Ezekiel was a Levitical priest who was apprehended from his home in Jerusalem and deported to live as an exile in Babylon. As the book of Ezekiel begins, the priest/prophet is sitting in stunned silence beside the Chebar Canal, probably an irrigation ditch fed by the Euphrates River.
After living in a foreign country for twelve miserable years, Ezekiel received the devastating news that Jerusalem had been ransacked, the city walls demolished, and the temple destroyed (Ezekiel 33). Israel’s hope was dashed, and Ezekiel was in despair. Without pulling any punches, God spoke to Ezekiel. “Son of man, while the house of Israel lived in their land, they defiled it with their conduct and actions ... I poured out my wrath on them because of the blood they had shed on the land, and because they had defiled it with their idols... I judged them according to their conduct and actions” (Ezekiel 36:17–19). God is righteous and holy, and the just judgement of sin in death! (Romans 6:23).
But the covenant-keeping God was still on the throne. It’s never too late, it’s never hopeless with an All-Powerful, Living God! To prove it, God demonstrated His power and purpose. Here it is, in Ezekiel’s words: the Valley of Dry Bones.
“The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by his Spirit and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them. There were a great many of them on the surface of the valley, and they were very dry. Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I replied, ‘Lord God, only you know.’ He said to me, ‘Prophesy concerning these bones and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Lord God says to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you will live. I will put tendons on you, make flesh grow on you, and cover you with skin. I will put breath in you so that you come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’ So I prophesied as I had been commanded. While I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. As I looked, tendons appeared on them, flesh grew, and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man. Say to it: This is what the Lord God says: Breath, come from the four winds and breathe into these slain so that they may live!’ So I prophesied as he commanded me; the breath entered them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, a vast army. Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Look how they say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished; we are cut off.” Therefore, prophesy and say to them, “This is what the Lord God says: I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them, my people, and lead you into the land of Israel. You will know that I am the Lord, my people, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 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 am the Lord. I have spoken, and I will do it. This is the declaration of the Lord” ’ ” (Ezekiel 37:1–14).
The Creator-God who had “formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils” (Genesis 2:7) was certainly able to restore a lifeless, hopeless nation. And He is still able to overcome death, to breathe life into death, to cause a spiritually dead person to be “born again” (John 3:7).
Don’t despair. It’s never too late. Trust Jesus, the Father of mercies and God of hope.
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.