Thoughts from John on Ezekiel 37

Dry bones3

One: Duncan said: ‘You not only have a past with God, you also have a future’.  I sense that perhaps someone needs to hear these words today, someone who wishes they could undo something they have done, and return to a time when God was close. Duncan and Ezekiel assure us that there is a future, that love will come again, that spring will blossom, that God forgives us and draws close to us. ‘It’s OK! You not only have a past with God, but also a present – and a future.’

Two: Perhaps Ezekiel’s picture of ‘dry bones’ doesn’t particularly speak to us, although we get the general picture of God bringing healing and life where there is brokenness and pain. I’m interested that this vision was given in the light of the Jewish people’s own lament ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’

In other words, God subverts the language they have used to bring hope. We perhaps speak of grief, sorrow, perplexity, exhaustion, weariness, stress, anxiety, broken relationships, addiction, unfaithfulness.

The Holy Spirit knows us well, and will perhaps speak to us of the transformation God brings by turning our own thinking on its head.  The Spirit promises joy in place of grief and sorrow (a deeper, more reflective joy than we experienced before our pain.) The Spirit promises rest, and peace, and energy, and freedom and healing, and the resources of love and endurance to cope with hard times. The Spirit speaks to us directly in unexpected ways, and will ensure that we hear what we need to hear.

The Spirit not only revives our inner live, but works in homes, and relationships, and communities, and workplaces.

Three: I saw someone pointing out that in Ezekiel 37, God gives Ezekiel words to say; Ezekiel speaks these words, and God does stuff and that this is a lovely promise to us – that if we are open to the Spirit of God, we will be given words to speak into and over one another’s lives, and the Spirit will be in those words as they are spoken, and through them work the change of which they speak. Sometimes we may not even know that we are speaking God’s words; at other times, we may sense what to say to someone, and know that we have to say it.

And I think it works in ways other than words. Someone may be prompted to take a meal round to a struggling family, and in receiving it the family members may hear God whispering to them ‘I have not forgotten you, I love you.’ God works in people’s lives through us!  (It’s important though, simply to be open to God, learning to discern whether the thoughts and words in our heads are actually from the Spirit, or are just the voice of duty.)

Four: I like the two references in the passage to knowing that God has been at work. The first, is when the bodies have been reformed and life breathed into them. ‘I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’ (v6) ; the second is when they once again have their own land ‘I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’ (v14)

Just now, God gives us the life-giving treasure of the Holy Spirit – and we know that God is the Lord. But there are still times of struggle, testing, and doubt. But one day, resurrected, we will reach our ultimate destination, the new earth of God’s dreams. Then we will know beyond questioning, beyond doubt that ‘I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it.’  But of course, living in the future is as dangerous as harking back to the past. We are called to live fully in the present, our lives inspired and guided by the Spirit of the Future.

Five: That phrase ‘cut off’ (v11) reminds me of Isiaiah 53:8 ‘For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.’  These words point to Jesus, who allowed himself to be ‘cut off’ so that we will never again be ‘cut off’

Image from The Luther Bible 1534 by Lucas Cranach the Elder

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