"Come to Life"
Norman Cousins said the greatest tragedy in life is not that we die; it’s that something inside of us dies while we are still alive. I think we have all come across people who are, for all intents and purposes, “walking dead.” They have nothing inside of them that animates their souls. They have surrendered to the cynicism of this prevailing culture and have given up hope of anything ever getting better.
Perhaps that’s why Ezekiel’s story of the valley of dry bones is such a favorite. We love the imagery of God’s prophet going out to the local cemetery and preaching to the boneyard, only to see the Spirit of the Lord entering into those bones and transforming them into a vast army.
Again, context is important. Ezekiel was a prophet whom God had commanded to go to the exiles in Babylon and sit among them (Ezekiel 3:15). When Ezekiel did this, the despair was overwhelming. Everyone had given up hope. Ezekiel himself sensed their resignation.
But the places of despair are where God often does His best work. In obedience to God’s message, Ezekiel proclaimed God’s Word, which energized the house of Israel as nothing else could have done. God was not through with His people; He still had much for them to accomplish. Of course, none of it would take place without God’s doing. The best thing the people could do would be to wait upon God and trust in His timing.
This season involves a lot of waiting, does it not? Sometimes it seems that Christmas will never come. But it will eventually. It will come in “the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4 ESV). And when it does, the Spirit of Jesus promises to enter into all who receive Him with the light of life (John 1:4, 8:12).
Don’t give into the despair that others think inevitable. There is still so very much to live for with Jesus, and even more life to know when our time on earth is done.
Ezekiel 37:1-14 (ESV):
The Valley of Dry Bones
1 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. 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. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 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.”
7 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. 8 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. 9 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.” 10 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.
11 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.’ 12 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. 13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 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.”