March 22, 2023
Thank you for praying each Wednesday for our prodigals and for revival. The ultimate purpose of prayer and of our whole lives is the glory of God. When we truly pray, it is for this one supreme reason.
The glory of the LORD/God is a key phrase in Ezekiel’s prophecy. In the Old Testament, the glory of the Lord goes back to the light that shone between the cherubim in the holiest place where the ark of the covenant rested. It was representative of God’s presence.
The book of Ezekiel opens with a vision of God’s heavenly glory (Ezekiel 1). It closes in chapters 40-48 with God’s glory on earth in the future, and the middle section describes how God’s glory was driven from the temple because of His people's sin. This is described in chapters 10 and 11.
Ezekiel was both a priest and a prophet during the 70-year exile in Babylon. In fact, he was among the first 10,000 to be deported into exile. He lived near the Chebar canal, while Daniel lived in the city of Babylon as a servant to the king.
His ministry was very difficult as he sought to serve people who were away from their homeland, living in captivity, with knowledge that all that they previously had was now destroyed.
The book is divided into three large sections: first, from chapters 1-24, prophecies against Israel; then, from chapters 25-32, prophecies of judgment against other nations; and finally, prophecies of restoration for Israel in chapters 33-48.
The book is full of visions, parables, signs, and symbols. The purpose was and is to make them and us realize that sin brings consequences, yet God is gracious and will bring restoration and renewal when repentance occurs. This is true on a nation level, church level, and in our lives individually.
One of the great illustrative stories is found in chapter 37. It’s the story of the dry bones. Dry bones that have no life. Dry bones that were scattered in the valley. Dry bones that were of no value as they were. Bones that would decay unless a miracle occurred, unless God somehow intervened.
The question is asked to Ezekiel by the LORD, “Son of man, can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3). It’s hard to imagine that a valley of dry bones could live, but God said of them, “Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live” (Ezekiel 37:5).
But for what purpose? Why would God want a valley of dry bones to live? Well, God states that these bones are the whole house of Israel (Ezekiel 37:11), and He wanted everyone to know, “I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 37:6). He deserves the worship of every heart!
Ezekiel prophesied, and there was a sound, a rattling noise. The bones came together. The femur bone to the hip bone. The hip bone to the back bone. The back bone to the neck bone, and so on, until the skeletons where perfectly fit together into human shape. The sinews, and the flesh and skin covered them. There they lay in the valley, like in a horror movie. A valley full of bodies but no movement, because there was no life.
Then it happened. God spoke again, and Ezekiel prophesied the very breath of God in the dead, dried-up corpses, and when he did, they came to life and stood upon their feet.
The message was clear. God said, “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” (Ezekiel 37:14).
This was the exact same message that Jesus brought to Nicodemus. The very same Spirit who brought life to dry bones is able to bring life to dead sinners (John 3:1-15).
This is the life that we also enjoy. According to the Apostle Paul, we have the Holy Spirit living within us as a guide to do God’s will, as a guarantee of future blessing, and also for the glory of God (Ephesians 1:11-14).
“According to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:11-12).
As we read the book of Ezekiel, we understand that God is doing something very great through helpless, needy people. When they stray, He finds them. When they persist, there are heartbreaking results. When they repent, He graciously brings them back to Himself, and uses them for His glory.
Such is the ongoing story of redemption of which we are a part.
May God encourage us to live this day in the enabling power of His Spirit and be who we are and do what we do for His glory!
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel