Ezekiel 37:1-14 These Bones Are the Whole House of Israel 5/30/2004 ίΰ
#1. Do These Bones Live? (Ezek 37:3, John 5:28-29)
#2. There Was a Noise (Ezek 37:7, Acts 2:1-4,39, Rom 8:9)
#3. O My People (Ezek 37:12, Col 1:13, John 5:25, Rom 3:13)
Please open your Bibles to the Prophecy of Ezekiel 37:1 (2X). God shows us here in Ezekiel chap 37 two intriguing parables. Today we will consider only the first of the two parables. It is the parable of The Valley of Dry Bones (2X). God dearly loved His prophet Ezekiel. God gave him many exquisite prophecies, which reveal the sovereignty of God. Also here in the parable of The Valley of Dry Bones, God revealed His sovereignty over all mankind. Before we read this parable, let me first point out that there is in this parable a Hebrew word, which occurs 9 times, and which has been translated in this passage breath or wind. But this Hebrew word has been translated in the Bible Spirit, or spirit, most of the time. Therefore, while I am reading it, I will read this word as spirit, because this will make it easier on us to interpret this parable. Let us now read this parable. It begins with:
Eze 37:1 Ά The hand of Jehovah was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of Jehovah, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,
Eze 37:2-3 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, do these bones live? And I answered, O Lord Jehovah, thou knowest.
Eze 37:4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy to these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of Jehovah.
Ez 37:5-6 Thus saith the Lord Jehovah unto these bones; Behold, I will cause spirit 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 spirit in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah.
Eze 37:7-8 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 spirit in them.
Eze 37:9-10 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the Spirit, prophesy, son of man, and say to the Spirit, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah; Come from the four winds, O Spirit, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the Spirit came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
Eze 37:11-12 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. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
Eze 37:13 And ye shall know that I am Jehovah, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,
Ez 37:14 And shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then
shall ye know that I Jehovah have spoken it, and performed it, saith Jehovah.
God addressed Ezekiel with Son of man. What is the significance of this? Who in the Bible is eminently known as Son of man? It is the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, we read in Matt 8:20,
Mt 8:20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
This is the 1st time the name Son of man is mentioned in the NT. But Christ did not come only as the Suffering Servant. He will come again as the Judge of all the earth. We read this in Daniel 7:13,
Da 7:13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
Da 7:14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
Here we see that the Judge of all the earth is also the King of kings and Lord of lords. If we tend to forget His Word, or we ignore His commandments, or we bear His Name in vain, we should also not be surprised if He says, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
#1. Do These Bones Live? (Ezek 37:3, John 5:28-29)
Why did God address Ezekiel with the name Son of man? God did that for us. God did that to make interpreting this parable easier. As you can see, this parable is a life-giving story and, as you know, Christ is the one who gives us life. This is the angle from which we must see what is going on here. God brought Ezekiel, or you might see it as if He sent the Lord Jesus Christ, in the midst of a valley full of bones. And as verse 2 says, these bones were very dry. In other words, they were very dead. Why would God emphasize that? God again emphasizes this in verse 3, where we read,
Eze 37:3 And he said unto me, Son of man, do these bones live? And I answered, O Lord Jehovah, thou knowest.
