Gracefully Truthful

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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Ezekiel 37:1-14

The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by his Spirit and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me all around them. There were a great many of them on the surface of the valley, and they were very dry. 3 Then he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I replied, “Lord God, only you know.”

4 He said to me, “Prophesy concerning these bones and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Lord God says to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you will live. 6 I will put tendons on you, make flesh grow on you, and cover you with skin. I will put breath in you so that you come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”

7 So I prophesied as I had been commanded. While I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 As I looked, tendons appeared on them, flesh grew, and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. 9 He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man. Say to it: This is what the Lord God says: Breath, come from the four winds and breathe into these slain so that they may live!” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me; the breath entered them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, a vast army.

11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Look how they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore, prophesy and say to them, ‘This is what the Lord God says: I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them, my people, and lead you into the land of Israel.

13 You will know that I am the Lord, my people, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I am the Lord. I have spoken, and I will do it. This is the declaration of the Lord.’”

The Original Intent

1) Who is “me”, the author who describes his experience in this passage? (verse 1)

Ezekiel is the author of his book and is the “me” in this passage. He is considered a “major prophet” simply because he had more prophecies than some of the shorter prophetic books. He was often forced to hide from kings who neither cared for Yahweh nor His prophets.

Ezekiel was given detailed, and seemingly outlandish, visions of judgments from God. Yahweh didn’t just speak to Ezekiel and give him wild dreams, He also commanded Ezekiel to do unusual things to get God’s message across to Israel. One time, God told him to eat a scroll that represented God’s word of judgment. When he ate it, he said it tasted sweet like honey. (Ezekiel 3:3)

During Ezekiel’s growing up years, Jeremiah was Israel’s prophet. Perhaps when God called him into service, Ezekiel remembered the way Jeremiah had been treated and wondered if he would also be poorly received. He may have known Daniel personally, though Daniel was taken captive by the Babylonians a few years before Ezekiel.

Ezekiel was in captivity when God called him to be His spokesperson; he wasn’t someone on the outside, he was right with them in Israel’s exile. Sometimes Ezekiel hid in caves for protection, other times he brought food and news to others in hiding.

A prophet’s job was not to teach or expound on God’s word, rather, they were hearers of God’s voice and seers of God’s visions. They would then speak the words as given directly from the Lord. Always the truth of God’s heart, whether chastisement or promise, without a prophet’s personal interpretation was to be declared to God’s people.

True prophets of Yahweh would also point to the deception of false prophets, warning God’s people not to listen to them. Ezekiel often issued indictments to the people over their broken covenants with God. Ezekiel saw, and prophesied, about the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem before it happened and was also given a vision of the New Jerusalem still to come in Heaven. In this passage, Ezekiel is taken to a graveyard by the Holy Spirit and told to speak life, power, and restoration to dead bones.

The Everyday Application

1) Who is “me”, the author who describes his experience in this passage? (verse 1)

Even if Ezekiel didn’t personally know Daniel while they were in captivity together, it was likely an encouragement to know he wasn’t alone. At least there was one other person who still followed Yahweh! Ezekiel was called to be a prophet when he was 30 (Ezekiel 1:1), but despite his age, God chose Ezekiel to fulfill this enormous task.

I’m sure there were many times Ezekiel felt inadequate, but God continued using Him for His divine purposes and gave His Spirit to equip Ezekiel. Do you ever struggle with feeling worthy or capable of doing what God has called you to do? Or perhaps you feel as if others view you as too young to fulfill a position you know God has directed you into.

We don’t know if Jeremiah was ever in a position to mentor Ezekiel, but even without a face-to-face mentor, Ezekiel knew many prophets had gone before him and God had faithfully preserved His message through them. Of course, God Himself was speaking directly to Ezekiel as well; what stronger encouragement could there be?!

When it comes to following Jesus, it’s exceedingly helpful to have someone who has walked ahead of us offer guidance and wisdom. We desperately need community with other like-minded Christ-followers so we can be encouraged and sharpened in our faith journey.

Knowing others have faithfully followed Jesus before us and are still continuing to grow in their faith is a treasure indeed! When we hear a word from the Lord, or are given a vision from Him, it is helpful to ask another trusted believer for insight, but it is even more important to study God’s Word for ourselves.

Scripture will never contradict what you feel God is calling you to do. Always test your actions and thoughts with His word! (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21) Ask God to confirm the validity of the word or vision we have. If it is from Him, He will confirm and encourage us through His Word and others who seek Him!

The Original Intent

2) Why was Israel cut off without hope? (verse 11)

Through the years, Israel allowed evil kings who didn’t follow Yahweh to rule over them. Weakened by giving into their own lusts, vices, and the worship of the pagan gods, Israel’s kings led the nation into deep sin. As a consequence, God permitted them to fall into the hands of enemy nations. Israel was attacked by the Babylonian nation and the vast majority of Jews were taken as captives.

The very few who remained in Jerusalem became impoverished and were scattered. While Israel was in captivity, they learned of Jerusalem’s complete destruction and how their beautiful temple, built by King Solomon, had been raided and destroyed.

