1 The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. Ezekiel 37:1 (NLT)
Nothing quite matches the hopelessness of a valley filled with dry bones. With every sign of life and vitality squeezed out, all that is left is a scattering of broken skeletons and memories of a life that could have been.
Fortunately, this does not have to be the case in our own lives. God is a God of new creations no matter where we find ourselves or what we have been doing.
17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB)
Ezekiel was given a vision of dry bones to be delivered to the exiles in Babylon from the fallen and faithless nation of ancient Israel. But it is also a message for all of us today. In his vision, the Lord led Ezekiel all around this valley of death and destruction. Ezekiel continues to describe it:
2 He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. 3 Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”
“O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”
4 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! 6 I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
7 So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. 8 Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them. Ezekiel 37:2-8 (NLT)
The dry bones came together to form skeletons, then were covered with muscle, flesh, and skin to form human bodies. Though this was a vital step in their restoration and recovery, it was not enough – they still had no breath or life in them.
When we find ourselves in a pit of depression or despair and look back upon our own life, we may see wreckage in our past that resembles the dry bones of Ezekiel’s valley. This brokenness can come in many forms. But just as with the miraculous restoration that the Lord extended to Israel, our own healing and recovery can come, though it may come to us in stages. When we are truly ready, the Lord will not only heal our bodies and many of our broken relationships, but will also breath the spiritual gift of faith into our souls.
Ezekiel continues with his vision:
9 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”
10 So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.
11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ 12 Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. 14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!’” Ezekiel 37:9-14 (NLT)
Many a person drowning in despair has been tempted in their hopelessness to bring an end to life. But the Lord is there, offering light in the darkness and relief from the overwhelming emotional pain of a valley filled with the dry bones of defeat.
With God, there is hope, even when we find ourselves in such a place of darkness. We pray that all those facing that hour will turn to Him and receive complete freedom from their burdens, with healing, rejuvenation, and peace. With God, all things are possible, and through His strength we can prevail to enjoy a bright future and a hope in Christ.
Israel is back in the land physically today, regathered after being scattered among the nations for thousands of years. Yet, many there do not yet have faith in God. Ezekiel’s prophecy of the dry bones is only partially fulfilled. The Spirit will also be coming to the people there on God’s timetable – we can count on it.
Lord, we lift up everyone around us who is suffering from the pain of mental illness, hopelessness, depression, or despair. Lift the veil of hopelessness that is suffocating them and ignite a new light of Christ in their lives. Sweep away the fog of oppression and lift them out of the miry clay onto a new level of hope and faith. We ask for your merciful grace to be placed upon them. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.