Are Your Bones Dry?
“They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’” Ezekiel 37:11
In the 37th chapter of the book of the prophet Ezekiel there is a record of a vision that the Lord showed Ezekiel of a valley full of dry bones. I suggest that you read this directly from the Scriptures yourself, but I’ll give you a short version in my words here.
Ezekiel was “in the Spirit of the Lord” and he was taken to a valley full of human bones. There were many bones, all separated or dispersed, and they were very dry. The Lord instructed him to prophesy to the bones and the bones arose with a rattling sound and connected together, and became covered with muscle, tendons, and flesh, to form a large multitude of people. Then he was instructed by the Lord to prophesy to “the breath” (or spirit) and as he did so, the breath came into them and they became alive.
“So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.” Ez. 37:10
This experience must have been a horror for Ezekiel, like a nightmare. But what did it mean? Or, more importantly, what does it mean for us today?
Clearly this is a spiritual vision, meaning that the physical events and things represent spiritual things. This vision is about spiritual death and spiritual life.
Ezekiel 37 verse 11 indicated that this vision was in response to the Lord hearing what the people of Israel had said about themselves:
“Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost and we ourselves are cut off!”’” Ez. 37:11
The people had been saying that they were spiritually dead. The phrase “our bones are dry” must have been a metaphor used at that time for being or feeling dead. The Hebrew word that is translated as “dry” is Yabesh, meaning to be ashamed, confused or disappointed; also to dry up or wither. In this case, I believe that the dry bones that they were referring to were the dead, dry, bones that would be in a grave or coffin. The next verse in Ezekiel supports this idea:
“Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.”’” Ez. 37:12
It is interesting to me that the people knew that they were spiritually dead, and were confessing that fact to one another. Remember that this is not the people of the world, but these are God’s people, who should have been spiritually alive, but were dead, and they knew it. I imagine this is true today. Many of God’s people know that they are dead spiritually. They are confused or disappointed. They are without hope. They feel cut off from the Lord.
I see here a clear definition of what it means to be spiritually dead. Obviously, the source of life is God’s Spirit, but the symptoms are shown clearly here: first, you have no hope, or your hope is lost; and second, you feel cut off from the Lord.
Many Christians seem confused about what it means to be spiritually alive. They may think that this means working miracles or being involved in some physical manifestation of God’s power. Or they may think it means being active in a church organization, or being a deacon, elder, or minister/preacher. These things may be done by spiritually alive people, but they are not what makes you truly spiritually alive.
Spiritual life comes from having an intimate connection with God. This connection comes through Jesus, and only Jesus (as revealed in the Bible). At the core of this connection is our hope that we have in the resurrection. The understanding that we have become accepted as a true child of God by the blood of Jesus, and that we are guaranteed eternal life with a resurrected body, just like the body of Jesus, establishes our connection with God. The Holy Spirit then abides in us as a result of our faith in the hope of eternal life. Our persistent faith in this eternal hope in heaven brings life.
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord. I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is come into the world.’” John 11:25-26
As we establish this hope in the resurrected life that was promised to us through Jesus, and adjust our thinking and actions accordingly, we then become spiritually alive, walking, thinking and acting according to our spiritual reality. This is walking in the spirit! We have a living hope. We are in tune with the Lord’s will and purposes, since our hearts are no longer set on the false hopes and desires of this physical world. We are connected to the Lord!
The Hebrew word for “cut off” is gazar, meaning to destroy, divide or exclude. It is a sad thing for a child of God to feel cut off from Him. Sometimes, I imagine, they are not even sure what is wrong or why they feel this way.
The solution to this is twofold:
First, you must humble yourself and seek God’s face. Cry out to Him. Confess any sin. Seek Him directly and ask that He would reconnect with you. Seek Him through His Word, the Bible, which is the absolute truth, His revelation of Himself.
Second, re-establish your hope in the resurrection. Put to death any worldly hope that has entered your heart; remove it from the focus and crucify it; consider yourself dead to this world. Make sure that any desire that concerns the things of this world is in the Lord’s hands; in other words, let it up to Him whether you receive the desire and be willing to give it up. Focus your hope on heaven and store up your riches there. Ask the Lord to show you how to accumulate riches in heaven. Jesus is the center of this hope. His second coming will bring about the transition that we wait for, ending this cursed world system and establishing His kingdom on a new heaven and new earth.
Here is the final portion of the prophecy that the Lord spoke through Ezekiel to His people:
“I will put My Spirit in you and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it, says the Lord.” Ez. 37:14
For those of us who have established their hope in heaven, and have made the connection with the Lord through Jesus, and are walking in the life of the Spirit, with the Spirit within us, we must recognize who we are in the spirit. We are not the scattered, dry, bones in the valley, although many that we may encounter are like those dead bones. We are an “exceedingly great army” that the Lord has raised up for His purpose or pleasure. We should continue to walk in the light of this truth. Even now, we are citizens of heaven. This is the land that He has placed us in; spiritually, it is ours now, and soon we will be there in reality.
It is impossible for us to reconnect the scattered, disconnected pile of dry bones that is the dead church of today. Nor can we cover them with muscle, tendons and flesh, or breathe life into them; only God can do this. We can be used though, as Ezekiel was, as a tool to bring about the change, but only as the Lord directs us. I await His instructions and pray that He would use me to accomplish this miracle of bringing new life to dead, dry bones, even if it would only be in some small way.