Can These Bones Live?
I've been meaning to post this one for about a week.
“The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’ ””
Ezekiel 37:1-6 NIV
Ezekiel was faced with a very difficult question. “Son of man, can these bones live?”
We all at times think things like this, at least when we are most observant. Looking around at our friends who we are discipling, and at our campus, the state of the church, the state of our nation, we are daily faced with an endless expanse of things that are dead. They are so dead, that it would not be an overstatement to compare them to “bones that are very dry”. It seems as though these people, our society, has been dead for so long that it seems unrealistic to even expect or hope that any of it could be made right.
The fact that Ezekiel saw the dry bones was not surprising. We see them too. What is most surprising about this passage to me is that it is God who confronts Ezekiel with the question, “Can these bones live?” Why would God ask such a question? Why would God ask any question at all? Doesn’t He already know? Is there any conception of God we can find where God is curious or needs anyone to tell him anything?
Clearly God is not asking for his own sake, but for Ezekiel’s, and for ours. To give us an idea of what it might have been like to grapple with this question, consider it in our context: “Will there really one day be enough strong men and women who will commit wholeheartedly to Him that we will grow to be the community we are dreaming of? Can our campus really be not a place characterized by apathy and self-indulgence, but a light that shines into other campuses in our state and into all countries of the world? Can my friend who is dead and horribly stubborn in his sin and unbelief really become a man of God who knows he has a hope and a future? Can we really see not only the growth and health of our own Chi Alpha as the years go by and people’s lives change direction, but multiple teams of world changers sent out to every New Mexico campus?”
At times, looking with our own eyes, these things might honestly seem improbable. But God asks Ezekiel the question to measure his heart, and in the face of this almost hopelessly futile situation God showed Ezekiel a wondrous feat that demonstrated still only a minute glimpse of His divine ability and power. Every dead thing was made living, and out of nothing was raised a mighty army for God’s purposes.