Restoration In The Valley
Have you ever found yourself detached from God and spiritually crushed because of something you’ve done? Have you ever committed a sin so serious that you felt like you might as well give up on trying to be a Christian? Have you ever done something so bad privately that you were ashamed for people to know you were a Christian publicly? Sometimes our mistakes, slip ups, back sets, SIN can bury us in low places, but the Grace of God is sufficient to restore you, no matter how low you go. The gospel of Ezekiel is a perfect picture of redemption after rebellion. If we will be completely honest with ourselves at some point we’ve done something that made us feel as if there was no way our relationship with God could be real. At some point we have or will experience the disappointment of doing something that completely goes against who we say we are. I’m not trying to get into anybody’s business, but as Children of God we need to know how to handle being in the valley. It is not a matter of if you go to the valley, but when you get to the valley. We all know people who quit the Church because they felt as though their past would never allow them to be a real Christian. The Christian journey beloved, is not about perfection, but persistence. The God I serve will pardon your imperfections in order to revive your relationship with him.
After spending the the entirety of his ministry going to the hedges and the highways prophesying to the people Ezekiel found himself in the middle of THE valley. I want you to notice that there is something very specific about the valley. Ezekiel doesn’t say that he found himself in a valley, he said he was in THE valley. What’s so special about this valley that Ezekiel makes such a precise and specific reference to it? Well, Ezekiel is obviously familiar with this location, but he doesn’t give us any kind of geographic reference. He doesn’t call the valley by name but he’s intentional in referring to it. I want to suggest to you that both Ezekiel and the people are familiar with this valley, because it is the place he had told them they would end up if they didn’t get back on the narrow path. Understand that there is a difference between going through a valley and being in the valley. At some point we’re all going to go through valley’s in life. In this world you will have tribulation. () There are some valleys that we must go through for our development. We go through valleys in life for no apparent reason. Life gets dark, we find ourselves going through it. Everything that can go wrong, has went wrong. The Lord brings us through those valleys to develop our faith. There are some valleys that the Lord leads us through to allow us to teach us how to walk with him. But the valley is the place we end up when we refuse to follow him.
There are valleys in life that we go through not because of anything we’ve done wrong, but because God is still trying to make us right. But then there is the valley, Ezekiel’s valley. Which is the valley of consequence for our bad behavior. The spiritual graveyard where we lay down our faith and our religion after we’ve done something wrong. The beauty of the valley is that God will resurrect your bones no matter what you’ve done wrong or how long you’ve been doing it.
We see the valley, but then we see that there are two types of people in the valley. There are the bones, who in verse 11 as the house of Israel. Then, there is the prophet. The prophet has been sent to the valley on divine assignment to prophesy, and redeem the bones. His position and condition in the valley is distinct from the bones. The prophet is living and has been led there alone by the spirit. The bones are dead and spiritless. I want to point out something that Ezekiel observed about the bones. Ezekiel said that they were very many.
2 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.
Ezekiel, from his lonely perspective, says that the bones were many. In other words don’t be ashamed about being in the valley, because chances are you aren’t alone. You’re not alone in the valley, but the best news is, you don’t have to stay in the valley. There is one who sits above the bones who is ready and willing to bring you out of the valley. is a story about a gracious God who is able to put together broken pieces, and revive dry souls. There are three scenes in this story of restoration.
The first scene in this restoration project actually occurs in the chapters prior to . The question we must ask ourselves upon finding these bones in the valley is, how did they get there? This is an important question if we are to avoid the valley ourselves. How can we avert the path to destruction and desolation less we know the way? It was the rebellion of the House of Israel that led them into this valley. This valley symbolized the distance between them and their God as a result of their rebellion and resistance. The valley was their self-imposed punishment for their selfish behavior. What’s important for us to understand about the position and condition of these bones, is this. Their spiritual death was brought about by their disobedience. You’ve got to be able to see the relationship between rebellion and the valley. The prophecy of the bones in the valley is as much about the destruction of the bones as it is the reconstruction of the bones. On the one end is the hope of restoration, but on the other end is the warning against rebellion. On one hand you have the power of God to revive dry bones, but in front of that you have the rebellion of men that leads to dried up bones.
Rebellion is a dangerous condition. It is a degenerative disease. Some of the symptoms of rebellion are stubborn hearts, and hard hearing. There were signs that these people would end up in this valley one day. There are always signs before we get to the valley, but if we aren’t watchful. Just like the interstate. There are all sorts of signs between your starting point and your destination that will let you know whether you are headed in the right direction or not. The House of Israel showed all the signs of a rebellious child. As a matter of fact, when God called Ezekiel into the ministry he warned him of the people’s stubbornness and hard hearing.
But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.
How did these bones end up in the valley? Because they were rebellious and didn’t know it. They had ears to hear but did not hear nor heed to the word of God. They didn’t recognize the symptoms of their condition and it just kept taking them farther and farther away from where they were supposed to be. That is why Jesus admonished his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane to watch and pray.
