Thoughts on Ezekiel 37
by Lance Newsom
Dry Bones Board Member
Ezekiel 37 provides a center; a core to the orbiting story that is Dry Bones Denver. It’s foundational to what this ministry is all about. “The Valley of Dry Bones”… it kind of sounds a bit like the title of a bad horror film, doesn’t it? But, of course, it’s not. It’s a very short story in the Old Testament, but one of great significance.
Approximately 600 years before Christ was born, Ezekiel served as a Hebrew prophet. In chapter 37 of the Book of Ezekiel, he details a particularly strange vision of being in the midst of a sea of dry bones as God reconnects and reconstitutes them with muscle, tendons, flesh and finally the breath of life. Can you even imagine what that scene would look like?
Of course, symbolism drips from the pages of this story. This is definitely one to unpack layer by layer, piece by piece, tendon by tendon… (Sorry, I couldn’t resist). What did this vision mean to Ezekiel? What does it mean to us today? Here’s something that I find profound and shocking, but it’s probably not what you think. Are we supposed to read this and be amazed at God’s power? I don’t. Here’s why. God is God! If we believe that God created all of existence, everything… then it isn’t particularly amazing, and certainly not unbelievable to me, that He can raise the dead. Don’t misunderstand me, I am impressed. God is, indeed, all powerful. But if we read this story and only see the miracle of God raising the dead, I think we’re missing something substantial.
Here’s what I do find most amazing… God uses Ezekiel in His process of performing this miracle. After placing Ezekiel in this wasteland of dry bones, God asked him if these dry bones can live. God sought man’s opinion! Of course, Ezekiel deferred to God’s wisdom for the answer. And here’s where it gets particularly interesting to me. At this point, God could have said, ‘Step back, Zeke, and watch this,’ and then made the skeletons clink and clank to life. That would have been way-cool and Ezekiel would have been blown away, no doubt. God would have displayed His power, and Zeke would have had a magnificent vision to share about God. But that’s not how it happened. God engaged Ezekiel by using him as a conduit for His power. God instructed Ezekiel on what to say and worked through him to orchestrate this scene. God involved a human! He certainly didn’t need Ezekiel to make this happen. He chose to use Ezekiel. This is what I find simply astounding. God performs miracles. We know this. God has the power to do whatever He chooses. As Christians, we teach this. But over and over again throughout God’s story (and despite our best efforts to screw things up), God chooses us! God uses us, an undeserving bunch of sinners… then and now… to advance His kingdom. Amazing!
How does this dusty Old Testament story apply to us today? It may be hard for some of us to believe that we are loved by God, and that He chooses to use us in His plan. Surely we must tend to get in the way of His work, and we have to admit that as a collective, we are probably more trouble than we’re worth. But we should thank God with every breath that He doesn’t see it that way. He doesn’t give us what we deserve or we would be lying together as a pile of lifeless, dry bones. So, to me, it’s not a matter of whether or not God chooses you. It’s how God uses you. Like Ezekiel, we just have to be willing to show up and follow God’s lead. So my question to leave you with is this… how is God using you today?