Your KJV Bible reads, Can these bones live? as if God suggests here a possibility: Can they be brought back to life or can they not? But that is not what the Hebrew text reads. In the Hebrew text we read this as a rhetorical question: Do these bones live? NO! After what God has said in verse 2 we know that these bones do not live. God said they were very dry; they were very dead. You can see it yourself, Ezekiel, these bones are very dead. God emphasizes that these bones are very dead, because that is the basis for this resurrection story. First of all we have to decide, is this story about the 1st resurrection, or about the 2nd resurrection? As you know, the 2nd resurrection is the resurrection on the Last Day, when Christ shall come for the 2nd time, at which time all that are in the grave shall come forth with new bodies, either glorified bodies fit for the NH&NE or contemptible bodies fit for condemnation in Hell. The Lord Jesus said in John 5:28-29, (Just listen as I read)
John 5:28-29, Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall
hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
That this refers to a future event is clear. The Lord Jesus said, The hour is coming. Let us now be clear about the background for this story in Ezekiel 37. Is this story in Ezekiel 37 a story about the 2nd resurrection? Are these physical descendents of Jacob going to be resurrected from their graves and then reign with Christ for a glorious 1000 years? Are these Jews then hailed into Christs glorious Kingdom without repentance? Then what about all those other people who have been raised at the same time according to John 5:28? I am saying without repentance, because that is the condition of the majority of the Jews we see today, and that is also the condition of the majority of the Jews according to Romans 11. Could it be that they first die without repentance and would they then be resurrected to be in Christs army, which evangelizes the whole world? Is there any salvation without repentance? No! Absolutely not! God will give repentance to those whom God intends to save, but salvation is always accompanied with repentance. Those who die without repentance die unsaved, and those who die unsaved shall never be raised with a glorified body. And so you see, that the premillenial theory is inconsistent with Scripture. Therefore we must conclude that this story in Ezekiel 37 is not about a future resurrection on the Last Day, because on the Last Day we do not need an army to evangelize the world. The enemy has been removed into Hell, and then it is time to rejoice and be glad, for the great wedding feast of Christ and His Bride, the eternal Church, is then beginning. Therefore, this story in Ezek 37 is about the 1st resurrection, which is the resurrection of the soul. This we must have fixed in our mind before we attempt to interpret this resurrection story. And why must we see Christ in this story? God sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to this sin-cursed world, which is like a dry valley full of dead people. Look at it now. God said to Ezekiel:
Preach to dead people. Is this for real? Absolutely Yes! God made it very clear in Ex 7:1-2, that to prophesy means to declare the Word of God. And so, when we declare the Gospel to other people, we are prophesying, because we are declaring the Word of God. If the people to whom we are declaring the Word of God are unsaved, we are declaring the Gospel to spiritually dead people. Those are not my words. This is what God says in Eph 2:1-3, (Just listen as I read)
Eph 2:1 Ά And you (hath he quickened), who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Eph 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Eph 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Prior to our salvation we were dead in trespasses and sins, and we were under the wrath of God even as others who never become saved. The Biblical view of being spiritually dead is a condition in which we are unable to do anything that is pleasing in Gods sight. God says in Rom 8:8, So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Those that walk around unsaved cannot please God, and when their body has died they still cannot please God. So then, while they were bodily alive, they might as well be dead, because they contribute absolutely nothing to any good works before God. But what about those who do become saved? Prior to their salvation they are as dead as others who are never becoming saved. But after God makes them Born Again all their sins are covered by Christs atonement on the cross. None of their sins will show. Which means that the works we have done before our salvation are simply erased, because they are all sin. And the works we have done after our salvation have become approved in Gods sight, because Christ has removed all the stain of sin.
Therefore, God says to Ezekiel, in verse 4,
Eze 37:4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy to these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of Jehovah.
Paraphrased, God said to Ezekiel, Preach to these dead people, and command them to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and whosoever does not believe will be under the wrath of God. This is the message that we must get out to anyone who will hear the Gospel. This is a command from God to Ezekiel as well to us. In Eze 33 Ezekiel is called a watchman unto the house of Israel. We too are called watchmen unto the house of Israel. We too must warn the people that the Sword is coming. And woe unto us if we do not warn them of the impending disaster. Will they listen to us? Can they hear? No! They are unable to hear the message. They are spiritually dead, so they cannot hear any spiritual message. How then can anyone be saved? Well, what do we see when Ezekiel preached to these dead bones? They came to life. Did Ezekiel do that? NO! God did that when Ezekiel was speaking to these dead bones. God made them alive when the Word of God was spoken to them. This does not come to pass every time we speak to some unsaved individuals. This only comes to pass when God decided to save these individuals. But God demonstrated here what He said in Rom 10:17, So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But even if God has already decided who will hear the Gospel call and who will not hear, we must still preach the Gospel. So Ezekiel was obedient, and he prophesied.
