Dry Bones Can Live (Ezekiel 36-37) | Scott Brooks | 5/17/2020
Scott Brooks   -  

PASTOR SCOTT: Hey, Freshwater.

Good morning to you all, or good evening,

whenever you’re watching this. I’m going to

jump right into it. I’ve got — I’ve got some

bones here on my table, like really old bones.

They’re, like, really old. No meat on them, no

nothing. They’ve been out in the forest.

These aren’t human bones, just to

make clear. It’s from a deer. Isn’t that

cool? This is a vertebrae. It kind of looks

like the Imperial Transport, Sean was telling

me. It looks like the Imperial Transport.

Sorry.

Anyway, when you look at bones,

there’s a couple assumptions that you make.

Bones, we come across, like, a pile of bones,

what would we think? We automatically think,

“Those things are so dead,” right?

They’re never going to come back to

life. They’re just dead. They’re probably

going to decompose over time and become part of

the soil, right, part of the dirt. We would

never think, “Oh, wow, that thing has got a

chance of life.”

It’d be like this: Imagine you’re

at an accident, a car accident, and there’s two

bodies on the street. Actually, there’s a

skeleton and somebody else who has been

injured. The EMT comes up, and the person

injured stops breathing, right in that moment.

Who is the EMT going to rush to? Is he going

to rush to the skeleton that is really dead, or

is he going to rush to the person that just

stopped breathing?

Imagine if he goes to the skeleton

to do CPR. Everybody would be looking, like,

“What are you doing? It is a dead skeleton.

It is never going to live. You’re a little too

late to the scene for that one.”

He is going to rush to the one who

has a chance to live. The reason I’m talking

about bones and dead bones, like, really dry,

dead bones, is because that’s the chapter we’re

in here, in Ezekiel 37. If you have your

Bible, flip to it, turn it on, whatever.

You’re going to need to be in

chapter 36 and 37 as we read through this story

here of God and Ezekiel and this valley. So

let me read it to you.

Says this in chapter 37:1, Ezekiel

said, “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. And

it was full of bones. He led me around among

them, and behold, there were very many on the

surface of the valley, and behold, they were

very dry. He said to me, ‘Son of man, can

these bones live?’ And I answered, ‘O God, you

know.'”

So we have this opening scene of

Ezekiel 37, in a valley, filled with dry bones.

If you’re just jumping in here, and you haven’t

been a part of Freshwater, back pre-Covid-19,

we were going through Ezekiel. We’re just

about ready to finish it here. We have this

Sunday and a couple more, and we’ll be done

with Ezekiel. Let me catch you up to speed on

why Ezekiel is in this valley with the Spirit,

God the Spirit, looking at all these bones.

What has happened is, from

chapter 1 all the way up through chapter 35,

God has been bringing judgment against Israel.

It’s a whole host of things that Israel has

done, but, essentially, Israel has rejected

God. It’s the southern kingdom at this point,

and that’s a whole other story. There were two

kingdoms, and now there’s a southern kingdom.

It’s the only one left.

God has judged them, conquered by

Babylon, and they’re in exile because they

rebelled against God. They started to worship

idols. They brought the idols into their

homes. They brought them, actually, into the

temple. If you flip over to chapter 36, he

says, “There’s blood in the land.”

They’ve murdered people. They’ve

killed babies. They killed children to worship

idols. It’s — they’ve taken advantage, like,

the leadership, those in power have oppressed

the poor. It’s awful, what’s happened in

Israel.

God made a deal with Israel. Deal,

covenant, better word, right? There is a

covenant he made with them. In Deuteronomy 4,

he says, “Look, if this stuff happens, I’m

taking you out of the land. This is the

promised land. You’re destroying it, and I’m

taking you out.”

They raised their right hand and

said, “We’re in for the deal. Not only are we

and our families, but every family and

generation that’s passed down from us is part

of this covenant,” so they signed up for this.

