5th Sunday in Lent – 3/29/2020
Reading: Ezekiel 37:1–14
Resurrected by a Certain Hope
Explore Ezekiel's vision of the valley of dry bones and find enduring hope through resurrection and eternal victory in Jesus Christ.
Reflecting on the Old Testament passage assigned for the 5th Sunday in Lent—Ezekiel chapter 37—we find Ezekiel's account of a vision wherein God leads him through a valley filled with countless dried-up bones, symbolizing hopelessness and death. However, God's command to prophesy over these bones reveals His power to resurrect even the dead. This vision holds profound meaning for us today, igniting hope in the midst of our own struggles. Let's delve into this passage and explore the timeless message it carries.
The Valley of Dry Bones
Ezekiel describes a vision wherein God shows him a valley brimming with dry bones—lifeless and devoid of hope. Whether this vision was a physical experience or a prophetic trance is uncertain, but its significance goes beyond the physicality of the bones. This scene, reminiscent of battlefields strewn with discarded bones, paints a grim picture—a stark reminder of the spiritual condition of God's people.
Preaching to the Lifeless
God poses a question to Ezekiel: "Son of man, can these bones live?" Acknowledging God's omnipotent authority, Ezekiel wisely defers to Him, knowing that only God can breathe life. God then commands Ezekiel to prophesy over the dry bones, speaking the word of the Lord to them. Although this act may have seemed futile, akin to preaching to empty pews, Ezekiel obeys, understanding that God's word has the power to bring life even to the lifeless.
The Power of God's Word
The spoken word of the Lord, uttered through Ezekiel, brings about a profound transformation. The bones rattle and assemble themselves, covered with sinews, flesh, and skin. This awe-inspiring sight demonstrates the miraculous power of God's word to resurrect and revive the dead. However, despite their physical restoration, the bodies lack life. Just as God breathed life into the first man, He commands Ezekiel to prophesy again, calling upon the breath to enter these lifeless bodies. As Ezekiel obeys, the breath enters them, and they come alive, forming an immense army.
Hope Amid Desolation
Imagine the impact of witnessing such a resurrection—the dead brought back to life, fully restored and ready for battle. This spectacle of victory over death stirs the imagination. Though we face our own challenges, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this vision instills hope. It reminds us that through God's word, He brings life to the spiritually dead. By believing in Jesus Christ, we can experience the same resurrection and eternal victory.
The Dry Bones of Today
Beyond the immediate crisis, we must recognize the spiritual desert we currently inhabit. Apart from the present afflictions, our world is plagued by spiritual dryness. Society embraces self-centeredness, materialism, and disobedience, disregarding God's Word. Genuine godliness is scarce, and the appearance of godliness often masks a denial of its true power. In these last days, as foretold by Jesus, difficulties abound, and humanity is trapped in a spiritual decline.
Reviving the Dead
God directs Ezekiel's prophecy towards the people of Israel, who have forsaken their covenant with Him. Divided and exiled, they are spiritually dead. However, God, in His grace, uses Ezekiel's words to revive them, offering hope and a promise of restoration. This prophecy extends beyond ancient Israel, reaching us under the New Covenant. It foretells the gathering of God's people, the forgiveness of sins, and the establishment of a spiritual kingdom under the reign of the good shepherd, Jesus Christ.
The Power of Jesus' Prophecy
Jesus' words possess the power to resurrect and restore. Through His sacrifice, He conquers sin and death, offering hope for eternal victory. His prophecy, the gospel, breathes life into our weary souls. Amidst sin, pandemics, and uncertainty, His victory assures us that our exile will end, and we will stand before God in His holy presence. His resurrection serves as a guarantee, igniting hope in our bodies as well, knowing that our decaying flesh will be raised on the last day.
The Certainty of Hope
Jesus declares that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life and will be raised on the last day. His words hold true, granting us hope even amidst tribulations. Through the proclamation of His victory, the Holy Spirit breathes life into the spiritually dead, bestowing new birth through baptism, and lifting us from death to life. The Spirit testifies to Jesus, giving us assurance and reviving our hope.
The vision of the valley of dry bones reveals God's power to bring life to the lifeless. This timeless message instills hope, assuring us that through faith in Jesus Christ, we will experience resurrection and eternal victory. Though our world may be spiritually barren, we have the promise of restoration and the presence of the Holy Spirit, who breathes life into our souls through the proclamation of God's Word. As we face challenges and uncertainties, let us hold fast to the certainty of hope, knowing that our Savior has conquered sin and death, and His resurrection is a testament to our future resurrection. Live in hope and be at peace. Amen.