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Reviving Dry Bones

Scripture: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Date: 03/18/2000 
This sermon focuses on a vision of Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones. Dry bones indicate no hope for revival. But there is life in our bones. Ezekiel preached the word where there was life. God wants to raise up an army, people revived and living for Jesus.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Well it’s good to see each of you. It’s really been a thrill to see all the involvement and the visual evidence we have of a revitalized youth program here at Central. I’m very, very excited and thankful. And glad to have our visitors, glad to have those who are here with the elementary school. And the choir and the bell team did a very good job. Always gives you a little foretaste of heaven when you hear a bell choir. Please turn with me in your Bibles to Ezekiel 37. I’ve never preached on this subject before. It’s the vision of the valley of dry bones. I think we’ve talked about it once at prayer meeting and I survived that and thought, “I’d like to share this with the church someday.”

I’d like to read with you, if you could bear with me, verses 1-14. And then we’ll back up and we’ll see what we can learn from this passage as we explore it from different angles. Ezekiel 37:1 reviving dry bones. “And the hand of the Lord came upon me, and brought me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley and it was full of bones, and he caused me to pass by them all around: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, indeed, they were very dry. And he said to me, Son of man, can these bones live? So I answered, O Lord God, you know. Again he said to me, Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones; Surely, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live: And I will put sinew upon you, and bring flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; then you shall know that I am the Lord. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to bone.

Indeed as I looked, the bones, the sinew, the flesh came upon them, and skin covered over them: but there was no breath in them. 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. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then he said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: they, indeed, say, Our bones are dry, and our hope is lost: and we ourselves are cut off. Therefore prophesy and say to them, Thus says the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up from the graves, I will put my spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land: then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and performed it, says the Lord.” That’s the vision of the valley of dry bones.

Now there are several things we can learn from this passage that we find in the book of Ezekiel. This is a prophecy first and foremost that was given while Ezekiel; incidentally, Ezekiel, the word means God will strengthen. That’s what his name means. He was a prophet and a priest who was among the captives. He was a contemporary with the prophet Daniel when they were carried away to Babylon. He prophesied somewhere between 600 and 570 BC, between 600 and 570 BC. First of all, of course, he’s speaking to the children of Israel. You know the Israelites had been scattered among the 10 tribes and they were all but lost. Then you’ve got the children of Judah who had been conquered by the Babylonians and they were dispersed. And it looked like they’re hope was gone and they would never again come into their land. It looked like they were dead as a nation. They no longer had a king on the throne. They no longer had an army. And this vision was to give them hope that He would revive them as a nation. Of course, I think everybody here knows this vision is telling us that God can resurrect dead bones; that He can give life to that which is dead and inanimate. It’s not only dealing with Israel and the subject of the resurrection, but this prophecy talks about what God’ll do for the church. For us, He can revive us.

Revive the dry bones and turn us into an army. Fill us with His Spirit. And then it speaks to us individually. And I’ll probably spend a little more time dealing with that aspect. Now you know I like to utilize the benefits of visual aids when I teach. Sometimes it helps to impress a point. I’d like to thank Dr. Overfield for; the one who is in the yellow shirt is Dr. Overfield, for helping us. You know at the last minute he was able to muster up one of his associates to help us illustrate this. Now I’m not going to be clowning. I want to be using this to illustrate some very practical things that we can learn from bones. And I want to assure everybody, you know the Bible says that human bones are unclean. These are plastic. So some of you, if you had the heebie-jeebies you don’t need to worry about that now. It will still serve to illustrate. Now picture if you will for a minute, here you’ve got Ezekiel who’s not only a prophet of God, but he’s a priest. And God raptures him in vision just like He did John in Revelation. He’s carried off in the spirit and suddenly he’s taken to this valley. Now keep in mind that the lowest valley in the world is in the Promise Land. You’ve got the Jordan valley and especially down by the Dead Sea is the lowest spot on earth, somewhere around 1300 feet below sea level. And he’s taken to one aspect of this valley somewhere. Maybe it was down in the very low part, down by where Sodom and Gomorrah used to be. And everywhere, on every side there are bones. Not just bones, they’re the bones of men.

Obviously dead men. And it says there are very many. And when the Bible says very many you’ve got to know that it means there’s a lot of dead bones. Talk about Death Valley, he is surrounded with the bones of the slain. Now keep in mind in Bible times when they were defeated in battle they did not have a hazard waste crew or sanitary crew that came up behind and had formal ceremonies. You know a lot of times after a battle they would strip the valuables from the slain and there were places where there had been serious battles where for years afterward, until the beasts of carrion completely scattered the bones and the elements covered them up, where there were valleys and fields and hillsides that were covered with bones. And so this image was not all just an abstract concept. They lived in a time where there were places you could find valleys of bones. Where the slain enemy had been overwhelmed and there was no one to bury them.