God comes along and says, “Guys,

I’m kicking you out of the land. You’ve gone

so far, you’ve rejected me.”

We catch up, actually, in verse, I

think, around verse 20 — or verse 18 of

chapter 36. God says this, he says, “So I

poured out my wrath upon them for the blood

that they’d shed in the land, for the idols

which they defiled it, and I scattered them

among the nations.”

There’s another reason they’re

standing in the valley though. When they got

thrown out of the land, they went to the other

nations and listened to what happened. It’s

like the double — there’s a double whammy here

on God’s reputation.

Because he says, This is what

happens — or what happened, “I scattered them

among the nations. They were dispersed through

the countries. In accordance with their ways

and their deeds, I judged them. When they came

to the nations, wherever they came, they

profaned my holy name, in that the people of

those nations said of them, ‘These are the

people of the Lord — or these are the people

of Lord,'” right?

“And, yet, they had to go out of

his land. I had concern for my holy name,

which the house of Israel had profaned among

nations to which they’d came.”

It is not only they rejected God,

rebelled against God in all ways possible, but

when they left the land, everybody is mocking

them and ended up mocking God. You ever heard

somebody say, “There’s no way I’m going to

follow Jesus because of the way that Christian

acts”?

Have you ever heard somebody say

that? What they’re doing, they’re not only

insulting the Christian, they’re really

insulting God. They’re saying, “This is that

kind of God? Why would I follow that kind of

God?”

It’s the same thing. God had had

enough. There’s these 35 chapters that spanned

over years of judgment. 15 years for them, the

nations destroyed. But if you wrap in the

northern kingdom, which happened in 750 BC,

you’re talking about a lot of years of judgment

and people being exiled and people being

enslaved.

So imagine this: They’re standing

in this valley of dry bones. He says, “There

is a lot of dry bones everywhere.”

And in the valley, when he says,

“Can I do this,” and Ezekiel’s answer is,

“Well, only you know,” it’s this answer of a

helplessness.

The field represents — the dry

bones represent utter hopelessness, utter

despair. No possibility of return. It is like

saying, “Oh, yeah, this deer is going to come

back to life.”

Like, who would say that? You walk

over. I mean, we see deer along the road all

the time getting hit, but none of us ever go,

“Yeah, that deer can come back to life.”

Why? It’s beyond hope. That’s

where Israel was, completely hopeless, lost

cause. I wonder if some of you right now

imagine this. You’re in this valley, and I

wonder if this is possibly the story of your

life, or maybe something you’re facing right

now. It’s like you’re standing in a valley of

dry bones, and God, the Spirit, is walking with

you. Everywhere you step, you’re trying not to

step on bones that just reminds you, this is

impossible. There’s no way out. There’s no

way that I could be rescued from this.

This vision that God gives Ezekiel

is the beginning. It’s actually a description

of what God has already started to give to

Ezekiel in chapter 36, hope. Chapter 36:1-15,

he starts to talk about the land, and he says

to the land, the promised land, he says, “I’m

going to restore you. I’m going to heal you.

My people won’t be cursed when they walk on you

anymore. I’m going to restore you,” he says,

“even better than before.”

In fact, if you go through

chapter 36 and you get to the end, he says

this, he says this in verse 35, he says, “It’s

going to be like Eden,” which is a staggering

promise. Pulling it all the way back before

the curse, like, it is full restoration of the

land. That’s important. Part of the covenant

had to do with the land, and God says, “I’m

going to restore the land.”

It’s not only the land, it’s the

people. He says this in chapter 36:24, he says

this, he says, “I will take you from the

nations and gather you from all the countries

and bring you into your own land. I will

sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be

clean from all your uncleanness, and from all

your idols I will cleanse you.

“I will give you a new heart, and a

new spirit I will put within you. And a new

spirit I will put within you. I will remove

the heart of stone from your flesh and give you

a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within

you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and

be careful to obey my rules.”

