December 1

December 1 – December 7
 
Scripture Passage:  “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about:  and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and lo, they were very dry.  And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live?  And I answered, O Lord God, you know.”  Ezekiel 37:1-3
 
Dear Friends,
 
     The story of the valley of dry bones ranks right up there with David and Goliath in the ability to keep a child’s attention. Our Sunday school lesson a couple of weeks ago was on this very topic.  It was refreshing and exciting to go back in time (as well as Scripture) and be reminded we serve a sovereign God who is able to do the impossible.  Ezekiel was a prophet of God that was dealing with a hard headed and rebellious nation.  They had been provided abundant blessings from God, but took those blessings and exchanged them for the frivolous dainties of the world.  Ezekiel received several visions from God that were encouraging.  He also received visions that were disconcerting because the blessings were dependent upon the nation’s willingness to repent and follow God.   The question never was, “Can God do something?”  It was more “Will He do it?”  God’s love is always unconditional, but his deliverance and blessings are often preceded by the conjunction IF.
 
 
     Ezekiel was not just out wandering in the wilderness one day and came upon a valley full of bones.  He was led by the hand of the Lord and carried by the Spirit of the Lord.  He was set down in the midst of a battlefield where the slaughter had been great.  As he passed through the midst of the bones he was reminded of several things.  First, this had been a terrible tragedy in the lives of the individuals as well as the death of a nation.  Second, this was not something that just happened, it had occurred over a long period of time.  The bodies had time to decompose and the bones were bleached by the sun.  Finally, they were lying in an open valley and they had been there so long there was nothing of value that could come from their death.  There are not degrees of dead, but they had been dead so long, they were not even fit for fertilizer.
 
     The story does not tell us, but I sense Ezekiel had to be going through a time of discouragement.  He spoke, preached, and prophesied with very little response from the people.  It was not so much a dislike for Ezekiel as it was a disdain for the things of God. Ezekiel cared for the people and sought to please the Lord.  The people had been in captivity and away from God for so long, they were complacent and just did not care.  Ezekiel may have felt like he was fighting a losing battle.  The only thing worse than the physical state of the nation was its spiritual condition before God.  Why keep on preaching when your congregation is dead?  So God took Ezekiel and set him down in a valley of impossibilities.  He could not even find one body with a little bit of skin on, much less one still breathing.  “Can these bones live again?”  “Of course not!”  “They are dead.”  “Dead means dead.” These would have been my answers.  I know we must be optimistic, but come on, is it possible for life to come from death?    I have to admire Ezekiel’s answer.  “Lord God, you know.”  What is impossible with man is possible with God and Ezekiel never lost sight of this truth.
 
     This story is a message of hope.  When we feel we have nothing to live for and no reason to continue, God reminds us of His power.  When the army lays down and dies, the God of Creation is able to raise up another.  Things may be dry for a period of time, but all it takes for life to return is the breath of God moving among the people. He will not only raise us up, he will return us to the Promised Land. We need to walk with our heads up instead of with our heads down, because we serve a God who is able. God raised His Son from the dead on the third and appointed morning and because He lives, we live also.
 
In Christ,
Pastor Johnny