The Bible tells us there’s a day coming when the Lord comes and for 1,000 years the surface of the earth is going to be all convoluted and destroyed. The Bible says the earth is going to look like a wilderness; the cities will be broken down. There’s no living man; “The slain of the Lord will be in that day from one end of the earth to the other,” and nobody will be there to lament, to mourn, or to bury. And someday this world’s going to be a valley of dry bones that will someday come to life. So this image actually has a lot of relevance in the Bible. Ezekiel, poor guy, having to be placed in the midst of this valley. And then you notice it said there, “And the Lord caused me to pass through them.” And he’s walking around, you know, knee deep in the bones of dead men. And that would render anybody, especially a priest, unclean. You can image how objectionable that must have been, even in vision, for Ezekiel to be surrounded with these bones.

Now what kind of bones were they? You notice it says they were, “very dry.” This is emphasizing there wasn’t any hope of life. You know you can take a grape stalk and you know you can cut it and it can last a few days without any water and you could then plant that grape stalk in some water and some moist soil and you could raise up new grape vines from cuttings. How many of you know that? You can do that. We’ve got some grape vines at our ranch in the hills there and we started with just some stalks and they looked dead to me, but there was still a little moisture inside and you plant them and they kind of spring back to life. Of course you know that a seed can be dead and dry for sometimes hundreds of years. I understand that they did some excavating in England and in a peat bog they found some lily seeds that are very small that had been there they estimate thousands of years and they dried them and they planted them and they bloomed and it produced a lily that there’s nothing like it in the world. Evidently it had become extinct. But the life kernel was kept somehow in that seed and it lived again. But you can’t stick a dry bone in the water like an avocado seed.

I feel bad because Karen put; how many of you have ever taken an avocado seed, you stick three toothpicks in it, you kind of set it in one; let me see your hands. How many of you ever ate fruit from that experiment? Nobody ever eats from those. You’re laughing because you know it’s true. Karen, bless her heart, she loved this avocado seed and she nurtured it and she watered it and she put the toothpicks in it and it sprang up. And while we were gone somewhere, New York, someone came and took care of our avocado seed for us and it flourished. And pretty soon it looked; it was about this tall and it had several broad leaves on it. And I finally said, “Dear, it’s probably time to plant it.” So I thought I’d do her a favor and one day I was feeling industrious and I took the avocado seed sapling out and planted it in some moist soil. I guess they only live when they’re seeds. When they’re sitting with toothpicks. As soon as you take out the toothpicks they die. But the poor thing, it started dying and she said, “It’s getting too much light or too much,” and she brought it back inside and now we’ve got this poor dilapidated.

She’s very optimistic. In any event, but you know you can do that with an avocado seed. But you can take a dry bone and I can guarantee you take something like this and suppose, this is plastic, but suppose this was a human bone. You could plant it and water it for a hundred years; it’s never going to come back to life. So this is a symbol in the Bible of something that is dead and a situation that is looking very hopeless. Sorry, Mike. I’m sure it’s not the first time it’s been dropped. Don’t want to break its bones. You know there’s some things we can learn from bones. First of all, are you aware that the Bible says that bones give life? Bones give life. Everything was made in the world by the word of the Lord except man. God when He made man He put together the clay and He made man out of the elements of clay. He formed him and he spoke life into him. But when God made woman what did He use? Created life from the rib, from the bone. And incidentally, there’s one of these urban myths that says that men have more ribs than women. How many of you have heard that? Oh, men have one less than women because of the creation.

That’s not true. Doctors, isn’t that right? That’s just a myth? Isn’t’ that right, Mike? Yeah, that’s a myth. I want to just make sure that I’m not embarrassing myself in front, but I’ve heard that before that, “Men have one less and that proves…” No, they all have the same number of ribs. But God did make life from a bone. How many of you remember this story that you find in II Kings 13? Elisha the prophet, not Elijah, Elisha, who was filled with a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, was so spirit filled that he was able to give life even after he was dead. Now Elijah resurrected someone during his life and Elisha someone during his life and Jesus resurrected many during His life. But the only person who resurrected somebody during his death was Elisha. You ever think about that? II Kings 13:20, “Then Elisha died, and they buried him.” And while they were getting ready to conduct the service and they’re burying his remains. Let me back up here. “And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the raiding bands of Moab invaded the land in the spring of the year.

So it was, as they were burying a man,” some friends there in Israel were performing a ceremony for one of their friends and they’re carrying his remains out to bury him, “they spied a band of Moabite raiders;” they’re on horseback these land pirates that are going and ransacking the countryside. And they had to get out of there fast or they’d be victims. So they didn’t know what to do. They didn’t want to be disrespectful of their friend they were burying, but they had to run for their lives. And so the Bible says, “As they were burying the man, they spied a band of raiders; and they put the man in the tomb of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood on his feet.” Now they were twice as scared, right? They placed this man on the bones of Elisha and he came back to life. Which goes to tell you that you can even give life after you’re gone. I know King David was thinking about his posterity and he made great provision after, so that after he was gone that people would be able to build the temple of the Lord. You can I need to think about not only what happens to us while we’re here, but that our influence after we are gone will give life. Have you thought about that? Your influence will live on after you. Just as surely as Elisha’s did. Bones give life.

