Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dry Bones

There are days when I feel completely spent. Dried up. Dead.

I think Ezekiel could identify.

Ezekiel is one of my favorite Old Testament prophets. This guy has a lot going on--he's an exile from Judah, taken forcibly to live in Bablyon. Far from home. Far from the center of his religion's worship in Jerusalem. And that's a big deal, because he was from a priestly family: he was big time in the religious culture around him. And now that's all gone for him; he's miles from home, probably feeling far from God.

And then God gets a hold of him. In chapter 1 of his book he tells the story--the first of many crazy visions--of how God calls him to be a prophet. It's wild: wings, and wheels, and a windstorm, and a sovereign God watching and ruling over it all. What a comfort that must have been for him, given his surroundings!


That didn't mean life was easy for him. He's still living in exile. And being called to be a prophet wasn't exactly a picnic. God called Ezekiel to preach bizarre "sermons"--acting out the siege of Jerusalem with toy war machines and an iron frying pan, shaving all the hair off his body with a sword and scattering then it to the wind, camping out in his front yard for weeks on end. And then, in the midst of all of this going on in his life, his wife dies, and God tells him he can't even grieve her loss.

I can only imagine that he was feeling spent. Dried up. Dead.

The Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones by Gustave DorĂ©
Public Domain, accessed via Wikipedia
And then, in chapter 37, God shows him another vision--one perfect for the way the world celebrates October 31st today...

God takes Ezekiel to a valley full of bones. In my mind, I'm picturing miles and miles of dried up, dead bodies. A mountain of human remains. The Book says these bones were dry--they've been lifeless for a long time.

And God tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones, telling them that they will come to life again.

So he does.

And as he's speaking, there's a rattling as the bones come clattering out of the chaotic jumble and join up to form skeletons. Standing on their feet.

And in a scene right out of a horror movie, tendons begin to appear, muscles develop, skin grows in. In my mind I see hollow sockets filling in with glassy eyes, hair sprouting.

But no movement; no life. An army of the dead standing at the ready.

And God tells Ezekiel to call on the Breath of
Life to enter these corpses. And he does, and in comes the Spirit, and the dead are alive again.

What an amazing picture of hope! God has not left His people alone in exile. He is with them. Ezekiel is not alone. God is filling him with the Spirit, even now as he speaks.

Now, I'm no Ezekiel, but this givs me tremendous hope. On the days that I'm feeling dead and dried up, I need to read Ezekiel 37 again. And again. Or at least listen to this song by Gungor. I hope you'll give it a listen--especially if you're feeling spiritually dead today. May you feel brought back to life in the Spirit!

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