Day 28 Ezekiel 37 ... Dry Bones

It's easy to sum up the message of Ezekiel in a phrase, for the book repeats this line more than sixty times: "Then they will know that I am the Lord." Why would Jerusalem be destroyed? Why would all Judah's enemies come to a violent end? So that they would "know that I am the Lord." In a sudden change of tone, God used that same phrase to explain why he would bring about a time of future happiness.

After all the gloom, Ezekiel at last got to pronounce words of great joy and hope. In the early days, he alone had prophesied doom, and no one had listened. Then for a period of seven years he maintained a virtual silence. But now - ironically, soon after Jerusalem's destruction - he opened his mouth again, and bright words of hope issued forth.

Ezekiel experienced a sudden surge in popularity among the exiles, since he alone had predicted current events accurately. As people flocked to hear his words, he first scolded them for their unchanged hearts, but then confirmed the rumor of good news to come. Life would be restored.

No part of Ezekiel captures that message of hope more effectively, or has achieved more lasting fame, than this startling vision of the valley of dry bones. Even today, that vivid image lives on in song. Like a graveyard of scattered, bleached bones coming gloriously to life, the deadest of the dead will live.

Ezekiel's original audience was still trying to absorb the staggering news that the temple had been razed, with God apparently departed. But Ezekiel assured them God had not given up; the split kingdoms of Judah and Israel would join together again at last. God was coming back to his home, to live with his people.

The book ends with a shining vision of a new Jerusalem arising from the ruins of the old. Scholars disagree on whether Ezekiel's words apply literally, or symbolically, to the nation of Israel. But it is clear that the good news will affect the whole world. The triumphant name of that new city days it all: "And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE."

Point to Ponder: Where are you spiritually? With the dry bones? Barely stirring? Alive and well?