How many of you have heard that story; now I’m doing this from memory so I hope I get it right. There was this family and their daughter contracted a form of leukemia that would ultimately be terminal if she did not get a bone marrow transplant. But she had an unusual blood type. Very hard to find a donor. So they did something that was almost unbelievable. It was an older couple. They decided to have another child. Things were somewhat complicated because the man had already had a vasectomy. So he had a procedure to reverse that, which is very iffy in itself. Then they were praying they could have another child. Then after a few years their daughter would be alive and they could use this child, who they hoped would have the same rare blood type that comes from the two parents that had an unusual blood type, and then would be able to provide a bone marrow transplant for her older sister. It worked. How many of you remember hearing this story?

It was on Net ’98 and it was in Reader’s Digest about this family. Husband and wife decided to have another child that would give life to her older sister and it turned out that the surgery worked and they were able to conceive again and they gave birth to a baby that had the appropriate blood type. And after a few years she then provided enough bone marrow, from the hip I suppose, to give a transplant that saved her sister’s life. Life in the bones. Now you know the Bible tells us that the life is in the blood. But where does the blood come from? The blood comes from the bones, doesn’t it? Now I have found something interesting on that. The marrow in your bones produces blood. I read this week when I was studying on the subject of bones and blood and marrow that your bones if you’re healthy produce enough blood to completely your whole body’s supply in four weeks. All of the marrow in a baby’s bones produces blood. As you get older the arms and the fingers and the legs cease to produce blood. But the skull and the hip and the ribs and some of those other closer arrangements do continue to produce blood for those of us that are adults. There’s life in the bones. The Bible has a lot to say about that subject. The average man has 66 pounds of muscle and 40 pounds of bone (and 3 ½ pounds of brain which explains a lot of things). Notice what it says here, Ezekiel 37:2, “And he caused me to pass by them all around: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, indeed, they were very dry.” You remember when Samson was attacked by the Philistines? What did he use to save his life? The jawbone.

What kind of bone was it? It said, “a new.” You ever catch that word? If it was an old, brittle dry jawbone it would have cracked. But the new jawbone of a donkey is very firm and very hard and very strong. Your bones, those of you who have healthy bones, are very strong. They can take a lot of strain, a lot of stress. And you know they’re discovering that exercise you would think would weaken the bones actually strengthens the bones and makes them more resilient and less brittle. I John 5:12. Now I want you to notice something here. What is death a symbol of in the Bible? These dry bones are as dead as a person can get. What is death a symbol of? I John 5:12, “He that has the Son has life; he that hath not the Son of God has not life.”

If a person does not have Jesus your bones, spiritually speaking, are bleached, white and dry. You have no life. Luke 9:60, “Jesus said to him, Let the dead bury their own dead: but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” You remember this story? A man said, “Lord, I want to follow you, but first I need to go bury my father.” And what did Jesus say? “Let the dead bury the dead.” First time I read this I thought, I had these pictures in my mind of zombies conducting a funeral service. But what is death a symbol of? Spiritually dead. Ephesians 2:1, I want to emphasize this. “And you he has made alive,” he’s revived, “who were dead in trespasses and sins.” If sin still reigns in our lives, if sin still has the dominion, if we’re still controlled by a life of sin we are spiritually what? We’re spiritually dead. We are the dry bones. Now this is important for you to grasp this because I’m going to talk about how to revive the dry bones, but first we’ve got to know what the dry bones are. One of the things it represents is you and me. When we’re lost, when we’re still captive to our sins we are dead dry bones. But the hope in this story is that God can revive dry bones. Amen? Luke 15:24, “For this my son was dead,” the father said of the Prodigal son, “he was dead, and he’s alive again; he was lost, and he’s found.”

When was he dead? When was the Prodigal dead? When he was out living this riotous life. Spiritually he was dead. And then finally it tells us here in I Timothy 5:6, “But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.” And of course it’s not just talking about she, but anybody who lives for the pleasures of this life is spiritually dead dry bones. The good news, I John 3:14, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He that does not love his brother abides in death.” So one of the ways that we understand what this valley of dry bones represents is if we’re living in sin, if we don’t love each other we are spiritually dead and lifeless. Now God says something to Ezekiel. He says, “Son of man, can these bones live?” Why do you think God asked that question? First of all, does God ever ask a question because He’s bewildered, because He’s been stumped? When God said to Adam at the very beginning, “Where are you?” was it because God misplaced him? What does it mean when God asks questions? Do you remember when Jesus asked the apostles, Mark 9:33, “And when he was in the house he asked them, What was it you disputed among yourselves by the way?” He was asking the disciples, “What were you talking about on the road?” Was it because Christ was puzzled, He didn’t know?

