The Valley of Dry Bones
TEXT: Ezekiel 37:1-10
TOPIC: The Valley of Dry Bones
Pastor Bobby Earls, First Baptist Church, Center Point, Alabama
February 26, 2006
How would you react if you were summoned as the guest speaker at a social gathering where the entire congregation was corpses? (Sounds like the Sunday morning service in some Baptist church doesn’t it.)
Some people believe that when the Rapture takes place, that is, when Jesus returns and he removes His people, the church, that Baptists will be taken first in the Rapture. It’s biblical. The bible says the dead in Christ will rise first.
I did hear about one Baptist church where an elderly man had suffered a heart attack and passed out. Someone called 911 and EMTs, and an ambulance arrived. When they went in the church they had a difficult time finding the right man. They went through 6 deacons and a couple of ushers before they finally found the right guy.
I’m telling you there are an awful lot of churches out there today that start at 11:00 sharp and end at 12 o’clock flat!
Anyway, Ezekiel understood what it was like to preach to a lifeless congregation. Take your Bibles please and turn to Ezekiel chapter 37 and stand just a moment as we read a few verses from God’s holy word. Ezekiel 37.
The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. 3And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” 4Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5‘Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6“I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.” ’ ”
7So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. 9Also 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.” ’ ” 10So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
The book of Ezekiel is not one of our better known or widely read books of the Bible. That’s not true because it is an uninteresting or a difficult book. In fact, it is one of the most intriguing and challenging books of the Bible.
You know, I can imagine the scene one day when we all get to Heaven and we meet Ezekiel for the first time. Sooner or later the conversation is bound to turn to his book. Ezekiel might say something like this, “Tell me something. I’ve been living to know. How’d you like my book? And you’ll say, “Uh, your book?” And Ezekiel will same, “Yeah, you know, the one in the Old Testament that bears my name, Ezekiel? What part did you like best?”
Many modern day believers will spit, sputter and struggle to say, “Well, Zeke, ole buddy ole pal, you see the truth is (because you will half to tell the truth in Heaven) the truth is Ezekiel, ‘I never read your book.” I read a chapter or two and heard a few sermons from it, but I never got a round to it.” But don’t feel bad Zeke, I was basically a New Testament person anyway!”
Ezekiel was a young man, twenty-five years of age when he, his family, and his nation suffered one of the worst disasters a nation or people can ever experience. You see, Ezekiel was carried off as a captive of war, (a POW, Prophet of War). He was deported to the country of Babylon, 900 miles from home. This wasn’t a planned move; rather it was a vicious and forcible deportment.
The armies of Israel and Judah lay dead across the valleys and deserts of the Fertile Crescent. The men that were left alive were carried off chained together by their necks like dogs or caged as wild animals and exported pass the rotting and putrefying corpses of their once proud army.
This was the scene of Ezekiel’s day. Not a very peasant one. It was truly a dark, depressing and difficult time for all of Israel. Perhaps now we can at least respect Ezekiel enough to hear what he has to say!
Ezekiel and the rest of Israel had been in captivity for at least ten years when God gave to him this vision of the valley of dry bones. Essentially, this vision of the dry bones was given to interject hope in the midst of a hopeless situation, life in the midst of lifelessness and spiritual renewal in the midst of ruin.
The promise given to Ezekiel and the people of his day is just as true and real for us today! I believe the Christian Church today needs to experience spiritual renewal, and revival as much now as any other time in the history of the New Testament church.
Did you know that the word “revive,” means to live again, or to cause to live again? That’s what we need. That may be what you need, or your family needs.
Much like ancient Israel, we are often dejected, despondent, discouraged, disillusioned, defeated, and dead. We desperately need the breath of God to blow over us again, to revive our deadness to dynamic life once again.
What we need cannot be found in this world today. It’s not in drugs. It’s not in alcohol. It’s not in immoral living. It won’t be found in self-seeking pleasure, prestige, position, power or prosperity. It’s not of this world! It must come from above, from the sovereign hand of God. Stephen Olford says, “Speaking for our time, I see absolutely no hope outside of a mighty spiritual revival.”
So what is God saying to us through Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones?
I. A CALL TO REVIVAL, Ezekiel 37:1-4
It Involves Divine Assistance, v. 1, the hand of the Lord was upon me and carried me…
It Involves Divine Appointment, v. 1, and set me down in the midst of the valley…
It Involves Divine Assessment, v. 2, and caused me to pass by…
It Involves Divine Assignment, v. 4, prophesy to these bones…
Listen, those God calls He also equips!
II. A CONCERN FOR REVIVAL, Ezekiel 37:3
3And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”
God offered Ezekiel a part in revival. Ezekiel had enough common sense to know that bones bleached white by the desert sun were dead. Yet he also had enough spiritual sense to know that with God, all things are possible!
The Reverend Duncan Campbell, the man God used to lead the Hebrides Islands to Revival in 1949 said, “I personally believe in the Sovereignty of God in the affairs of men, but I do not believe in any concept of revival that eliminates man’s responsibility. God is the God of revival, but we are His instruments, His agents through which revival is possible.” God offers us a part in revival as well.
Ezekiel’s concern was a valley of dry bones! Do we have a concern for any dry bones at First Baptist Center Point?
III. A COURSE FOR REVIVAL, , Ezekiel 37:4-10
A. It begins in Prayer, (God will do nothing but in answer to prayer!)
B. It continues through Preaching, the foolishness of preaching, faith comes by hearing,
C. It consummates through the Spirit, “Breath” wind, spirit, breath of God
IV. THE CONSEQUENCES OF REVIVAL, , Ezekiel 37:10
10So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
A. Renewal, , Ezekiel 37:12
“Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
B. Restoration, , Ezekiel 37:13-14
13“Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14“I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’ ”
Three valleys we fear the most:
- The Valley of the Immensely Wealthy
- The Valley of the Extremely Poor
- The Valley of the Immorally Sinful