It’s this promise of spiritual

restoration to the people. It’s amazing, “I’m

going to restore you, and I’m going to give you

the ability to obey me. You don’t have it, so

I’m going to live within you.”

It is an unbelievable promise. He

goes on with this promise to the people. At

the end of chapter 36, he says this, in verse

37, he says, “I will also let the house of

Israel ask for me — or ask me to do for them,”

and he goes on to list these requests.

What it is, God has stopped

listening to Israel. He stopped listening to

them. He said that, “I’m done. I’m done

listening to you. You guys have rebelled

against me. You’ve made it clear you don’t

want me. I’m done.”

What he says right here is, “I want

relationship with you. I’m going to hear your

heart’s desire. I’m going to restore that

connection where you and I talk to each other

again.”

It is an unbelievable promise,

unbelievable restoration. So you have the

land, and you have the people. Over in 37, you

then have the nation. You have national

promises, the covenant. In verse 22, he says,

“I’m going to make them one nation in the land,

on the mountains of Israel. One king shall be

king over them all, and they shall no longer be

two nations, no longer divided into two

kingdoms.”

He is going to reunify the kingdom.

No longer this civil war. All Israel will be

one, one nation.

Then he brings in another part of

the covenant, the covenant he made with David

with the everlasting line of kings that would

come through his name, his family line. He

says this, “My servant David shall be king over

them, and they shall have one Shepherd.”

That is a big deal to Israel.

There’s two thrones, two kings, all vying for

power, with the northern kingdom and the

southern kingdom. Everybody is wanting power.

He says, “What is going to happen, the line of

David is restored to the throne.”

That’s Jesus, the Messiah, Son of

David, from the tribe of Judah, and he is the

one that’s put on the throne. It is an amazing

restoration of all the covenants that God had

made with Israel. It’s staggering.

Not only that, as we look at these

things, we could look and say, “Well, that’s

great for Israel, but what does that mean for

us?”

The part that’s really — I would

say, for us, when you go back and you look in

chapter 36:24-27, that’s the new covenant,

where Jesus comes, and he puts within us —

changes our heart of stone to a heart of flesh,

and the Spirit comes to live within us.

I mean, that is totally the new

covenant. I mean, Jesus — in Hebrews, it

talks about Jesus, how he will sprinkle us

clean with his blood. He washes us clean.

That’s Christ. That’s the new covenant.

John 16, Jesus says, “Hey, when I go, I am

going to send the Spirit, who is going to live

within you.”

That had not been fulfilled up

until Jesus. All these prophesies, Jesus is

the fulfillment of those prophecies. It is

incredible. It is for the church. There’s

parts of this — and I could be tipping my

hand, how I look at these things — but there’s

parts of this that’s for Israel, he makes

expressly for Israel, and, yet, within that,

God is saying, “This is the new covenant, as

well. This is for anyone who would call on my

name.”

It is an unbelievable moment. The

possibility of life. Jesus actually says, “I

am the resurrection. I am the life. This is

for anyone who would call on the name of the

Lord.”

It’s both. So he, with all these

in mind, he brings Ezekiel to this valley.

It’s a vision. It’s the Spirit of God in him.

A valley filled with bones. It’s a vision of

Israel. It’s the dead people of Israel. All

those who have died spirituality, physically.

It’s just the vision of all the death. He asks

Ezekiel, “Do you think these dry bones can

live?”

Ezekiel is like, “Well, only you

know.”

It’s not unbelief. It’s not doubt.

It’s just, what do you say, when all you see is

death? So he said to Ezekiel to verse 4,

“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 to enter you, and you shall

live. I will lay sinews upon you, and you 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,” Ezekiel said, “and as I prophesied,

there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, 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.

“But there 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 you may live.’

“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.”

