By Pastor David M. Choi
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.” 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 37:1-6
Through the might of Babylon, God unleashed His judgments upon the sins of His people, Israel. The Israelites were divided and dispersed as exiles across the nations, and for a long time they wandered without a home (land), unified worship (temple), and leadership (king). In effect, the surviving remnants of Israel felt that there was no hope for their future, whereby restoration seemed like a mere pipe dream, not to mention an utter impossibility.
In light of this, God gives Ezekiel a remarkable yet horrific vision, through which he is transported to the valley of dry bones. As he looks out upon the valley, the prophet Ezekiel sees it is littered with human skeletons, serving as a sign for what Israel has now become: dry, empty, and dead. Notice the inverse relationship between calamity and hope. When calamities increase, hope decreases. When disasters are prolonged, life gradually fades out.
However, this is only half the vision! Because immediately thereafter God makes a promise to those who find themselves within the valley. By His grace, God promises He will breathe upon the dead, in order to pour into them the Spirit of new life. Indeed, God is not so much in the business of making bad people good; rather, God is in the business of making dead people alive. That’s what this vision reveals.
However, difficult circumstances usually get the better of us, don’t they? When things don’t go our way, our sinful instincts kick in. We retreat into ourselves, we rely on our own inadequate strength, and thereby we end up detaching ourselves from God. As a result, we find ourselves stuck in the valley of dry bones. Yet, the promise of God remains, now being spoken to you: “I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.”
In what areas of life do you feel like you’re spiritually dead? How is God encouraging you through His promise of new life?