verses 2 – 3)
It is always best, beloved reader, to let the Lord God lead in these dreams or visions. I have tried to puzzle some of mine out, but since the Lord God inspired them I have learned to let the Lord God lead in the understanding of them.
“Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.
I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.” (Verses 4 to 6)
My seminary professors (or was it preachers from my youth or simply the explanation in the passage itself) explained that this passage is to be interpreted as the Lord God promising to revive the called and chosen people, the nation of Israel who had been made captive and taken away from their land. That anything, even reanimating bones or people lost and gone astray, is possible.
“So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them.” (Verses 7 to 8)
It is one thing, beloved reader, to revive a person or a people, to bring them back into the land of the living – whatever may have caused their death. It is quite another thing to instill hope and faith where there was once nothing. That is of the Divine.
“Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act,” says the LORD.” (Verses 9 to 14)
It seems rather redundant to say that this passage is used during Lent. Of course it is. But it is not just a history lesson for the nation of Israel. It is a reminder that what we think is dead and gone – hope, faith, compassion, care, love, mercy, grace – can be revived by the Lord God. In the nation (the nation of United States and other nations) there is moaning and bewailing of what has come to pass. Yes, there are tragedies in all places and parts of the world. We thing what had been ours before and has been taken from us is lost and gone forever. That is not so. Yes, it may take the coming/return of the Lord God. Or it may take a total change of events and the current situation. We do not know. If we feel like “dry bones”, we should not think that is our fate for all times. The Lord moves and the Spirit blows where it will, and we cannot predict it. Do not give up hope, beloved reader. In this season of Lent be reminded that dry bones can be brought back to life. Selah!