He gives the interpretation of

what’s going on in verse 11. Spirit says, “Son

of man, these bones are the whole house of

Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried

up, our hope is lost, and we are indeed cut

off. Therefore, prophesy to them and say to

them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will

open your graves and raise you from your

graves, O my people. I will bring you into the

land of Israel. And you shall know that I am

the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise

you from your graves, O my people.”

The prophecy, this vision, happens

in two stages. One is prophesy to the bones

life, or to come together, right? Can you

imagine in that moment? They’re standing in

the middle of all of these things, and imagine

and hear the sound. It is not just seeing it.

It is hearing.

Hearing the rattle of bones, right?

Like, what is that? He is hearing it across a

whole valley. Are bones whizzing around in the

air? Are they going across the ground? Like,

what does that look like?

Bones are moving and rattling,

sinew, muscle, tendons, organs, all these

bodies are put back together. They’re not

breathing, but they’re all put back together,

whole. Then he says, “Prophesy breath, breathe

on them.”

In that moment, they all breathe

and stand up. It’s this stunning vision of

what God wants to do. It’s resurrection.

Now, I want you to imagine if you were in

exile. You were hearing this message for the

first time. Because God makes it real clear,

he knows the state they’re in when they say

this, “Our bones are dried up. Our hope is

lost. We’re cut off. We’re cut off from God,

cut off from help. We have no hope.”

Can you imagine the first time

Ezekiel describes this vision? People in

exile, people who lost so many loved ones,

people who think it’s all over and there’s no

hope. I’ve got to think so many of them were

like, “Please, don’t tell us this if this isn’t

true. Please don’t jerk us around with this

kind of news. My heart can’t handle that. I

can’t handle being disappointed anymore. I

can’t handle another moment of disappointment,

loss, death. This — don’t joke around with

this.”

I wonder if some of you who are

listening right now, you’re in that same point.

Like, you can’t afford to hope again. Whatever

you’re facing, and maybe it’s life in total or

maybe there’s a circumstance here, and you’re

just looking at this going, “I don’t dare hope

because it’s just been — it’s been a life of

loss and death and defeat and suffering.

Please, do not tell me that.”

Maybe some of you, it is so bad,

like, you contemplate death. You contemplate

taking your life because you can’t take anymore

of this life where there is no hope and there’s

no way out.

Here’s this vision, where God comes

along, and he says, “I have got resurrection

power. I am the God who can pull bones

together and breathe life. I am the God with

all power and resurrection. I can make bones

rattle. I can make people breathe again. I

can bring life into anything, anything that’s

dead and beyond hope. I am the God who

restores hope. I can do this.”

What’s interesting is, as we look

at the new covenant, he says, “Call on the name

of the Lord.”

It’s this moment, the Spirit of

God, Ezekiel, but I think it could be you and

God, in this moment. God is standing by you,

and I wonder if he is even asking you the

question, “Do you think I can do this? Do you

want me to do this?”

Imagine yourself, you and God, in

this valley. He’s asking you the question, and

what’s your answer? What’s your answer? And

before you give that answer, before we talk

about it, I just want to show you one more

thing. Because it flips everything on its

head. It really does.

Because in this moment where God

starts to say, “Hey, hope is now coming. I’m

coming. I’m coming to rattle some bones. I’m

coming to open some graves.”

But he says, “I want you to

understand what’s driving all of this.”

He says this over in verse 22, he

says this, chapter 36, “Therefore say to the

house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is

not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am

about to act, but for the sake of my holy name,

which you have profaned among the nations to

which you came. And I will vindicate the

holiness of my great name, which has been

profaned among them. And the nations will know

I am the Lord. I will vindicate my holiness.”

It is an “I statement” after

another, I will, I will, I will. Verse 27, “I

will put my Spirit within you. I will do this.

I will do that. I will, I will, I will.”

Then he says it again, “It is not

for your sake that I’m going to act, declares

the Lord. Let that be known to you.”

He goes on and keeps saying this,

“So the nations who are left will know I am the

Lord.”

