Long have I aspired to be one of those super-disciplined people who read through the entire Bible in a year…every year…for many years! Still haven’t done it in a year, and I keep getting stuck at the Book of Ezekiel. It starts out great, but several more chapters in and I am soooooo overwhelmed by the dire consequences of God’s own people becoming “impudent, stubborn, and rebellious”, I feel I might end up needing medication, therapy, or a Book of Ezekiel Support Group.
Even so, the entire book is permeated with the persistent, unfailing, unwavering love of God for His people. He simply refuses to give up or abandon them as the unavoidable disasters caused by of their rebellion rain down; even when there appears to be no hope that they will ever turn back to Him.
But there is a reason He is called, “…the God of hope”, (Romans 15:13) as evidenced by the account in Ezekiel 37:1-14, where the prophet is taken in a vision to a large valley full of bones which are “very many” and “very dry”.
As a shameless back-of-the-book-first reader (don’t judge!) I’ll tell you now that the bones represent God’s displaced people Israel who had ‘died’ in their despair saying,
“…Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!” v. 11.
Loneliness is a liar, despair is a disease, but hopelessness…? Hopelessness is a stone cold killer!
God asks Ezekiel, “…can these bones live?”, to which Mr. Consummate Diplomat replies, “O Lord God, You know.” And I can’t even blame him; not when he is standing in the middle of Absolutely No Hope Valley! I’ve been to that dismal place, and not just as a tourist looking to buy a T-shirt or a refrigerator magnet. No. There was a time I LIVED in that valley; almost took out a mortgage…
“…O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!… ‘Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live…Then you shall know that I AM the LORD.’” vs. 4-6 (emphases mine).
When you feel like you’re standing all by yourself, in your own valley full of the bones of dried-up inspiration, dead dreams, and the ashes of godly but frustrated desires; when despair spreads debilitating infection to every belief you have about God’s love and power to do what He knows is the very best for you, His kingdom, and His glory; then hunt down every verse in the Bible that tells the truth about God’s character, commitment, love, and power, and anchor your soul to them, or your trust in God will die…and nothing good comes from that!
God is a truth-teller and a promise-keeper. If He says it, you can build your life on it, and if He promised, He will do it. Your dry bones will live and…
“… Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it.” v. 14b
Believe God, and keep on… just living the thing.