#2. Then There Was a Noise (Ezek 37:7, Acts 2:1-4,39, Rom 8:9)
Eze 37:7 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.
Why was it important to God to mention that there was a noise? The Spirit of God was moving upon these dry bones, and they came together and were covered with sinews and flesh and skin. But this was not where the noise came from. The noise came from the Spirit of God. The noise was like the noise at Pentecost. Yes, of course! Pentecost! Today is the feast of Pentecost. You thought I forgot? No! That is why I have been preaching today from this passage in Ezekiel 37. This is really a Pentecost story. Put a sticker here in Ezekiel 37 and please turn in your Bibles to Acts of the Apostles 2:1 (2X). What is Pentecost? The word Pent indicates the number 5, like a Pentagon is a shape with 5 corners. Pentecost occurs 50 days after the day that is between Good Friday and Easter. Or you might say Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after the first Saturday after Passover. And so, Pentecost always falls on Sunday. In the OT ceremonial Law the Feast of Pentecost is the Feast of Weeks. What happened on that first Pentecost Sunday, in the year AD 33? Let us read that here in Acts 2:1,
Ac 2:1 Ά And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
Ac 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. (Here is that sound)
Ac 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Ac 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Ac 2:5 Ά And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
Ac 2:6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
What was that sound? It was the sound of a rushing mighty wind. You might say it was the sound of a hurricane. Who made that sound? God the Holy Spirit made that sound, and it drew many people to the house where the Apostles were gathered. And then they heard at least 16 different languages, while the twelve apostles spoke Hebrew with a Galilean accent at the same time. There were three phenomena on that first Pentecost: #1. There was the sound of a rushing mighty wind. #2. There appeared cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. #3. They spoke in other languages as the Spirit gave them utterance. The Lord Jesus told the disciples that they were to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Holy Spirit, and then they would be His witnesses. This was it! Now they were His witnesses. Peter preached one sermon, and in one day God added about 3000 souls to the army of Christ. That number grew by leaps and bounds in the following weeks, and months, and years to an exceeding great army. Did you see: Who was doing it? God says in verse 39: as many as the Lord our God shall call. Our preaching cannot save souls without Gods grace. But God commanded us to preach, or to prophesy, and we must obey His command. Pentecost was an outreach to all the nations in the world, but only God knew whom He was calling to become saved. What happened at Pentecost was just like what happened in Eze 37:1-14. God told Ezekiel: Prophesy unto These Bones, and again God raised up an exceeding great army. Let us return now to Ezekiel 37 (2X). Did you notice that the bones in this valley were on the surface of the ground? They were not buried, but they were lying there as if these people were slain in a battle. And these bones were very dry; or very DEAD. But when were they killed, and what battle was that? When was the first battle? The first battle was in the Garden of Eden between man and Satan. And when Adam ate of the fruit of the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil" Adam died spiritually, and with him all his posterity died. Every one of us came out of the loins of Adam and we came into this world spiritually dead, very DEAD, and in total rebellion against God. That was the material God used: Dead Bones! That is exactly what God is picturing in this parable. God demonstrates in this vision: "This is how I make My very great army alive. I am doing all the work, and I get all the glory. And this is how I make them alive: In Two Steps." First God makes people alive as sons of Adam, but then they are still spiritually DEAD. They are still dead in trespasses and sins. Then in the second step God makes His people alive as sons of God by indwelling them with His Holy Spirit, just like at Pentecost. In the first step God said: "Prophesy to these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of Jehovah." God is hereby indicating that we were formed in our mother's womb by the Word of the Lord. Conception in the womb takes place not just by a biological union of a man and a woman, but it is an act of God Himself. God Himself creates new life in the womb. This is what God has declared in the Bible and that is why we have to hear this Word of the Lord. That is why God commanded Ezekiel: "Prophesy to these bones". And God takes all the credit for the first miracle of creating a new life. But then they are still spiritually dead people. God indicated in verse 8: "but there was no breath (life) in them". Without God the Holy Spirit living in us we are unsaved, dead in trespasses and sins, & on the way to Hell. God said in Rom 8:9, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." Therefore, God had to perform the second miracle, and put His Spirit within them, in all of His elect. This specifies that all these people who are raised up in this valley, do not represent all the people in the world. Not everyone in the world will be saved, only those whom God intends to save. Adam was formed out of clay. God declared that we all are formed out of that same clay. The question might be raised: Why did God use "bones", instead of "clay"? Well, because these people whom God is going to raise up in this valley are not representing just anybody; these are going to be the people whom God loved from before the foundation of the world. God is first going to give them an Adamic body, then at some time in their human life God gives them His Spirit and makes them Born Again, and they become the Body of Christ. Then God said to Ezekiel: Prophesy to the Spirit, or paraphrased: Plead with the Spirit.
