Ezekiel 37:1. The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD,
God’s servants learn nothing until they have an experience similar to that of Ezekiel. They must be led by the Spirit of the Lord, and they must have their eyes and mouths opened by him, and then they can both see the vision, and tell the vision to others.
Ezekiel 37:1. And set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,
Like a huge grave, or charnel-house, or battle-field where the slain had not been buried. No servant of God would go without being sent to such a place, yet it was needful that Ezekiel should be there in order that he might understand and speak the message of God.
Ezekiel 37:2. And caused me to pass by them round about:
He had to make a thorough survey of this grim and ghastly charnel -house.
Ezekiel 37:2. And, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
They had lain there so long that the wind had dried up the juices of the marrow-bones, and they were turned to dust.
Ezekiel 37:3. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live?
God did not ask this question for his own information, but for the prophet’s. The Lord wanted him to realize the difficulties of the work to which he was called that he might be driven the more completely to rely upon God, and not upon himself.
Ezekiel 37:3-4. And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
We have heard of a Romanist who had, as a penance from his priest, to go and water a dry stick. Ezekiel’s task of preaching to dry bones seemed to be as useless as that; yet, if God bids us do the same, we need no other justification for doing it. What is foolish in the sight of reason is wisdom in the judgment of faith.
Ezekiel 37:5-6. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
He had to tell these bones the unconditional purposes and promises of God: “I will,” and “ye shall;” and this is the way in which God works out his eternal purposes concerning the sons of men. He bids his servants proclaim his message, and then he fulfils his own purposes and promises.
Ezekiel 37:7. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise,
A rustle, —
Ezekiel 37:7. And behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
Here was divine power bringing the bones to their proper position in the various bodies, and forging the separated anatomy to re-form itself.
Ezekiel 37:8. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
So there was no very great improvement so far; there were only dead bodies instead of dry bones; there was something more to look at, but nothing more agreeable, and really no more of life than there was before.
Ezekiel 37:9. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man,
“Prophesy unto the wind.” That seems a very absurd thing to do, but there are no absurdities where God gives his commands.
Ezekiel 37:9-10. And say to the wind, Thus saith the lord GOD Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me,-
Ezekiel was very obedient; he only wanted to know his Lord’s will, and then he raised no question, but did at once just as he was told to do: “So I prophesied as he commanded me.” It is a prime qualification in a servant of God that he should do exactly as he is bidden-not to think how he would like to do it, nor to follow the plan that his own wisdom suggests, but just to do as he is told, as Ezekiel did: “So I prophesied as he commanded me,” —
Ezekiel 37:10-11. And the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.
“There is no hope for us; we are dead, and worse than dead. Our case is hopeless; there is no possibility of restoration for us.”
Ezekiel 37:12. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the lord GOD Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
There was to be a house of Israel after all. The nation seemed to be dead and buried, but God would revive and restore it. This is a promise which may apply to a church when she gets into a very low spiritual state, and it looks as if she could never do any more good: “Behold, O my people, I will open your graves.” And to you, dear friends, who are very heavy of heart, full of despair, and who seem as if you were as good as dead and buried, God speaks in this promise. Therefore believe his Word as though it had been directed to you personally, “Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.”
Ezekiel 37:13. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,
Great deliverances and almighty quickenings reveal God to us, and make us know how gloriously great Jehovah is.
Ezekiel 37:14. And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.
When the Jews get back to Canaan again,-as they will do,-they will then not only know that Jehovah is God, but also that Jesus Christ is the true Messiah. May the Lord hasten that blessed consummation in his own time!
Ezekiel 37:15-16. The Word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Moreover, thou son of man,
Notice how the Lord constantly calls the prophet “son of man.” When God uses his servants much, and greatly honours them, he always takes care to keep them humble by reminding them of what they are in themselves. So, Ezekiel, you have prophesied to the dry bones, and they have lived through your prophecy but it was not by your own power that you did this. You are nothing but a son of man, God must have all the glory of this wondrous work.
Ezekiel 37:16. Take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick,-
Or, rod, —
Ezekiel 37:16. And write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:
They were divided into separate companies, they first wandered away from God, and then they wandered away from one another.
Ezekiel 37:17. And join there one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.
As he held them in his hand, they were to grow into one; and, when all the churches get into the hand of Christ, there will be perfect unity between them. Things that are near to the same thing are near to one another; but, until the Lord shall come, and take his divided Judah and Ephraim into his own hand, there will be no true unity between them; but there will be then.
Ezekiel 37:18-19. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.
No church will long continue in the enjoyment of the blessing of unity unless it continues in nearness to Christ. Communion with Christ means the communion of Christians with one another; we can only get true union and true communion in that way.
Ezekiel 37:20-22. And the sticks whereon thou writes shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:
When Christ cometh, there shall be this true unity in Israel. Where Christ has already come, there is this true unity in his Church; and as Christ cometh to all of us, he will take away the evil that divides us from himself, and divides us from the rest of the people, and so we shall be one in his hand.
Ezekiel 37:23. Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their GOD.
This applies first to Israel literally, and then spiritually to all the chosen. What a weighty and comprehensive promise it is! We are to be saved from our idols, to be saved from the most loathsome sins: “detestable things”; to be saved from our household sins: “I will save them out of all their dwelling places wherein they have sinned.” Where do we go, my brethren, without finding sin? Sin in our bed, and sin at the board, sin in the shop, and sin in the street, sins when we are in company, and sins when we are alone in the field, sins everywhere; yet the Lord Jesus Christ is able to meet us in every place, and to cleanse us.
“So shall they be my people, and I will be their God.” What a wonderful declaration this is,-we are the Lord’s people, he is our God! We are his portion, and he is one portion. Oh, that every one of us might have a share in this double blessing!
Ezekiel 37:24. And David my Servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.
Oh, for the one king to reign over the one people, who shall keep the one law, and walk in holiness and humility before the one Lord!
Ezekiel 37:25. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.
Surely God does not treat the saints now worse than he treated Israel in the days of old; so we may go to him in prayer for our children and for our children’s children.
Ezekiel 37:26. Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them:
Oh, that blessed word everlasting! A salvation which is not everlasting is not worth having; any promise that is not fulfilled, any grace that can fail, is not God’s promise or God’s grace.
Ezekiel 37:26-27. And I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
In the 23rd verse, the Lord’s promise was, “They shall be my people, and I will be their God,” and here, grace seems to ring the changes by reversing the order: “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” God is evidently so pleased with this declaration that he repeats it, only turning the sentences round the other way.
Ezekiel 37:28. And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.