Or He wanted them to think about it? You remember when John is in his vision and there in chapter 7, after he sees the 144,000, one of the elders, you know the 24 elders around the throne of God, he comes to John and he says, “Who are these arrayed in white robes?” Did the elder know who they were? Yes, he did. You know sometimes in the Bible God uses what we call the Socratic method. That’s because Socrates, the philosopher, used to teach by asking questions. He did not originate that method. God teaches by asking questions. How many of you parents have done that with your children? You ask them questions because you don’t want to just dictate everything they’re supposed to think. You want them to use their brains and so you question them to arouse their processes, get them to think and analyze. And so God says to Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones live again?” He said, “Lord, you know.” “You know everything.”

What would the evidence of your senses be? Probably not much more likely than this plastic model coming back to life. In and of itself, dead dry bones don’t come back to life, do they? I mean sometimes you might see somebody that’s been hit by a car and they’re lying there still. And you might think, “Perhaps there’s hope. You know, the body’s all there and maybe I could do a little CPR and a little respiratory resuscitation there and revive the person.” But if you just saw a skeleton lying in the road, how many of you would do CPR? Would anybody do mouth to mouth? You think, “It’s dead bones. There’s not much hope.” What is God trying to emphasize to us in this story? What may look hopelessly dead to you and me, nothing is too hard for the Lord. Have you known people that you thought, “Well, you know, I pray for people to be saved, but this person, I’m not even going to pray.” Too far lost to be found. What does the Bible say? What did the angel say to Mary when she says, “But I don’t know a man.”? He said, “Nothing is impossible with God.” And then Jesus said when they said, “Can a rich man be saved?”

He said, “It’s hard, but with God all things are possible.” The Bible is saying that without Christ we can’t do anything, but through Christ all things are possible. God never wants us to lose faith that He can give life. Amen? Even though it might appear that the situation is hopeless. So God asks questions. Where does the life come from? Where did the life come from in our story? The Bible says that God said to Ezekiel, “Son of man, prophesy to these bones.” Now you know there’s been days I preach where I felt like I was prophesying to a valley of dry bones. I didn’t think I was going to get any kind of reaction from the audience. But if you walked down the street one day and you saw a preacher standing on a box preaching to something like this what would you think? You’d go make a phone call, right? He’s a menace to society. You’d think he’s wasting his time. No one’s listening. No one’s home. You know they’ve got all these ways of saying: the elevator doesn’t go to the top, the light’s on, but no one’s home. My son has another way of putting it. He says, “He’s a couple of fries short of a happy meal.” Not listening. But God’s word is so powerful we sometimes forget that the word of God can speak matter from nothing. So if God’s word can bring matter out of nothing and if God can make a man out of clay, He can make a woman out of a rib then don’t lose hope that you can preach to bones and get life. God’s word is so potent; it’s so powerful that it gives life. Whenever the Lord speaks things happen.

You know the Bible tells us that Christ said to the leper, “Be thou clean,” and he was clean. He said to a man who hadn’t walked in 38 years, “Get up and walk,” and he walked. What made it possible? Because when God speaks things happen. There is inherent power in the word of God and so when God commanded him. Now if Ezekiel of his own volition had decided to preach to the bones he would have had no more reaction than me trying to get a response from our friend here. But when God commissioned him to speak did something happen? Now I always wished there could be someone other than me to say this. But since I’m the one up here I’m always stuck saying it. I believe that the Lord speaks through pastors. Some maybe more than others. I believe the Lord speaks through pastors sometimes in spite of their own degree of commitment. You listening? I’ve been in churches before where I maybe didn’t feel very spiritual, I didn’t feel very committed, I’ve preached and then people at the door say, “You know, I’ve been praying about something and today the Lord answered my prayer through something you said.” I don’t even know what I said. But I believe when a person stands in the position where they are prophesying, they open the word of God and God is speaking through them, that’s a sacred office. And wonderful things happen.

Are you aware the Bible tells us that the high priest who was in power when Jesus was condemned, his name was Caiaphas, he uttered a prediction. He said to them, “Do you know nothing at all, but that it’s expedient that one man should perish rather than the whole nation?” And John, in his gospel commenting on that, he adds this little explanation there. He says, “This he prophesied not realizing that he was uttering a prophetic truth because he was the high priest.” And that high truth was that this man, Christ, was going to die to save the nation, spiritual Israel. There was an element of truth. Do you think that that man who was going to be guilty for the blood of Jesus was a godly converted man? No, but by virtue of his office God was still able to speak through him. I used to wonder a few years ago when they had this; several evangelists began to fall like dominoes. And I heard a lot of folks saying, “Oh, but brother so-and-so seemed so spirit filled and I know several people that gave their hearts to the Lord under his ministry.” And yet while he was ministering it became obvious he was living in sin.