Eze 37:9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the Spirit, prophesy, Son of man, and say to the Spirit, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah; Come from the four winds, O Spirit, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
Does this mean that Ezekiel could now command God the Holy Spirit to enter into these dead bodies? Can a human being command God? Absolutely not! God commanded Ezekiel to prophesy to the Holy Spirit the Words of God Himself, and Ezekiel simply obeyed. This was not Ezekiel commanding God the Holy Spirit, but God carrying out the revival of these dead; an action that He had planned already before the foundation of the world. And God was using Ezekiel as the instrument through which He carried out His plan of mercy. Please turn now to the Prophecy of Isa 35:5 (2X). God showed in Ezek 37 a dry valley; not only were the bones dry, but the valley also was dry. And God pictured the people whom He has elected unto salvation. These are the slain that God mentioned in Ezek 37:9. They are His people who were still in Adamic bodies, but spiritually blind and deaf, and lame, and dumb. The Prophet Isaiah pictured this same setting in Isa 35:5-10,
Isa 35:5 Ά Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
Isa 35:6 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
Isa 35:7 And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
Isa 35:8-9 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:
Isa 35:10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Let us think about this now. The blind shall see, the deaf shall hear, the lame shall leap, and the dumb shall sing, because all these are metaphors of salvation. Before we were saved we were blind, but then God gave us the ability to see spiritual things that are told, or that are in the Bible. Before our salvation we were spiritually deaf. We could not hear the Gospel call. But then God opened our spiritual ears. Before our salvation we were spiritually lame. We were incapable of freeing ourselves from the bondage to sin and Satan. Before our salvation we could not speak the language of the Bible. But then God caused waters to break out in the desert. The water of the Gospel was flowing in the dry valley, and as a result the spiritually dry valley became a fertile place for spiritual growth. And for whom is God doing this? God is not doing this for everyone in the world, because not everyone in the world is saved. What an incredible honor God has bestowed upon us by giving us this privilege to be instruments of mercy in His hand, through which He reaches others unto salvation. To reach those others who are spiritually blind and deaf, and lame, and dumb, but who are beloved of the Lord, who need to be contacted by those who have already received the gift of salvation. That is why God wrote:
2Cor 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
When we become saved, God imposes His will upon us, and we will proclaim the wonderful works of God. Just like on Pentecost, the Apostles were compelled to go out and preach the wonderful works of God. What works are we talking about? The work "of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ". The work of God the Father who before the foundation of the world selected a Bride for His Son. The work of the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who took upon Himself our sins because we could not help ourselves, and paid the full penalty for those sins, which was the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. The work of God the Holy Spirit who opened our spiritual ears and eyes so that we could believe that we have received eternal life, and instilled in us a desire to be obedient servants of Christ. The grace of God that changed us from enemies of God to sons of God, and changed us so that our faithfulness to God is not by the law, but out of gratitude. Look at the wonderful result of Ezekiel's obedience in preaching to the dead: The Spirit entered into those dead bodies, and they stood upon their feet. This was a picture of salvation: The dead were made alive; they received a brand new soul. This exceeding great army included the disciples on Pentecost, and it included the three thousand who were saved on that day, and it included the Saints who were saved after that day, and it includes US. Everyone who in the past became saved is part of that exceeding great army. It is the army of the Lord of Hosts. Sometimes you read in the O.T. this expression: "The Lord of Hosts". Literally it means "The Lord of the Armies". We are on the Lord's side doing battle against Satan and his fallen angels. But are we qualified to be a witness and to do battle against Satan and his angels? The disciples were qualified when they on Pentecost received the Holy Spirit. From that day on