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
You know, it’s sad when you can see someone you know, someone you grew up with, someone you love, headed towards destruction. You begin to notice a drink every now and then become a drink every night. A high every now and then becoming a high every day. You just see all of the signs of a person headed towards a valley. But what’s even more tragic, is when you can notice all of those signs and can’t hear the GPS telling you you’re getting off course. Don’t spend so much time keeping up with somebody else that you end up following them to the valley. Be watchful over your own life. God had diagnosed the House of Israel with rebellion because he had seen the signs. They didn’t want to hear the word and they didn’t obey his word. Whenever you get to a point where your life isn’t lining up with the word, your headed towards the valley.
Their rebellion to God, made them a Godless people just like the nations around them. Godlessness leads to sinfulness, and sinfulness leads to the valley. This valley, or “the valley” as Ezekiel calls it is the very place that he had been telling them they would end up if they kept ignoring the symptoms of rebellion. The valley is the place where we find out the small things we’ve been doing in private will cost us. The valley is place the people around us tried to warn us about. How did these bones end up in the valley? The same way our bones find their way to the valley. The valley is a familiar place. You know about the valley, because you’ve seen other people ignore the word and what they’ve been taught land in the valley. They valley is a familiar place because you too have at some point rebelled against God and ended up in the valley. We all like sheep have gone astray, everyone to his own way. Do you know where sheep end up when they stray away from the Shepherd? The Valley. The valley is a familiar place because it isn’t the first time you have sinned against God, and it won’t be the last. But all Glory be to God that we have a Shepherd who can reach down into the valley and give life to our dry bones.
We know that rebellion will lead us to the valley. But how do we get out of the valley? Before you can be restored, you have to recognized you’re in need of restoration. In fact, I would suggest to you that it was their lack of recognition that led to their rebellion. Because at the heart of rebellion is a lack of respect or recognition of the person you should obey. God recognized the House of Israel as his people, and he treated them as such. Even in allowing them to suffer spiritual drought in the valley and oppression in Babylon, he recognized them as his children. He recognized that because they had been disobedient he needed to let them suffer the consequences of their actions. He recognized them as his children, but they didn’t recognize him as their God. This lack of recognition led to their rebellion.
Their lack of recognition resulted in rebellion, which resulted in them landing in the valley. But their recognition of their spiritual condition would be the cause for God to restore their bones. It is possible for us to be spiritually dead, separated from God, and not even realize that we’re in bad shape. Realizing, and recognizing that you are somewhere you shouldn’t be, and don’t want to be is the first step to restoration. God won’t save anyone who doesn’t want to be saved. God is much wiser than we are and he does not waste his infinite time trying to save people who don’t want to be saved. It’s not that he can’t save them, but his desire for them is to first desire being saved. That’s what repentance is, isn’t it? Acknowledging that you’ve done what you weren’t supposed to do, you ended up somewhere you don’t need to be, and understanding you need God’s Grace to make it all right. In verse 11 of the House of Israel realizes their spiritual condition is critical, if not already dead.
Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’
This revelatory recognition of their condition would lead to their restoration. Pay attention to the quote by the bones. There are three things that they notice about their condition:
The dryness of their bones.
They are without hope
They are cutoff
First they self diagnose themselves as having dry bones. Bones don’t get dry overnight. Dry bones is a condition that happens as a result of being exposed to the wrong stuff for two long. Dry bones are a symbol of how depravity affects your soul and your flesh over time. The valley will eventually drain you if you stay there too long. Bones that are dry suggest that there is something you’ve been struggling with for a while that has taken you farther than you intended on going, and kept you longer than you planned on staying. You know it started out as one of those innocent sins, if there is such a thing. You’d rather do this to get you by than to commit one of those bigger sins. Because you know, I’ve got to have a life, I’ve got to be able to enjoy life. Next thing you know that little innocent sin, has dried your bones out because you’ve been doing it so long you can’t recognize the effect it has had on your spiritual nourishment.
Dry bones speak to the depravity of the soul and the flesh. Lack of hope speaks to the separation between the bones and their God. They have gotten so far down in the valley that they can no longer see God. Everything around them is desolate and dark Godlessness leads to hopelessness. Because they are without their God they are without their hope.
The first two conditions are the effects and the last condition is the cause. “They are cutoff”. Being cutoff from God makes your bones dry and robs you of any hope of getting your life back on track. This recognition, however, would lead to their restoration and redemption. Many of us are too proud to acknowledge that we are in bad shape. But don’t be too proud to admit that you aren’t where you want to be. Once you recognize you need fixing, recognize the one who can fix you. Restoration begins with recognition. The truth is sometimes we are the reason we end up in the valley. But the good news is if you recognize the one who cause the mess and the one who can fix the mess, you don’t have to stay messed up .