God can speak through a donkey. And so when a person stands and they open God’s word and God commands them to speak the power is in the word. It’s not the instrument, per se. See what I’m saying? There’s inherent power in the word and the Bible promises, “My word will not return void. It will accomplish that for which I sent it.” So God tells Ezekiel to start preaching to these bones. And there’s power in the life(?). John 6:63 Jesus is speaking. He said, “It’s the spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and there is life.” There’s something vital in the word of God. When Jesus said, “Lazarus, come forth.” I remember hearing one pastor commenting on that saying, “If Jesus had not specified, ‘Lazarus, come forth,’ every grave in the world would have opened up. Because the word of Christ is so powerful that if He had simply said, ‘Come forth,’ everybody sleeping around the world would have been resurrected.”

Because it’s the power of the living Son of God. But He specified who was to come forth then and it was Lazarus. God’s word can give life. Notice what else it says here in Ezekiel 37:7 & 9. It says, “So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied,” in other words he’s preaching to the bones the words that were in the earlier verses, “there was a noise, and a rattling.” Incidentally, if you’re not catching this very simple point. When you preach the truth it’s going to cause a rattling. Things are going to happen. There’s going to be activity. Sometimes it arouses persecution. Sometimes it arouses opposition. But can you imagine him; he’s standing out there in this valley knee-deep in bleached white bones and very many. Thousands and thousands of bones. And keep in mind, they’re not as connected as our friend here. They’re scattered all over the place. We had an accident up on our land a number of years ago and somebody left a mule with us to watch for one day. Well we had to leave town and I asked my friend, John, if he would go tie off the mule. And my friend, Dale, was coming to get the mule in the morning.

Well John was from the city. He knew nothing about horses and mules and he tied the mule, tied his halter to a tree limb on a hillside. Well you don’t do that because if the horse slips they hang themselves and they can’t get back up again because when their heads are like this it becomes very hard for them to negotiate their balance. And that’s what happened. And when I was in southern California Dale called. He said, “You killed the mule.” I said, “What?!” He said, “You tied it on a hillside and it’s dead.” Have you ever tried to have a formal service for a dead mule? We didn’t know exactly what to do. We, after getting home it was already beginning to succumb to the elements and you could smell it a long way off. And I had no heavy equipment or anything back then to move it. And so we left it there. And eventually the bears came and the coyotes came and the vultures came. It was amazing to me how they were able to just disconnect this whole assembly of mule bones and scatter them over hundreds of yards. My point being that, I’ve got several points I’d like to make right here. The bones were not connected.

These bones had been in the open field. They’re bleached they’d been there a long time. They had been under the ravages of the animals of carrion and they were all scattered. The knee bone was not connected to the hipbone. I guess it never is, is it? I did that wrong. I don’t know that song, but you know what I’m talking about. What’s that song? Them Bones, Them Bones. They weren’t’ where they were supposed to be. There’s a song that goes along with this sermon, but I’m not going to sing it for you because I don’t know it, obviously. And I’d probably get the ankle and the skull together. In any event, he begins to preach and there’s a rattling and bones begin to fly everywhere. Now the only person that wanted to be in that situation was a dog.

Ezekiel wasn’t very happy. That was a dog’s dream come true to be in this valley of bones. But Ezekiel was probably ducking because now there’s a rattling, there’s a noise and bones all begin to fly and to find their originals and to become connected. You know some people are concerned about how their remains are dealt with. Well let me just do a survey. If you don’t mind sharing, you don’t have to participate. You might want to turn a camera around and get this, those in the studio. I’ve never done this before, but I’m just wondering to get an idea. How many of you have no problem with the idea of cremation? You could either give it or take it. Raise your hands. Let me see your hands.

Side two…he would much prefer to be buried as complete as possible in the ground. Let me see your hands. Hold your hands up. It’s a pretty fair representation. How many don’t’ care, whatever the specials are that’s what you’re going for? Some people are really edgy about the idea of being cremated and when I talk to them about it. My brother, he was the opposite. He said, “Whatever you do promise,” you know he died of a terminal disease and he said, “Promise me you wont’ put me in a box.” He was terrified with the idea that he was going to get buried alive and wake up in the box. Or some how if he was to be resurrected or reincarnated (my brother wasn’t sure what he believed) he’d start out in a box. And he had heard these horror stories about having to exhume and move cemeteries and they found these coffins that were clawed inside; they buried people alive. And so he said, “Promise me you won’t bury me.” And he was cremated.

Other people are just as scared that if they’re cremated and their ashes are scattered that God will not be able to reassemble them. This is true. You’ve probably met people like that. They said, “No, no, no. God’s not going to find all the parts. He’ll give up.” You get all the bones and, you know, at least you have something to start with. But, friends, are you aware that if you leave even the bones out long enough they turn back into the elements of the earth? “Ashes unto ashes; dust unto dust.” And all that cremation does is accelerate the process really when you think about it. But I have no burden to change your mind on that. Something else I think you ought to consider. And I’m taking a little sidetrack here. Those who teach that we’ve all evolved from lower forms of life, that don’t believe in creation, they don’t believe in the biblical flood, they’re never able to supply a good explanation for why so many of these fossil specimens that they find are complete. All the bones are together. Not all of them, but so many of them.

