Can you imagine receiving an invitation to go on an afternoon drive to a valley –
Filled with dry bones?
Granted the option, I might look for an excuse to decline, but in doing so, I would miss the opportunity to see the day…
Dry bones danced!
While I have not witnessed such a sight, there is someone who did – a man named Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 37, he records how the Spirit of the Lord brought him out and set him down in a valley that was full of bones – so many that they covered the surface of the valley. As he observed these bones, Ezekiel (whose name means “the Lord strengthens”) noticed that a characteristic that was common to all of them.
They were dry bones. Withered. Dehydrated. Parched. In other words, they had been in that condition for a long time.
As he was making these observations, the Lord asked him a question, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
Curious question, right?
Ezekiel’s response was simple yet very honest. He said, “O Lord God, you know.” By this point in his life, Ezekiel had walked with the Lord for many years. During this time, he had seen and experienced the hand of God at work – sometimes in unique and mysterious ways. While he probably recognized that there was nothing he could do to make these bones come to life, his response does three things. First, he doesn’t burden God with a list of impossibilities as to dry bones cannot live. Nor does he criticize God for asking such a question. Second, he acknowledges the sovereignty of God to do what he had purposes to do. Third, Ezekiel’s response indicates that he wants to watch and see what God is going to do.
Even if it is something as impossible as making dry bones dance.
As a result, God invites Ezekiel to be a part of the extraordinary events that are about to unfold. By God’s power, the dry bones were able to hear the word of the Lord that Ezekiel would prophesy over them – the words that would bring them life.
As he is speaking the words God told him to speak, Ezekiel hears a sound – a rattling sound, which must have grown to a crescendo as he sees all the bones of the valley moving and coming together. Each bone to its bone.
This was not a haphazard dance of bones, but one that was divinely orchestrated by the hand of God. The bones did not come together in a chaotic, random fashion. As the bones moved to connect, the whole valley must have seemed to be shaking – like an earthquake. But unlike the earthquakes that cause chaos and destruction, this disruption brought about a rebuilding as bones came together –
Each bone to its bone.
As the bones approached each other, it was as if they knew which bodies they were to be partnered with. The feet bones were not connected to skulls, nor where fingers attached to the knees. The leg bone of a person five feet tall was not attached to someone who was six and one-half feet in height.
By God’s command, these bones, which were dry and void of life, could now hear and move together in a divinely inspired dance, for they had been given a promise of life by God. He did not intend to leave them as walking skeletons. Nor did he expect them to do the rebuilding themselves. God himself would add the needed muscles, cover the bodies with skin, and then give them the breath of life so that they could live.
Ezekiel 37:11 records that God told Elijah, “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.” At this point in their history, Israel was living in exile. They had been uprooted from their land, their homes, and the life they had once known. They were cut off. Their hope was gone. They were as dry bones.
Withered. Parched. Discouraged.
But then God said to them, “I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people…”
As I reflect on these verses this Easter season, I am reminded of the words Paul and Peter recorded in Ephesians 2:1, 4-6a, and 1. Peter 1:3.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live.” But then God “being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him…” Therefore, “he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
Once dead. Now alive. Once without hope. Now born into a living hope. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Thank you, Jesus!
I am also reminded that God is able to do all that he has purposed to do, even if it looks and seems impossible to me. He can make a valley of dry bones dance. In an orderly fashion, without chaos, he connects each bone to its proper place, covers them with muscles and skin, and then breathes into them the breath of life.
I consider this as I look upon the valley of my dry bones – a life that once was, but no longer and dreams that have died. Yet, instead of despair, I feel like there is a flicker of hope on the horizon. A rattling sound. Maybe, just maybe, I will get to see in my own life –
A day when dry bones dance!