“The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” ” (Ezekiel 37:1–3)
As Ezekiel looked on a vast valley of dry bones, for him they represented the Jewish nation seemingly gone beyond recovery. Babylon had conquered the nation and its spiritual connection to God had long since dried up to nothing through their own choices. In the context of this field of ruined potential, God asks Ezekiel "Son of man, can these bones live?” The obvious answer is “no.” Everyone knows that once an army is dead the battle is over, there are no repeats, there are no do-overs!
But Ezekiel does not give the obvious answer, instead he replies, "O Lord God, You know.” This answer of the prophet has been challenging me a lot recently to reconsider what I consider to be hopeless. We too often make our decisions based on what we think is humanly accomplishable, forgetting that we serve an all-powerful God. Sometimes the obvious answer is the wrong answer. It is easy to look at the battlefields of our life with sin and the devil and see only the dry bones of defeat and death. I have heard many say, “It's no use I will never get the victory,” “I've tried so many times but it never works,” the list of comments and thoughts could go on because they are familiar to all of us. We are accustomed to the humanly possible answers “No, it won't work.” “There’s no hope.”
The difference between despair and death and faith and hope is in the answer we give to God's questioning words, “Son of man, can these bones live?” Our sinfully conditioned answers will continue the trend of dead and dry bones. However, the prophet recognizes that divine potential is never inconvenienced by the end of human options. Though all seems impossibly hopeless, he knows that the battle is not over unless God declares it to be so. “O Lord God, You know.” It is this answer that receives an extraordinary response from God: “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!’ Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:4–6). Natural answers to that command that come to mind are “God are you kidding? They are dead!” But not Ezekiel. The prophet chooses to believe that God can do the impossible and speaks to the failed people before him. And the impossible happens! If you read all of this story you will see that it is God’s Word that changes the outcomes, the bones knit together and become full bodies which are then filled with the breath of God and live again, a vast army.
So the question I have for this month is “where are the dry bones in your life?” Have you been chipping away at them with human attempts at a solution? Into the history of your failures God asks the question, “_________, can these bones live?” What answer will you give today?