They were buried instantly and there was not time for these animals of carrion to scatter the bones. And that tells us that is was quickly covered with mud and that’s one of the ways you get a fossil. Well it says that the prophet prophesied, “Thus says the Lord God;” verse 9, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they might live.” On the four winds. Matthew 24:31, this sounds like the resurrection of the great last day. “And he will send his angels with the sound of a trumpet.” Now what happens at that trumpet? Is there a resurrection? When the Lord descends and the trumpet sounds? “He’ll send his angels with the sound of a trumpet, and they’ll gather together his elect from the four winds.” Are you aware that about 10% of everything Jesus says He’s quoting the Old Testament prophets? And I believe this is one of the places where the Lord, from one end of heaven to the other, was quoting that. Acts 2 when God poured out the Spirit. “Suddenly there came a sound from heaven as a rushing mighty wind,” there’s a sound, “and it filled the whole house…and they were filled with the Spirit.” Acts 4:31, “When they prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken.” When God gives life sometimes there’s noise. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”

Now, after he prophesied and the bones all began to fly together and the bones came together in their appropriate positions and the ankle was connected with the leg and the leg was with the hip and the pelvis and the ribs and everything was in its order and he continued to prophecy. And then it says sinew and tendons all began to take place. And he said, “Put flesh upon them,” the muscle and the skin was then put in position. And you notice that God is doing things in an order. Now keep in mind when we talk about reviving dry bones we’re not just talking about this vision. We’re not talking just about Israel and the resurrection day. We’re also talking about reviving the church and reviving us individually. God works through process. How many remember the story in the Bible where a man was blind and Jesus wanted to open his eyes? The Lord made some mud and He put the clay on the man’s eyes and he opened his eyes and he says, “He saw men as trees walking.” He saw men as trees walking. And then Jesus did something further and then He saw clearly. And some have wondered, “What, did the Lord lose the recipe?

How come He couldn’t get it right the first time? Was this a mistake? Why did it happen this way?” Well you know why? I think the Lord did it deliberately. I believe everything God does there’s a reason. When the Lord opens our eyes spiritually sometimes it doesn’t happen all at once, does it? Sometimes it involves a process. When the Lord revives us as individuals it may not happen all at once like it did with Paul on the road to Damascus. Sometimes it involves a process. You notice that there’s steps and the steps have an order to them. God did not say, “Let’s put all the flesh together. Now let’s see if we can squeeze the bones inside the skin. Now let’s put the muscle on the outside.” That would have been backwards, right? That would have been hideous. God did things in their order. You know your bones are part of your frame. I like the way Solomon words it in Ecclesiastes. He is talking about the miracle of life and he says, “Who can tell how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child?” You know think about it and we know that tumors can grow. But you wonder how do bones grow inside?

That’s just such a miracle that this frame for another human life. You know what would happen if you lost all your bones? Try it and find out. No, that’s what holds you up. Incidentally, a little tip. How many people have back problems, your lower back often hurts? You may not want to share. You know why we have a lot of problems with backache in North America? You’ve got one bone, now I’m kind of getting away from my subject, but this may be valuable. You’ve got one bone right here that supports your whole upper torso weight. If your abdominal muscles and your lower back muscles are not strengthened through exercise what bears the weight of the whole upper body? The lower back. And a lot of people have pain in their lower back because of the inactivity.

The muscles are not supporting the upper frame and all of it rests upon the bone. Your bone is your frame. It’s not only there to protect the vital organs, but this is the helmet that God’s given us to protect the Holy of Holies, where the Lord abides and He speaks to us. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Can you say Amen? So he’s got everything in place, but they’re lying there as surely as Adam was lying there before the Lord and the Lord formed Adam, but there was no life. Veins were in place, blood was in the veins, bones were in place, the organs were all there, brain was in the head, but it wasn’t thinking. The lungs were not breathing; the heart was not beating, but everything’s in its proper position. You know it’s; one of the hard things about being a pastor’s when you do a funeral. And every now and then they have an open casket. And on a couple of occasions I’ve conducted funerals for young people that died suddenly from some unexpected heart failure. And you know the family’s filing by the casket and it is so disconcerting because they look like they should be alive. They’re not injured. It’s not like they got old and wrinkled and dilapidated.

Pardon me, those of you who fit that description. They look vigorous. They look like they’re sleeping. And you think, “I wish I could flip a switch. They’re missing that spark of life.” Well that’s the way it was for Adam before God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. And that’s the way it was. Now Ezekiel is surrounded not with a valley of bones. Now he is surrounded with an army of corpses. Very good-looking corpses, but they’re corpses nonetheless. And that describes some churches. Some churches everything’s in place, but they have no spiritual life. Outwardly they look really good. They think they’re rich and increased with goods, but they do not have the breath of life. The Bible says, “But there was no breath in them.” Now that word breath is ruach and it’s the word that’s translated spirit. God breathed into Adam the breath of life. “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and they stood upon their feet, an exceeding great army.” You notice they’re not transformed into a congregation. God gives them life to fight. They become an army. Why does God give us life, spiritual life?

