Ezekiel 37:11-14 (ESV)
11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”
Reading the prophets can be somewhat overwhelming. I say that because the prophets were given a message from God to give to the people regarding their disobedience. Time and again God would send a prophet to let the people know that the time was coming in which God would bring punishment for their disobedience and infidelity to Him. The prophet Ezekiel is no different.
But the other thing about the prophets, and truthfully, about God, is the fact that within the warning of punishment, God always leaves the people with a word of hope. You see, even though God does allow punishment, and eventually exile to come to his people because of their shenanigans, God still loves his people very much. Because of His tremendous love, God always leaves his people with a message of restoration and redemption.
In a way, that is exactly what God is doing with this passage in Ezekiel’s prophecy. Indeed, Israel were dried up and in the grave for more than one reason. One, obviously, is a result of their exile. But the other, and perhaps the deadliest, is because of the spiritual condition of the heart. This was a people who had turned their backs on God numerous times. This was a people who had forsaken God and followed the desires and the passions of their own heart, rather than seeking the life-giving, thirst quenching waters of the Spirit of God. As time and generation went on, the people drifted further and further. Their religion had become just that – religion. These people were dry, dead, and in the grave…a spiritual grave. This spiritual grave had put them into an exile that was harsh and cruel. Here was a once very proud people, broken, worn, desperate – they were looking for hope and could see none.
To this dead people, God tells Ezekiel to prophesy a new message, a message steeped in hope. A message that would be a reminder of the covenant of old, that God would be their God and they would be his people. God told Ezekiel to prophesy a message in which the people would know that the day was surely coming in which God would raise them out of their spiritual graves, out of the desperation of their death, and put a new Spirit in them, a Spirit of life, a Spirit of life, a Spirit of Light – God’s own Spirit. It would be a spirit that would take the dryness of their death and make it come alive. Yes, Ezekiel reminds the people that God was still working and that God still loved them. Yes, Ezekiel reminds the people, God remembers his covenant and he was about to make all things new.
O these words for us today! Think about them! How many people in our world today are caught up in the dry dead tombs of their lives? How many people are in the grave from the power of the sin that they have willingly succumbed to? How many people are dead in the grave because of unhappiness and loneliness? How many people are in the grave because they have been pushed to the margins of this world, told they are not good enough, not “smart” enough, not pretty enough? How many people are in the grave because their addictions have overtaken them and they see no way out? How many people are in the grave because an abuser has convinced them that they have no worth? O, grave, you have had your day!
People, look up! The grave is not the end! God loves us so much that he did something truly amazing, something that we celebrated just days ago! In one powerful move, God, in the person of Jesus, actually went into OUR tombs, OUR graves, and stretched out his hand to bring us forth into life! Where, O grave is your victory? Where O death, is your sting? It is no more because it was nailed on a Roman cross and when Jesus came forth from the tomb of death, he shattered their power once and for all! O, people, lift up your heads, indeed God has made all things new! He has won your salvation, he has brought your redemption, he has raised you to life, he has filled you with living waters, he is the bread that nourishes our souls from death to life! O, people, lift your heads! The Spirit of the Living God will be poured into those who earnestly seek!
Praise be to God! Amen.