Ezekiel lived during difficult times. He was a Judean priest living in exile in Babylon, and the people he was called to lead were spiritually dead. What happens when we stop growing? We die. And sometimes we die even when, in the physical sense, we’re still living.
That’s the description we see of the people of Israel in Ezekiel 37. God gives the prophet a vision. He’s standing in the middle of a valley filled with “bones that were very dry” and God asks him, “Son of man, can these bones live?” Ezekiel’s response: “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” (Ezekiel 37:2-3)
Most of us go through phases where our life seems very much like the bones in that valley. Dry and brittle. No joy. No vitality. No growth. Our spiritual life is held in captivity, even if we’re not in Babylon.
What to do?
In Ezekiel’s vision, God commands him to speak prophesies that bring those dead bones to life. Then He promises to do the same for the people of Israel. And, of course, he did.
He does that for us, as well.
When Fred Luter served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, he preached a powerful sermon on the denomination’s need to revive its collective dry bones. My wife and I were fortunate enough to hear a version of that sermon last year when we were in New Orleans and spent a Sunday morning at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, where Luter pastors. (Here’s one version of that sermon.)
Luter offers four keys to reviving dry bones based on Ezekiel’s text. Here the are, with my commentary thrown in at no extra charge:
- Admit your bones are dry. Stop pretending things are OK, when they are not. Ask yourself if you have the same fire for the Lord you had when you first received His grace. If your bones are dry, you likely feel it. You just have to admit it.
- Hear the Word of God. Get back into the Bible. Your bones won’t revive by reading the newspaper or the Internet or this blog, but only by reading the Word of God.
- Respond to the Word of God. Don’t just read the Word, live it. Don’t just sit in a pew, live out the message you hear. Get up and be a doer of the Word of God.
- Be filled with the Spirit of God. You receive the Spirit of God at salvation, but you can be revived and strengthen daily when you allow the Spirit to fill you and guide you.
Dry bones don’t grow like Jesus. They collect dust or become chew toys for dogs. We weren’t created to be a dog toy. We were created to grow like Jesus.