It’s because we become soldiers in His army. Amen? We come to the Lord, He breathes the breath of life, then we go for the Lord. The Bible says, “The Spirit comes like wind,” John 3:8. It was part of our scripture reading that Alexis did so well with. “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but you cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the spirit.” We need that new birth, amen? Zechariah 4:6, “He answered and said to me, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord.” You can have everything in its place, you could have a whole church organized, you could have your life all organized, you could have perfect health, but if you don’t have the Spirit of God you’re dead. And here there was all these soldiers lying there, but they were inanimate until God breathed into them. John 20:21-22 you remember before Jesus went to heaven He gave them a little sample of the outpouring of Pentecost?

He said, “Peace to you: as the Father has sent me, I also send you. When he said this, he breathed on them, and said, Receive the Holy Spirit.” That same breath that God breathed into Adam to give him life now He breathes into the church and gives them life. And why does He do this? He says, “So send I you,” and then He gives them the power to go. He breathes on them. He gave them a little sample of what was later going to come at Pentecost. You know it also says in Ezekiel 36, just before this whole story, the new covenant, “I will put a new spirit within you,” “I’ll give you a new heart.” The Bible tells us that healthy blood produces healthy bones and bones produce healthy blood. Proverbs 16:24, “Pleasant words are like honeycomb, sweetness to the soul, and health to the bones.” Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones.” You know I want to stop right here for a moment. We do pretty good at covering up our dry bones. Some of us know what I’m talking about. We’ve got some dry bones in our lives. Some of us, our marriage has dry bones. We’ve got dry bones in our relationships.

Some of us have bank accounts that are dry bones. Some o us, our health is dry bones. And the message in this story for you is that God can give new life to the dry bones. God can breath vitality through His Spirit and through His word into your lives. You know I think it’s interesting to remember while we’re talking about bones that the bones of Jesus give life. They were not to be broken. You remember the Passover lamb that was a type of Christ? It says, “It will be eaten in one house. You’ll not carry any of it outside, nor shall you break even one of its bones.” In one of the Messianic Psalms, Psalm 22:17, there David says, “I can count all my bones,” they’re all in place. Psalm 34 again it says, “He guards all of his bones, not one of them is broken.” And then of course you remember in John 19 when they instructed that the bones should be broken of those who hung upon the cross. The Roman guards, they went to the bones of the thief on the left and they broke them so they couldn’t support themselves and they’d eventually asphyxiate. When he broke the bones of the one on the right, but when they came to Jesus what did they say?

He was already dead so they did not break His bones. What comes out of the bones? The blood comes out of the bones. The life is in the blood. Christ’s bones were not broken because it represents perfect bones that produce perfect love, perfect salvation, perfect blood that saves us from our sins. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:30, “For we are members of his body, and of his flesh, and of his bones.” I remember I was preaching one time doing a Revelation Seminar and I was talking about how when Jesus came to life He was real. I said, “Jesus said, ‘Look, I’ve got flesh and blood.’” After the program a lady corrected me and said, “Jesus didn’t say, ‘flesh and blood,’” She said, “A spirit doesn’t have flesh and bone as you see that I have.”

You know we would say, “He’s my flesh and blood,” but in the Bible He said, “I have flesh and bone.” The bones produce the blood. Yet another important point in this story that I don’t want you to miss, the whole vision takes place in a valley. And as I said the Middle East, they know about valleys. They’ve got the lowest valley in the world. This vision takes place in a Death Valley, if you will, but Death Valley here in California is only 282 feet below sea level. That valley in the Middle East is about 1,000 lower than Death Valley. You’ve got dry bones in a valley. You know the Bible talks about mountains. Wonderful things seem to happen on mountains. Moses climbs a mountain, God speaks to him. Elijah goes to the mountain and God speaks to him. Moses lifts up his hands on the mountain, the people get victory. Jesus goes on top of a mountain and there Moses and Elijah appear and God speaks. Difficult things happen in the valleys.

After Jesus hears that Father’s voice on the mountain top He comes down to the valley and there’s a boy possessed with demons and he’s ridiculed by his oppressors. We’ve all got mountains and valleys in our lives, don’t we? And here you’ve got a valley, very low part, with dry bones. And you know God works a miracle in a low valley with dry bones. If there’s a story in the Bible, King Ahab, who wasn’t even a good king, he had a battle up in the mountains and he won against his enemies the people of Damascus that were to the north. They said, you can read about this in I Kings 20, they said, “Well the reason that the people of Judah beat us in the mountains is because their God is a God of the mountains, but our gods are the gods of the valleys and we’re going to beat them in the valleys.”

