Ezekiel 37 : 1-14
37 The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. 2 He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. 3 Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”
“O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”
4 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! 6 I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
7 So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. 8 Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.
9 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”
10 So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.
11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ 12 Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. 14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!’”
It’s a familiar theme in the Bible… God leads, guides or physically places a man or woman into a seemingly unfavorable situation; said man or woman is then overwhelmed by what God has led them to. God then asks the unsuspecting hero for a solution, usually in the form of a Life Group question. This theme is constant in both the Old and New Testament. You probably have heard me say God doesn't ask questions because He is unaware. He asks questions to give us the opportunity to discover what we believe and then partner with Him in the truth. This is true anytime God asks a human a question in the Scripture. God's divine questions act as catapults for us into His truth and partnership with Him. In this instance, Ezekial’s predicament is no different. Here we have a scenario where God physically places Ezekiel in a land of desolation and perennial death, the Valley of Dry Bones. The Lord leads Ezekial into what I would describe as a situation of absolute hopelessness. How gracious of God (insert sarcasm)! Let me ask you a personal question. Have you ever been led by God into a situation that you felt was completely hopeless? I'm sure you have. If you're honest with yourself. You, like myself, found out quickly your heart is prone to complaining and asking God why He let you end up in such a place / situation like this. This is a common human dilemma, complaining and cursing God’s will and use for our lives. Like Ezekial, we have to discipline ourselves to stop and hear God’s invitation to partner with Him in the WHY of where he has led us. It is an absolute fact that God has never promised an easy or comfortable life in the Scripture. Instead, He promises Glory for those who would let go of control of their life’s outcome, to partner with Him in His plan for the earth. Thankfully, after a year of laying on one side of his body and eating food cooked over animal crap (see Ezekiel 4 and then be thankful that you have not been called to a prophetic ministry like Ezekiel’s), Ezekiel has become a rather obedient and keen listener responding quickly to the Lord's invitation. The Lord asks Zeke, “Can I bring life to such a hopeless situation?” Zeke responds to the question by pretty much saying, “Only you could do something so wonderful, God, so what do you have in mind?” Zeke’s response is one of humility and worship of God's sovereignty. I believe it’s this heart posture that enables Zeke to partner with what God does THROUGH Zeke next. Instead of doing the work himself, God reveals to Zeke why He brought him to the valley to begin with. He then has Zeke speak life into the hopeless situation, which then completely changes the landscape. Thus exemplifying the power of the voice of a believer to change the world around them. The longer you complain and curse the situation you have been put in, the further you are leading yourself away from what God has purposed for you. Your words carry life and death. You can either declare in partnership with God despite what you see, or exalt your flesh and agree with the hopelessness through the power of complaining. A tender and responsive heart to God’s leadership will always manifest words that build heaven. What you speak reveals the leadership of your heart.
Moving on, I want to point out and introduce something new to us. I have never paid much attention to it before. If you notice there are two commands for Zeke to speak that bring different results into the dry bones. The first, is the word of encouragement (verses 4-6) that sparks the possibility for life. The word of encouragement creates the reality of life into God’s people where only death had been previously known. Encouragement creates a vessel, in a person, to hold the work of God.
The second word (verses 9-10), which is just as important, is the invitation for the wind or the Spirit of God to come and consume the people Zeke has been sent to. This word brings a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit to turn the now lifeless bodies that were once dry bones, to become a mighty living army for the Lord. It’s important to see this, because I believe one word without the other cannot work as intended.
The church has to be willing to prophesy destiny and also boldly call for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Encouragement by itself can be a form of religion, as well as calling for the outpouring of the Spirit without first preparing hearts to receive Him. We have to first encourage people in a way where they can be positioned to receive. After almost a decade of ministry in Appalachia, I can testify that this is true. Telling people they need Holy Spirit without first telling them they are worthy to receive Him, is almost as dangerous as not going to them. Encouragement and prophesying destiny sparks hope. Also, the ability to look out of one's own hopelessness so they can position themselves to receive. Encouragement stirs a spiritual hunger in a person. In the same way, if we are solely focused on speaking encouragement and destiny and never calling the consuming work of the Holy Spirit to come, we leave people as lifeless as a corpse. They may be a little better off than before, but not standing and walking as designed and purposed by Jesus. In the Scripture above, God leads Zeke to first speak destiny over the bones. This word positions the bones to receive the next word that releases life and fulfills destiny, which is the invitation of the Holy Spirit. One word does not work without the other. As a church of leaders and ministers we cannot compromise partnering with God and speaking His Word into the people and places we have been led. All the while boldly encouraging and calling out destiny, and the power and consuming work of Holy Spirit to fulfill said destiny.
I am asking the Lord to continue to help me learn this principle of speaking encouragement and destiny, and inviting the power of Holy Spirit into the places He has called me. I’m asking He would help me be more sensitive to His invitation and then speak His Words that would build His Kingdom as I let go of my control.