The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.(Ezekiel 37:1-2)
Ezekiel has seen visions of the restoration of Israel at the end of the World. At the time he was given this vision, Jerusalem lay in ruins, the temple also, and the trickle of captives had just begin to make the four hundred plus mile trek back to the Holy Land.
In the 2500 years since Ezekiel’s vision, Israel would suffer under Gentile domination, have an encounter with Jesus the Messiah, go to war with Rome, suffer a second total destruction of the temple, and become exiled out of the land for two thousand years of pograms, forced exile, persecutions, humiliations and recently the holocaust which claimed the lives of one out of three Jews in the world.
The iconic photo images from the holocaust of the Jews in 1933-45 seem to resemble living skeletons of the those Jews who survived the horrors of German concentration camps.Who can forget the images of piles of corpses, starved to the bone, buried in mass graves? I think of those terror images when I read Ezekiel 37.
A valley full of bones, a relic of what was once alive, thriving and vital,but now dead and very dry. The prophet was asked,”Can these bones live?”, and he wisely answered, “Thou know ,Oh Lord.”.
Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.(Ezekiel 37:4-6)
The Lord said to speak to the bones, Prophesy in the name of God, for God’s intention is to breathe life into them and put sinew and flesh on them, that those bones might live again.
So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.(Ezekiel 37:7-8)
But notice the order of the revival; First the bones came together, then the flesh and sinew and skin, and finally…the vivifying ‘breath of Life” came into them and they lived. The order is important, as we will see.
Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.(Ezekiel37:9-11)
“Prophesy to the wind…”, The Hebrew for ‘Breath’, and the word for ‘wind’ and the word for’ Spirit’, are all the same Word, Ruach.
The Moral of the vision?
“These bones are the whole house of Israel…”. Ephraim, the norther Kingdom and Judah the Southern Kingdom have been dead for some time now. They have been kept in state, intact and on display for all of the world to see, but Judaism is dry bones, barren religion, stripped of life and of the Spirit. There is no temple, no indwelling God, and until recently, no ‘holy nation’ in the Holy Land, just the relics of what once was.
I believe I know the moment Israel died as a nation. It finally happened. When the High Priest of Israel stood before the representative of the Roman government, who had asked him, “Do you want us to crucify your King then?”, and He, who stood in proxy for the entire nation, declared to Pilate,” We have no Kong but Caesar!”
What about all of those centuries, of singing and blessing in the name of the LORD OUR GOD, King of the universe? What about Jerusalem , the city of the great King?
All of that was denied and repudiated in that moment, and the nation chosen to be a Kingdom of Priests, died on that day. Eidersheim puts it soberly in his “Life and Times of Jesus The Messiah”;
And at the close Pilate once more in mockery presented to them Jesus: ‘Behold your King!’ Once more they called for His Crucifixion – and, when again challenged, the chief priests burst into the cry, which preceded Pilate’s final sentence, to be presently executed: ‘We have no king but Caesar!’ With this cry Judaism was, in the person of its representatives, guilty of denial of God, of blasphemy, of apostasy. It committed suicide; and, ever since, has its dead body been carried in show from land to land, and from century to century: to be dead, and to remain dead, till He come a second time, Who is the Resurrection and the Life!
But God intends to bring the nation back to life again in the last days, and at the time of restoration.First He reunites Israel physically and structurally, as a nation and a people,The Most high fleshes out the Nation once again. But the very last act, is the spiritual re-birth of Israel, something we are all awaiting for as Paul the apostle tells us,
Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?…For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?(Romans 11:12,15)