“Father I stretch my hands to thee, with no other help I know”
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
If you can recognize that God is able to pick you up and turn you around, and place your feet on sold ground. Then will he incline his ear unto you and deliver you from the valley. God will save those who desire to be saved.
if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Rebellion leads tot the valley, but Recognition leads to restoration!
God will restore all of those who recognize their sins, and recognize that he is the restorer. The reconstruction of the bones is an act of Grace to restore us even after our rebellion. Restoration is not just an act of reconstructing what once was, it is also a means of reminding us what is to come. is the prophecy to the restoration of the bones in . Restoration is the reminder of the power of God that was first displayed in creation. The God who from nothing created the Heavens and the earth, and everything within, has the power to take a pile of bones and revive them in such a way that people would never know that they were ever in the valley. When God restores you, you won’t look like where you’ve been. He can reconstruct you to look even better than you did before. People might think they know what you’ve done, they know what you used to be, but what they don’t know is what God did with you and for you while you were down in the valley. When God restores you, you become a new creature. Restoration is the power of God to take that which was wrecked, and raggedy, like my life, and put it back together in such a way that people don’t even realize your struggles. That’s restoration. Restoration is the hope of men that they don’t have to stay where they are. If they desire to be lifted up and to be taken out of the valley, they have a God who is both willing and able. This leads us to some very important questions about restoration. What will God restore? Why he will restore them? How will he restore them?
This leads us to some very important questions about restoration. What will God restore? How will he restore it?
It’s important for us to understand what it is that God plans to restore to these bones. Hear me well. Restoration does not necessarily mean that a depleted bank account will all of a sudden become overflowing. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a broken relationship will be healed. God can do those things, but those things are not more important than the condition of your soul, and your relationship with him. It’s not that those things are unimportant, they are just less important than your spiritual condition. The bones, being the House of Israel, are to be restored in such a way that they will be able to walk into the destiny that God had desired for them. He restores their destiny, and he restores their relationship with him.
In verse 12 The Lord promises to bring them out of their graves and bring them into the land of Israel.
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.
Because Israel belonged to him, God didn’t allow their dirty deeds to prevent them from walking into the destiny he desired for them. Isn’t it good to know that no matter how low I stoop, the Lord will pick me up, dusty me off, and walk me into my destiny? He restores our hope and our future. Too many of us won’t come out of the valley because we don’t think that God will be able to use us once we’ve gotten dirty. But God is able to do some deep cleaning.
He is able to restore our hope for tomorrow, while at the same time restoring our relationship with him. He says after he brings the bones from the grave, he will be their God and they will be his people. The brokenness of their relationship that caused their rebellion will be fixed so that we might no longer disobey, but obey.
But why does God go to such great lengths to restore rebellious people? Obviously it isn’t because we deserve it. As a matter of fact the Lord reminds us that we don’t deserve it.
It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.
Thus says the Lord God: Because the enemy said of you, ‘Aha!’ and, ‘The ancient heights have become our possession,’
Then why does he do it? It’s not because we’ve been good, but because his name is good.
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
God restores us because is name is on the line. Not because of us, but in spite of us. He wants to show the world that he is great and greatly to be praised.
How does he accomplish this task of taking a rebel like me and reconstructing my condition and my hope? By His word, and by His Holy Spirit. It was their failure to hear the word of the Lord that made them rebellious. But hearing would be their way to restoration. Ezekiel says to the bones, “O bones, hear the word of the Lord”. Restoration, just like faith, comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. If you ever find yourself in the same situation as these bones, stop what you’re doing and do all you can to hear a word. Too many people are waiting on their situation to change but won’t make the time to hear a word. Don’t let your friends keep you out on Saturday night. You tell them y'all go ahead I got to get up in the morning to hear a word from the Lord. Because if I can just get a word in me, I know the Lord will turn it around. Don’t just hear the word, believe the word. Don’t just hear, and believe, but obey the word. The change you’ve been waiting for is coming if you can just receive a word.
Restoration isn’t complete until you’ve been revived by the spirit. The word reconstructs you, and the Spirit gives you new life. The Spirit gives you the power to follow God’s word.
Because of God’s promise to his people, the love he has for his children, and the power provided to us through his spirit. His power overcomes our rebellion and restores us. God is able to reach to the lowest valley and pick us up. No matter how bad our condition becomes, God can remove our sin, and set us back on track.
A canonical view of restoration show us that these bones being resurrected in salvation which mirrors Jesus predicting the destruction of the temple then raising it three days later. Restoration is consummated in the Gospel with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The blood he shed is applied to our bones. Glory, what a relief. No other ointment shall compare to the healing power of the blood of Jesus. It sis a stain remover, heart fixer, mind regulator, pain reliever. Have you ever been sick and in pain? So sick you didn’t want to live but so messed up you were afraid to die? The only think you wanted was relief from your condition, or the pain just to go away? The blood of Jesus is relief to our dry bones and the glue that will hold all the broken pieces together.