Says it again, “You will know I am

the Lord.”

“I have spoken,” says the Lord.

Chapter 37, it is more of these

things. Verse 13, “You shall know I am the

Lord.”

One verse later, “You’ll know I am

the Lord.”

And he ends verse 28 and says, “The

nations will know I am the Lord.”

See, what God is doing is, in this

moment, he is coming in and he says this, “I

want everyone to know, I am the Lord. I have

resurrection power. I have the power to

redeem. I have the power to forgive. I have

the power to take what is dead, what could

never come back to life, and I can rattle some

bones. I can open some graves. I’m going to

do it because I am the Lord, and I want

everybody to know it.”

He wants you to know that he is the

Lord. Like, it’s the best thing that could

ever happen to you and to me, is to know he is

the Lord, and he is the Lord of the grave. He

is the Lord of life. He is the resurrection.

He is the one who can put the Spirit in us, and

we have connection with Him.

So Christ and you in this field,

what are you going to say? Maybe today is the

day, for some of you who have never thought of

this, that God wants to come in and do this

thing. It’s not just you, it’s about him and

you getting to know him. And he’s probably —

not probably — he is right next to you, just

like this vision with Ezekiel. He is not far

away. He’s saying, “What do you think? Live

again?”

Maybe your answer is, “I don’t

know;” it’s okay. What if today, you said,

“Let’s do it. Let’s do it, Lord”?

What if today is the moment where

maybe you, for the first time, tell the Lord,

“I need you. I have no hope. I’ve just —

this is my life. I’m standing in a valley of

dead bones, all kinds of death. I need you to

rattle these bones and bring life. I need you

to open the graves. I need you to come and

save me. I want you in me. I want you to

clean me.”

If you’re living with guilt and

you’re living with shame, there is this moment

in Ezekiel — not in Ezekiel — actually, it’s

after, it’s about 50 years — 40 or 50 years

after Ezekiel, where a lot of the Israelites

are brought back to the land. There is a

moment they hear the law. They haven’t heard

the law read.

It is in Nehemiah, they gather, and

they hear the Word of God. They hear what God

says about how to live, and they just start

weeping. They just start weeping. They’re

overwhelmed because they know what they’ve

done. They know they’ve totally messed it all

up. They knew, they knew, they totally walked

away from God as a nation. They start weeping.

I love what God does there, he

says, “No, nope, no. We’re not doing that.

This is not a time to weep anymore. That was

then. It is a time for joy because I am

restoring.”

And if you’re sitting there, and

you know what you’ve done, you’re like, there

is no way God can do this because of who I am

and what I — I’m telling you right now, God is

the one who raises people from the grave. He

gives them a new heart.

It is simply saying, “Lord, I

believe that you are the Lord. Come and save

me. I receive your forgiveness. I know I need

it. Come and make me live again. Or, Jesus,

come and bring this power to raise people from

the dead, to raise hopes again. Lord, would

you come, and would you begin to speak into the

things that are dead in my life,

relationships.”

God can do it. He’s still the same

God as back then as he is now, and he can do

this.

Let me pray. Holy Spirit, would

you speak right now. Would you give each

person that sense that you are there? Your

Word says it. It is true, so, therefore, you

are there. Would you be so close to each

person who is listening. Would you have mercy,

and would you invite each person into this

moment of seeing you as Lord. Would you show

them or even mention to them the things that

you want to now bring life, things back from

the dead to life, things that you want to

restore.

Would you begin to pour hope into

people who lost it a long time ago and are

scared to hope again. Just give them hope.

Jesus, I don’t know how this goes. Like, I’m

doing this in a room, and it is a different

time and, yet, I know what you can do. You

span time and you span places, like, you’re not

limited by that.

Jesus, when they hear this right

now, would you fill them with hope. Would you

show them that this could be a new season of

joy and a time, Lord, to start hearing some

bones rattle and seeing some graves open.

Amen.

God bless you guys.