Faithlife Sermons

Dry Bones

Sermons on the Readings from the Easter Vigil  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Ezekiel 37:1 ESV
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones.
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Blessed Pentecost to you. Today is the birthday of the Church, the Day when Jesus’ promise is fulfilled that He would send a comforter to make known to us the will of God. The day when faith in Christ is born. The day when the Holy Spirit comes with all of His gifts and fruits. The day when no longer is water mere water, but the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost was originally a Jewish holiday. It was when the Jewish people celebrated the feast of Shavu’ot- the celebration of God’s First Covenant in giving the Law to His Children on Sinai. It was also when the Children of Israel celebrated the Spring Harvest, 50 days after Passover. This year all of the holidays lined up and today, along with being Pentecost, is the Festival of Shavu’ot. That it happens this way this year is a great teaching tool, as it is exactly how it happens on the first Pentecost.
Today is our final sermon on texts from the Great Vigil of Easter. Not coincidentally, we conclude with a reading that is also the Old Testament lesson appointed for the Feast of Pentecost, Ezekiel chapter 37, the first part, which is the section about the dry bones.
Our outline will use the word “BONES” to lead us through this text.
B- Ezekiel is BROUGHT to the Valley that was full of bones.
O- O LORD, you alone know
N- There was a NOISE
E - Breath ENTERED them

Ezekiel is BROUGHT by God to the Valley

Ezekiel 37:1–3 ESV
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”
Ezekiel 37:1-
At the time of this text, Israel was still in exile in Babylon. A lot of the texts that we have examined take place at this same time.
Israel had all but died. 70 plus years out of their country, the tribes and two generations have passed away in a foreign land. For the Israelites who remained in Israel, all seemed lost. Israel was the dry bones. It had died as the nation that it once was.
In this vision, God shows Ezekiel this picture of Israel: Dead bones on the floor of a valley. And not only dead, but “dry” bones- they had been there so long that the bones were just a huge, valley filling pile. Long dead bones, dried out by the hot sun in that area.
The dry bones were Israel.
God asks Ezekiel a question. He calls him “Son of man”- which is a title that weaves its way throughout this book of Prophecy. It foreshadows the true “Son of Man and Son of God”, Jesus Christ. He asks Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
What would you say to that question? The bones of those we love who passed remain bones. Our eyes tell us that the resounding answer to this is “no.”
But that was not Ezekiel’s answer.

“O Lord God, you know.”

Ezekiel 37:3-
Ezekiel 37:3–6 ESV
And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon 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.”
Ezekiel is called to prophesy to this boneyard. The prophecy is a miraculous declaration: These bones will live. They will come alive. They will have flesh reattached and they will breathe.
Now, on the surface, this is referring to God restoring life to Israel. The tree of Israel would be cut down and off, but then a Sprig would shoot forth from Jesse’s line.
Israel was certainly cut down and off. The exile in Babylon was the ultimate deathblow. No more tribes. The city of Jerusalem and the Temple had been plundered and decimated, so when what was left returned to Israel , there would be weeping and mourning. And yet.... The Lord Himself was the one to give the prophecy that these bones would live. And they would live because He, Himself, would bring them alive.
Ezekiel proclaims a prophesy to Israel that, at the time, made no sense. But King Cyrus gives an edict allowing Israel to leave captivity and return to their own land.

There was a NOISE

After Ezekiel prophesies the restoration of life to these dead, dry bones, it happens in the midst of Ezekiel’s prophecy.
Ezekiel 37:7–8 ESV
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them.
Ezekiel 37:
The bones came together.
To Israel, this was the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s words. Israel was coming back to life, that is, what was left of it, and once again She would worship the Lord in Her own land.
But she was still a corpse: The bones were there, the flesh was there, but there was no breath in Her.

Spirit

Ezekiel 37:
Ezekiel 37:9–10 ESV
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
Spirit. Wind. Breath. They are all the same words in both Hebrew and Greek. It is in the Spirit that the corpses begin to breathe and come alive.
Ezekiel tells us, however, that the ultimate fulfillment is not in Israel being reborn and returning to the Land of Israel:
Ezekiel 37:12–14 ESV
Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”
: 12-
The Children of Israel are not the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy. ISRAEL is— the New Israel, the Church. And that is the connection to Pentecost.
Ever since the Fall into sin, we are a boneyard. Dead, dry bones spiritually. Bones that cannot do anything to come together. They cannot physically do anything. They cannot make a decision to live.
God brings the bones together Himself. And restores the flesh. And then breathes His life into His Church. The dead come back to life and He calls them His Bride.
Resurrection in our lives has happened in the water of Baptism. We are now the living Israel restored from the bones of sin and death. This is the Work of the Blessed Holy Spirit, the Third person in the Holy Trinity, who has made us alive in Jesus, joins us in His death on the Cross, and pulls us out of our cold, dark tombs and who continues to bless us with His love, forgiveness, hope and salvation through His Word and Sacraments.
Because of it, when we die, the Day is coming where God will put His spirit in each of us, that vivifying, life giving spirit. Bone will rejoin bone. Ashes will be restored. And God will put His Spirit within you, and you shall live in the Promised Land forever. You will be literally raised from your grave; and Ezekiel’s prophecy will find its ultimate fulfillment.
And in this, God has brought His Israel into joy from sadness.
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