With this loss of their “center” as a people, and the destruction of their physical identifier (the temple of Yahweh), the people of Israel felt as if all “hope had perished.” (verse 11)

They saw no source of rescue, felt forgotten by God and cut off from Him as the temple was the physical place of His dwelling with Israel. As a people, Israel was worn down with souls so despairing, they felt as if they were dead.

Surely, with such vast destruction and loss, Israel could never regain their footing as a nation or a people chosen by God again. Set against this backdrop of hopelessness and despair, Ezekiel records this conversation of sorts between himself and God. God’s message for Ezekiel and all of Israel is that He will surely restore them.

Israel had not been left to perish in their destruction, God would bring His Rescuer to save them and bring Hope to the world!

The Everyday Application

2) Why was Israel cut off without hope? (verse 11)

We can certainly feel dried up and hopeless just like the Israelites. We all experience many times when we feel as if we are cut off from God, even for those of us who are committed Christ-followers! We go down paths we thought were good at the time, only to discover we are far from God’s design for us because we have chosen to love and serve other things above God.

Are you feeling without hope?
Israel did, many times.

Jesus’ disciples felt that way occasionally as well, and they walked alongside Jesus in the flesh! Have your circumstances created heartbreak and hopelessness instead of the joy and fulfillment you anticipated? If you aren’t sure where to turn, lean into Christ.

The same God who declared His rescue and victory for a destroyed nation, promises rescue and His faithful presence to each of us reading this today! Jesus is always present, listening, and waiting for us to turn to Him.

If you’ve never searched the Scripture for words of hope before, you aren’t alone. Perhaps you’ve never cracked open a Bible at all, please hear me, the God of the Bible is for you! Determine to come close to the God who is even now calling you, open His Word, and begin knowing Him in deeper ways.

Wherever you are with God, there will always be more of Himself that He is waiting to reveal to you! You could start really anywhere in reading Scripture, but a good place to begin knowing God better is in the gospel of John.

What will you discover about the Almighty as you turn to Him as your Rescuer?!

The Original Intent

3) Where else do we find “death to life” scenarios in Scripture? (verses 11-14)

This portion of Ezekiel’s book records one of his many visions during which, the Spirit of God physically brings Ezekiel to a literal graveyard. Decaying, dry bones are scattered everywhere across a valley. The grotesque sight before Ezekiel was strewn with remnants and reminders that what once was living, was now destroyed by death. Just visualizing it in my head makes me shudder!

Where Ezekiel saw dried up old bones and decay returning to dust, God saw something entirely different. He saw Israel waiting for the impossible, God as Rescuer. He wanted Ezekiel to know, and declare to every Israelite, that God not only saw their death and decay, but He would surely bring His new life to enter their dried-up hearts.

Only once we are assuredly dead can the impossibility of life and restoration be attained by God and God alone! Only Yahweh, the One True God, can bring radical life where death once reigned! Ezekiel breathes on the bones, but it is God’s Spirit in him that causes the bones to come alive and have muscle and flesh restored.

There are many more stunning ‘death-to-life’ moments in Scripture! Elijah raised a widow’s dead son. (1 Kings 17:17-18)
Elisha raised a widow’s dead son. (2 Kings 4:8-16)
Jesus raised Jairus’ dead daughter. (Luke 8:41-4249-54)
Jesus raised Lazarus, who had been dead for 4 days. (John 11:1-44)
Peter raised Dorcas back from the dead. (Acts 9:36-41)
Jesus Christ’s own Resurrection from the dead. (John 20:1-17)

The Everyday Application

3) Where else do we find “death to life” scenarios in Scripture? (verses 11-14)

Because God is omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipotent (all-powerful) and is therefore able to transcend all of time, the hope that was present for each of these people from the past, is still available to us today. The same Almighty God is just as capable of bringing life from dead places today as He was in the Old and New Testament.

While God absolutely still brings physical healing to our bodies today, the grandest stage for “death-to-life” transformations are the hearts and lives of regular people with messy, broken circumstances. Only the Almighty God can take a heart bent on self-worship and rebellion against God and bring it to repentance.

People whose love for Christ has grown cold, marriages that are withering away, friendships that have been severed, or the ugly, deep wounds of abuse can all be transformed by the God who specializes in bringing life from “impossible death” scenarios. Freedom and life are available to all of us because of the most pivotal death-to-life moment when Jesus Christ died and then raised to life three days later.

He gave Himself as the ultimate sacrifice, paying the penalty required for all sin, for all time, for all people. (John 3:16) In His death, everyone can find life! Christ created access to God for everyone and anyone, but this gift does not come to us automatically.

We must believe on Christ, trusting His work to cover for our sin (Acts 2:38Acts 16:30), then we are to repent and turn away from our sins to follow Him. When we come to Jesus in honest, humble repentance, He is faithful and just to forgive us. (1 John 1:9) In this moment we have life!

Our former existence of shame and sin has now died in the death of Christ and, just as Jesus was raised, so are we! (2 Corinthians 5:17) Our new self is alive and well for all eternity!

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