So a prophet came to Ahab and Ahab wasn’t a good king, but God wanted to emphasize an important point. “And a man of God came and spoke to the king of Israel and he said, Thus says the Lord, Because the Syrians have said, The Lord God is God of the hills, but he’s not God of the valleys; therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand. And they’ll know that I’m the Lord not only of the mountains, but I’m the lord of the valleys.” You know the Bible tells us in Psalms 23, “When you go through the,” what? “the valley of the shadow of death, I’m there.” The wonderful, wonderful lesson in this vision, this apocalyptic prophecy of dry bones is that God could be in the lowest valley and He can bring life out of the driest bones. You know, I love that story in the Bible where the leaders in Israel were beginning to question the authority of Moses and Aaron. And so God said, “Let’s do a test.

All of you bring your staff and you present it before the tabernacle of the Lord.” And they brought their 12 staffs representing the 12 tribes and they laid them up overnight before the tabernacle. And this staff of Moses, that he had given to his brother Aaron, sometimes called the rod of Aaron, it had been originally the rod of Moses, this rod of Aaron that had gone through the wilderness for 40 years, had seen all the plagues in Egypt, been exposed to the elements and the sunlight, it’s laid up in the temple of the Lord with the other 11 rods, 11staffs of the patriarchs. What does the Bible say happened overnight? Overnight it blossomed, it budded, it blossomed and it bore fruit. It bore olives. Here’s this stick, doing much better than our avocado tree ever did, here’s this stick and it bears fruit overnight. Now if God can bring life and fruit out of a dead staff then can He do it out of dry bones? Can He make us fruitless(?) even though we might feel like we’re going through the valley of the shadow of death and we’re surrounded with bleached bones and it doesn’t look like there’s any hope? What gave life in our story?

This is the most important thing for you to remember. Two things, two things in particular. He spoke the word; he prophesied the word and things started to happen. And then the breath of life, the Spirit. The word of God comes first and then the Spirit of God. How many of you would like to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and have new life? What comes before the Spirit? What came before the Spirit during Pentecost? Jesus spent three-and-a-half years sowing the seed of the word then you had the Spirit, right? Then Peter gets up and preaches the word. He says, “Be baptized and you’ll receive the Spirit.” The word is the seed; the Spirit gives the life. Just as surely as God’s word brought the bones together and God’s Spirit then gave life. And He can give you new life. Now, I don’t know where you’re at in your experience, but if you’re anything like me you’ve been through your valley of dry bones. Am I the only one? That sometimes you think the bones are very dry. Is there any hope? Did you notice that phrase here? Go back with me to Ezekiel. I see the clock and I realize our time is up. Verse 11 he says, “Hear the word from me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: and they indeed say, Our bones are dry, our hope is lost: and we ourselves are cut off.” You ever felt cut off? You ever felt hopeless?

You ever felt dried up? God wants you to know that no matter how hopeless the situation seems if you trust in Him your bones can live. Ultimately there’s going to be a great resurrection someday. But even before that the Lord wants to raise up an army of spirit filled people that will expand His kingdom. You know I understand after World War II that somewhere between 40,000-50,000 Japanese soldiers and civilians were killed in Saipan. Do you know that they are still looking today through the remains of those 40,000-50,000 people that disappeared so that they can identify where their relatives went? It’s very important. They’ve got teams of volunteers and bone missionaries, if you will, that are still combing Saipan. They have found less than half of the people and they expect them to be searching in the future for those bones. That’d be a very depressing job, don’t you think?

How much better to be involved in bringing life to bones that really can live, to people like you and me who can have new life come into us by virtue of the word of God and the Spirit of God. Now I don’t know what your problems are, but I bet you’ve got some valleys of dry bones that you’ve dealt with. It might be one area of your life. It might be like I’ve said in a relationship. It might be in your health. Might be somebody else in your family or it might be your job or finances, but you’ve got a valley of dry bones. This message is good, if for nothing else, to remind us that no matter how hopeless something looks, God can bring new life and vitality to anything when we believe. Do you believe that, friends? I chose for our closing hymn, I think it’s 475, Balm in Gilead. Is that right? There is a balm in Gilead and it talks in there about reviving us. And if you believe that God can give us new life then please stand with me and let’s sing this together, 475 there is a balm in Gilead.

Hymn

I didn't know I was going to enjoy talking about dry bones so much. But this is really a message of hope. Think it would be a dry sermon. It’s a wonderful message that no matter how low and utterly dead and hopeless something might be that God’s word and God’s Spirit can bring life to any situation, to any soul. Amen? And that means you. That means us as a church. That God can revive us and make us an army that will be part of His people. You know the closing part of that message there in Ezekiel it tells us that God’s people will be raised up and brought into the land. Ultimately this is a message that there will be a resurrection of the righteous and we will live in that new earth in the New Jerusalem, the new promise land, that Canaan. Isn’t that good news, friends? God’s word will not fail. It will not fall to the ground and it still gives life today. If you would like to have the Lord revive your dry bones would you lift your hands? In His presence say, “Lord, revive me today. I pray in Christ’s name.”

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Reclaim Your Faith DVD Set by Doug Batchelor

Reclaim Your Faith DVD Set by Doug Batchelor
God's Promises




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