The Valley of Dry Bones
Open Your Bible
Ezekiel 36:1-38, Ezekiel 37:1-28, Hosea 6:1-3, John 11:23-26
BY Beth Joseph
During the Lenten season, we slow down, intentionally withdrawing for the purpose of grounding ourselves in the life of Christ. We remember His sacrifice and His resurrection and what it accomplishes for us. In today’s reading, both Ezekiel and Hosea reference resurrection, and contribute to the Old Testament teaching on this topic.
The vision in Ezekiel 37 is the third one to occur in Ezekiel. In this third vision, God asks Ezekiel a weighty question: “Can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3). Or maybe more easily understood to you and me: “Do you believe in resurrection?” This question hints at the exile’s own view of themselves that is later revealed: “our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished; we are cut off” (v.11). Prior to chapter 37, God had promised to give His people a “new heart” and a “new spirit” (Ezkekiel 36:26). But how is a new heart and a new spirit possible when one’s view of oneself is of dry bones with no hope? God answers this question: “I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them, my people, and lead you into the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:12).
Lent often feels long and kind of dark. While we appropriately mourn our sin, we sometimes forget that the best thing about Lent is Easter—the resurrection! What was happening in the valley of dry bones is the same thing that happens to us during Lent—we “come to life” (v.6). In a season where we anticipate the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, we also give thanks and rejoice over our own.
Do you believe God can breathe new life into you? Into your disappointment, your broken circumstances, your loss or grief? Ezekiel models for us what it means to trust the outcome to God, even when it may seem impossible—“Lord GOD, only you know” (v.3).
Don’t forget that the best part about Lent is remembering the resurrection to come! God can take anything dead and make it new. We end our reading today with Jesus Christ, the one who invites us to come to life—“the one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live” (John 11:25). The question for you and me today is similar to the question God asked Ezekiel about whether or not these bones could live: “Do you believe this?” (v.26).