Monday, February 3, 2014

Monday, February 3-by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 17-18, Psalm 25, Matthew 25
Today's scripture focus is Ezekiel 37:1-14

The Valley of Dry Bones

37 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley;[a] it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath[b] to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold,a rattling,[c] and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. Butthere 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.” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
11 Then he said to me, “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.’ 12 Thereforeprophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 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 LordI have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”

Last year, our school preformed this story from Ezekiel for our Spring Concert. I love that this story is a story of unbelievable hope. Where there is an impossible situation, God can work a miracle.

Rayburn says:

We have all heard the spiritual Dem Bones, “Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones… The toe bone’s connected to the foot bone, the foot bone connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone connected to the leg bone…” and so on.This passage of Ezekiel is one of the few in this large book that have left their mark on the consciousness of the church. It’s dramatic and vivid picture of salvation, the animation of the spiritually dead – the coming alive of a vast army of skeletons – what you might expect to see in a horror movie nowadays with all the special effects that Hollywood has at its disposal, that vision could hardly not have left its impression upon the mind of the church. This famous vision of the valley of dry bones is the first vision reported since chapter 11, where Ezekiel, if you remember, had been taken by God’s Spirit to Jerusalem to witness the sins that the leaders of the people were committing against God and against God’s covenant. Here he is not taken to Jerusalem but to some unnamed valley in which the skeletal remains of some long since fallen army, slain but never buried are found. These skeletons, these bones bleaching in the hot Middle Eastern sun represent the spiritual condition of Israel after the fall of Jerusalem. And to the Jews, as we are going to read, after the city’s fall and after the exile of the rest of the population to Babylon, understandably thought that dry bones were an appropriate image, a very accurate way of describing their present and future circumstances. Hopeless is the idea.

I've been in some impossible situations but the one that comes to my mind so quickly is the situation with my job. I graduated in 2009 and that Fall I started teaching Grade 1 and believed I had won the "dream job" lottery. I quickly realized (I can count!) that due to declining enrolment, there would be the loss of a class for the following year. I knew it early on in the year and it was confirmed by the principal that February. He said they would have loved to keep me on staff but there just wasn't room for me. It was a reality. Just as that valley of dry old bones was a reality. There was no hope that I would get to stay at my dream job...there was no hope that the bones would come back to life. However, when God wants something to happens. You can read about it here. By His great provision, I was not only allowed to keep my job but have enjoyed 5 years in this dream job. Nothing is impossible with God.

Rayburn continues:

The vision, especially as an answer to the people’s despair, as that despair is expressed in v. 11, was intended to revive the flagging spirits of God’s people. Their situation seemed hopeless to them and would have seemed hopeless to anyone else who observed it. Humanly speaking they had no reason to believe they would ever live again as a nation or people. Yahweh had abandoned them. But he had not, in fact. In v. 12 the Lord addresses them with perhaps the most important words in this prophecy, “O my people.” They are still his people and that was to mean everything; he had plans for them, whatever they thought. He had judged them because of their sins, but he had not forgotten his covenant with them. And he has power before which the most hopeless circumstances, humanly speaking, are absolutely no obstacle at all to his peoples blessing. Dead and bleached bones are no problem for him. He can make them alive merely by speaking to them. No, he can make them alive by taking a mere man speaking to them in his name. He can make detached skeletons human beings again even through the merely human speech of someone he appoints to speak on his behalf.

This is precisely the lesson that the Lord was teaching his people through Ezekiel. They had lost sight of the Lord and their lives had undergone catastrophe as a result. Disaster had overtaken them. But the Lord could make all things new; and in fact, he was about to do just that. What would be the result of that? “Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it.” Well, Israel should have known that already; and we have no excuse for not knowing it and living accordingly: confidently, faithfully, eager for more godliness, for more fruitfulness in serving the Lord, for a greater influence for life in the lives of others. Audaciously eager. With all of that power; why ever not?

We have God on our side. He can do the impossible if we let him. May we be receptive to Him and allow Him to lead us in the way He wants us to go...even if it seems impossible. God can make the impossible, possible.

Tomorrow's scripture focusEzekiel 37:15-28
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 19-20, Psalm 26, Matthew 26

1 comment:

TammyIsBlessed said...

The knowledge that the very power to create life out of death resides in us should empower us to live so differently than the culture around us. Oh, that it were so in reality. How quickly we lose sight of the eternal.