Dry Bones & the Breath of God
Updated: Mar 30
Ezekiel surveys a valley full of dry bones. Sun-bleached and brittle, they represent the grief and hopelessness of an entire people. The people of Israel.
"Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD" (Ezekiel 37:4)
A great rattling swept across the valley, and the bones came together; bone to bone. Sinew and flesh and skin knit themselves into one until bodies formed. But there was no breath. There was no life. Not yet.
Ezekiel and the Valley of Bones is a beloved story that really sparks the imagination. I can picture the scene right now. Can't you? Heck, we've all probably watched something like it in a movie. But what this story represents, while cinematic, is the desolation of the spirit.
When Ezekiel was given this vision by God, the people of Israel had lost everything. War came for them, and their homeland and families were torn apart. Their faith lay ravaged on the ground, hope trampled by a Babylon army. Where was God? Why had God abandoned them?
How many of us ask ourselves this same question? Where is God? ... It's a difficult one to answer—because it requires faith and hope.
Last week in church, a prayer request was lifted up for someone drowning in loneliness. The isolation of Covid, and the way the world has changed over the last few years, still has them in its grip. I couldn't help but think of this as I studied Ezekiel this week.
God gathers the bones spread out over a valley and brings them together, wrapping them in what makes us human. But it's not until the breath arrives that they turn from death to life.
"Prophesy to the breath and say: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live." (Ezekiel 37:9)
The Breath of God—the Spirit—is vital.
In Genesis, God breathes life into Adam, and he becomes a living being. In the New Testament, Jesus breathes on his disciples, and they receive the Holy Spirit. In the same way, the breath of God in Ezekiel represents the power of God to revive and sustain us.
Breath is life ... and this breath is not limited to the Israelites in Ezekiel's vision. It's a promise of God's power to transform and renew us all. It's what brings the dead to life and gives hope to the hopeless.
If the Spirit so moves you, sit with this idea of the Breath of God for a moment. Imagine it as wind on your face, warm and comforting as it blows away every negative thought and works to knit you back together. Take a deep breath. As air fills your lungs, feel it as God-breathed hope and a promise of abundant life.
Find a Vlog of this piece below, put to video and music.