everyone who has become saved, has received the Holy Spirit, and has become qualified to be a witness and is automatically enlisted in the army of the Lord Jesus Christ. But in reality, are we the ones who are fighting against Satan and his angels? NO. Not on our own strength. We cannot take on Satan. We are only instruments in the hands of God. It is God who works in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure, so that God gets all the credit. Now God applied this parable to a group of people, who is called: "The Whole House of Israel". God said in verse 11: "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel". Who, in verse 11, are these people who are called "the whole house of Israel?" In our interpretation of the O.T. we must apply here what God has revealed to us in the N.T. God has told us in Rom 9:6, that "They are not all Israel which are of Israel", and God has told us in Gal 6:16, "Peace and mercy be upon the Israel of God". And in many other places in the N. T. God made it clear that "the Israel of God" is not strictly the Jews, or the blood descendants of Jacob. "The Israel of God" represents "the Remnant chosen by grace", which is the whole Body of Christ, and which includes all the O.T. Saints, including Abel, and Enoch, and Noah, and includes all the N.T. Saints down to the very present day. The term "the whole house of Israel" that is used in this parable stands for "The whole house of Christ", because the Lord Jesus Christ is also called "Israel" in Hos 11:1. What do they say? Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off; we are left to ourselves. In other words, they realize that they are DEAD, dead in sins, under the judgment of God, and on the way to eternal damnation. That is a hopeless situation. But those who remain unsaved are too proud to come to such a conclusion. Only those who are "the Remnant chosen by grace" would come to this conclusion that they have been living a life worthy to be under the wrath of God. They realize they are sinners. But there is hope for them. God said to Ezekiel in verse 12:
#3. O My People (Ezek 37:12, Col 1:13, John 5:25, Rom 3:13)
Eze 37:12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves,
"O My People". How beautiful do these words sound in the ears of those who realize that they were on the way to Hell. How wonderful to hear God say: "O My People". Is God saying that to me? Is God saying that to US? God says in verse 12: "Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel."
If "the whole house of Israel" stands for "the whole house of Christ", then the land of Israel must be the Kingdom of Christ. That is indeed what we read in Col 1:13, Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. When we became saved God translated us into the Kingdom of Christ, into the "land of Israel". But there were no graves in the open valley. Why does God say "I will open your graves"? Does this not remind you of the opening of the graves on the Last Day? Indeed it is. And that is the reason why God introduced the graves at this point. We have not been in a literal grave, but we have been in a condition called DEATH. The Lord Jesus spoke of that in John 5:25, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is (2X), when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. This verse does not speak about a future resurrection. Jesus said "it is happening now" when the spiritually dead shall hear the message that the Son of God was crucified for them, then they that hear shall be made alive, spiritually. For them salvation has come. Is it possible that our formerly DEAD condition was considered as a grave? Yes indeed. That is why God said in Rom 3:13 "Their throat is an open sepulchre". That is why Jesus said to the Pharisees: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchres". Indeed, our formerly DEAD condition was like a grave. People who are spiritually dead are locked in the grave of a stony heart. God says here in Ezek 37 that He is going to deliver us from that bondage to that stony heart. He will open our graves and bring us into the land of Israel, His Son. Tell them that they will be brought out of the land of their enemies, where they were buried alive. Tell them I will open your graves. Tell them God said, I shall put My Spirit in you and you shall live. How long shall they live? Would God have lied when their body dies? No, because their soul will live forever with God in the NH&NE. In all this God will be glorified. Gods quickening of the dead contributes more than anything to the honor of His Word. O My People. What a lovely melody. When we realize that we possess the faith that only God could give, then the peace and calm of the new life in Christ sings, It is well with my soul.
AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.