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Can Dry Bones Live?

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Ezekiel 36,37


Last Sunday, Amos mentioned a bone yard that they had on their farm where animals were hauled when they died. He said that as he went there, he never expected that these animals would be alive again.

When our children were small, a bird died because it had flown into a window. The children were sad for the bird and decided that they needed to have a funeral. I don’t know where they got their ideas about how to conduct a funeral or where they got the idea that a reading from the Song of Solomon would be appropriate for a funeral for a bird. One thing I do know, however, is that when they buried the bird in its little box, they did not expect it to come alive again.

Have you ever found a bone? I remember one time when we were on the shores of the Pembina River and we found bone. We spent some time trying to decide what kind of a bone it was. The scary thought came that it might even be a human bone, but we found out that it was a bone from some kind of animal, a deer or moose or something. The bone was dead and dry and we tried to think of what the life of the animal had been and how it had died. The question which never came to us, however was, “Can this bone live again?” That question was, however, was asked of Ezekiel by God in Ezekiel 37.

I. Can Dry Bones Live? Ezekiel 37:1-10

A. They Were Very Dry

God took hold of Ezekiel and brought him to a valley that was full of bones. Not just one bone, not just a pile of bones from dead animals, but a whole valley full of human bones. It may describe something like a battlefield in which many people have died. In times of civil war or revolution, they sometimes find mass graves. It must have been something like that, but these bodies were never buried, they were lying outside and the bones were dry and bleached in the hot sun. The hopelessness of the situation is highlighted when it says in verse 2 that these bones “were very dry.”

If you have seen “The Princess Bride,” which is one of my favourite movies, you may remember that they take the “farm boy” out of the torture chamber looking very dead, and bring him to Miracle Max who proclaims that “he isn’t all dead, he is only mostly dead.” That was not the case for this valley of dry bones that Ezekiel was shown. These bones were all dead. God asked Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?” and the clear and unequivocal answer was, “no!” But Ezekiel was wiser than that because he knew that he was dealing with God and so humbly answered, “O, Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

B. They Came To Life

God enlisted the prophet to participate in the life giving task. There are two stages to the prophetic work. First of all, Ezekiel was called to speak to the bones in order that they should come together. Amazingly, when Ezekiel prophesied, there was a rattling sound and the text says, “the bones came together, bone to bone… and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them.”

This is the text where the spiritual “Dem Bones” comes from. There are various versions of the song, but the words go something like this:

Ezekiel connected dem dry bones

Ezekiel connected dem dry bones

Ezekiel connected dem dry bones

Now hear the word of the Lord.

Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones
Now hear the word of the Lord.

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