“So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army,” Ezekiel 37:10, NKJV
If looking at a valley of dead bones isn’t enough to shake you, then what follows would have blown my mind! God does some pretty amazing things in the Bible and this by far has to be one of my favorite stories that display His sovereignty. It’s one thing to hear of people being brought back from the dead and it’s quite another to see the process with the naked eye. Think about it, what would it have been like?
Can you imagine being there with God and Him turning to you to ask what is supposedly a simple but not so simple question? “Son of man, can these bones live?” (Ez. 37:3, NKJV). “What? Did I hear Him right?” is what Ezekiel must have thought. “Can these bones live?” the question just rolled through his mind dumbfounding him. Awestruck, his response was as I believe mine would have been, “O Lord GOD, You know,” (Ez. 37:3, NKJV), while shrugging my shoulders all kinds of ways. At that point I believe Ezekiel was starting to realize in a whole new way the magnitude of God. Looking out over the valley and seeing the waste of what was once life and trying to imagine them alive, his response was to appeal to the sovereignty of God – “You know!”
God does know but he wants us to know that He knows. Right? It sounds like some teenage gibberish but God puts these questions out there to see where our belief lies. To see if we really see Him as being in control of everything including those things that appear dead.
I don’t know personally how it must have looked but I can imagine the scene in my head. Sitting on the edge of a cliff and looking down and then out to see nothing but human remains. Sitting stock still in horror, I would have started pondering all the “what’s, who’s, why’s and how’s” this all came to pass. What battle took place? Who was involved? Why did it have to come to this? How is it that there were none left to bury the dead? There, just a mass of unanswered questions covering a sea of death.
What would have been like? The appearance of body upon body stacked and scattered throughout would have been too much for me. It reminds me of the scene in The Lion King where a young Simba goes to the Elephant Graveyard. Nothing existed there. Just death and shadows; coldness and loneliness. Nothing to cheer about, nothing to hope for if it were not for that question that came from the Lord. “Can these bones live?”
Death in reverse is what God was stating. Taking an impossible act of nature and reenacting the process on rewind. If the question wasn’t enough, how about the command. “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!'”(Ez. 37:5, NKJV). Standing reverently but in utter stupefaction, Ezekiel knew that he was at a point of no return in his ministry. God was drawing him into the process. “I don’t know about this,” would have been what most were thinking as they did as He commanded. “I’m still reeling from the sight and I am not sure I am quite ready for the process. “
But that’s the real question God was asking him. Not if they can live but is he ready to be a part of the process. Surely, by now Ezekiel had known the answer of what God can do, but was he sure of what God can do through him? Are you sure of what God can do through you?
What would it have been like? At the spoken command to hear before you see an unsettling sound. A noise permeated the air. Rattling overshadowed the quiet of the valley. In a place that knew only demise and decay was now going to be re-identified as something miraculous. The rattle was with purpose. It meant things were moving into their proper place. It meant brokenness was being made whole. It was the start of a brand new life where there was none before. This was incredible to not only witness but to be a part of!
After the re-attachment of limbs and other skeletal remains. After heads rolled back to the top of their owners then the real stuff transpired. It’s one thing for bones to find their host bodies and reattached themselves. It’s quite another to witness those very bones, the nothingness that was left, begin to take on a new life. Sinews and flesh began recover the bleached parched surfaces (Eww!). All the while, Ezekiel just watches. What would you do? Like a train wreck, as horrible as it may seem you can’t tear your eyes away from it. Under the ribs organs began to reform and the life supply of veins maneuvered their way throughout, spreading the possibility for more. My personal opinion is that the flesh and sinews had to cover them first because all that underneath stuff was just too vomitrocious to witness – I’m just saying!
Did I say stupefaction? Yes, I did because at this point my mind would have been utterly blown away by all that transpired thus far. But God was not done. He was truly reversing the life process. The bodies were now formed and covered “but there was no breath in them,” (Ez. 37:8, NKJV). God gave him a new command, ‘Prophesy to the breath . . . Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain that they may live,” (Ez. 37:9, NKJV). Ezekiel had no problem doing as was commanded of him, “So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army,” (Ez. 37:10, NKJV). Before they stood did they gasp at the feel of air entering their lungs once again? When they stood, did they turn to each other recognizing the “what was” and processing the “what is now?”
What would their future look like now? Or, is this just all a vision?
To see dead bones live in this fashion would have been an awesome and beautiful thing to see. Think about it. God took an impossible situation and did a complete 360. It’s as if He had His finger on the hands of some big cosmic spiritual clock and purposefully began to rotate it backwards. Spinning it and spinning it until all of death had to let go and life came to the forefront once again. What would it have been like to witness this?
Don’t you know? We may have not been bones but what remained of us of what the world stripped away was given a new command in the valley. The valley, our lowest point of life, was shaken and rattled until it stood at the command of God. Our lifelessness was renewed when His spirit breathed in us freshness untold. Before He had a vision of us we were surrounded by spiritual death but then there arose potential out of nothingness. Captured by grace and loved on by His mercy we received in us His gift of a second chance.
There’s a lot of things in that particular valley that would have left me unsettled but I only had to turn to the One who was commanding the change in me and see the love in His eyes for me. I only had to look and believe as He did that there is something alive here, there is something that can be raised up for me. We have been in that valley. Vision or no, we have been to the place of impossibility just to see Him make it possible.
To see those bones rise to new life and live would have been amazingly awesome but to see what He has done in me is far better. I don’t know what it would have been like there but I know what it is like here. “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness if life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,” (Romans 6:5-6, NKJV). Because of Christ I got a chance to experience life outside of the valley. What about you? God can do amazing things through you, too. Get ready for the process to see dead bones live!