There are highs and lows in life right? Have you ever experienced a “mountaintop” experience? The place where it feels as if God is moving powerfully just for you? That place where all feels right in your life? That’s a mountaintop experience, but there are also valleys in life. There are valleys in your walk with God. There are times when it feels as if you’re alone. It feels as if God has left you for dead.
You become discouraged. You don’t have the victory. The valley’s a cold place. It’s the last place the sun reaches in the morning. How often in life do we find ourselves in that kind of place?
Today, in our text God speaks to that:
Ezekiel 37:1-10 (NKJV)
37:1 The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2 Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. 3 And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" So I answered, "O Lord God, You know." 4 Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: "Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6 I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord." ' " 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. 9 Also He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, 'Thus says the Lord God: "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live." ' " 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
The Dry Bones
God sets Ezekiel into the valley. The valley isn't the mountaintop. It’s a low place. It can be a difficult place. There’s no vision in the valley; all you can see are the edges of the valley.
It’s not like the mountaintop. You can see the power of God on the mountaintop. You can see the larger vision on the mountaintop. You can see the work of God. It isn't hemmed in – vision isn't limited.
The mountaintop is the place where you meet with God. Moses met with God on the mountaintop. Abraham saw God’s provision on the mountaintop. The mountaintop is the place where you find yourself in the presence of God. God revealed Himself to Elijah on the mountain top.
The valley is the lowest place. It’s the place from where we have to climb. When we’re in the valley we often struggle. In our text, the valley is the place of the dry bones: The place of death and failure; the place of discouragement.
Psalms 42:5 (NKJV)
42:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.
Why are you cast down, O my soul? Why are you discouraged? The psalmist is discouraged. His soul is no longer on the mountaintop, it has been cast down into the valley.
Psalms 23:4a (NKJV)
23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…
This is the place Ezekiel has come to, the valley of Death: the place of the dry bones. God has brought him here to show him something. “Can these dry bones live?” Ezekiel says, “I don’t know – You know God.” How much is he like us? God is asking him, “Is the impossible, possible?” Ezekiel doesn't know – He can’t see the possibility.
It’s easy to believe in God’s power on the mountaintop. When you’re on the mountaintop you can believe God for anything, but what about when you’re in the valley and you’re up against the facts. Those bones are dead! It isn't easy to believe they can live. It’s hard to see the possibilities when everything that you can see is dead. When you’re struggling it isn't easy to believe that God can do the impossible for you. Can these bones live? God says they can.
Ezekiel is in the valley, he’s looking over the bones: They’re dead; they’re lifeless. There’s no movement. There’s no momentum. Nothing’s happening. They’re scattered all over the valley. They can’t be put back together again.
Ezekiel isn't seeing the power of God at this moment. He’s seeing only death and failure. He’s seeing only discouragement, and God asks him, “Can these bones live?” Can these dry bones live? God says they can! God tells him, “Prophesy!”
Prophecy isn't just telling the future. Prophecy is speaking the Word of God. God would give the words to the prophets, and they would speak them to the people: Straight from God’s mouth to the ears of the people. “Thus says the Lord God to these bones…” God speaks into the problems and disappointments in people’s lives.
Can these bones live? God says they can! It’s something He will do. It’s something that comes through the Word of God. God will give them life. God will raise them up. That’s sounds like preacher talk, but it isn't. God has the power to raise you up out of the valley of your circumstances. God can make the dead bones in your life live.
The failures: The times when you wanted to live the will of God for your life, but failed. The disappointment, the betrayals, the hurts: The times when you thought God wasn't there for you. When you had needs that seemed to go unmet. You can stand in the middle of THAT valley in despair; stationary, immobile, paralyzed and you won’t see anything happen. You can’t get to the mountaintop, if you don’t move forward. God says “Prophesy!” Speak the words of God. God doesn't speak failure; God speaks life.
John 6:66-68 (NKJV)
6:66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
Jesus has just come off the mountain. He’s been on the mountain with His disciples (John 6:3). While He’s there he feeds five thousand men and their families; a powerful miracle. They can see the power of God: They believe Him. On the mountain you can believe. Then, He leaves the mountain, crosses the sea. He’s in a low place now. He’s in the valley, and the people come to Him again.
He begins to preach. He speaks to them about the Bread of Life, but they have come for the material bread, and they can’t believe. “This is a hard saying, who can believe it?” So, they leave. He’s in the valley. It’s a valley of dry bones. It looks like failure; everybody has left. So he turns to the disciples, and says what? Are you leaving, too? Are you giving up, too? You can see their response in verse 68:
John 6:68 (NKJV)
6:68 But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (emphasis mine)
“Where would we go, You have the words of Eternal Life.” God speaks LIFE – Dry bones LIVE in the Word of God. Prophesy! Speak life into your circumstances. Speak life into your failures. Speak life into your despair and disappointments. Don’t dwell on what isn't happening. Speak what CAN happen. Don’t get stuck on the dry bones. Speak what God has promised. God said to the dry bones, live, and they came together. It was something God did, but Ezekiel had a role to play. Ezekiel had to speak the words. Ezekiel had to prophesy.
God did it. The Word of God touched them. They moved and rattled and came together. The Word of God touched them. The Word of God moved them. The words spoken by Ezekiel brought them together, but it was the Spirit of God that gave them life. It was something that God did.
Ezekiel spoke the words that activated a move of God. Ezekiel spoke the words that activated the Spirit of God and the Spirit gave them life. God did it; God moved. It isn't any power in Ezekiel. Ezekiel didn't do a miracle. He was only obedient to speak the Word of God and the Spirit of God made them live.
It’s really hard sometimes, isn't it? We don’t see anything happening. We’re struggling with the same problems day after day. We’re stuck; we’re not getting anywhere and we begin to speak out of our bitterness.
“It’s not going to work out.”
“God brought us out here to die.”
We begin to speak words of failure and disappointment. We begin to speak defeat. We’re not speaking life into our circumstances. We’re speaking death. We’re prophesying failure. We’re speaking of the dry bones. God calls us to command life.
“With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Those dead bones can live. Prophesy! Speak life!
An Exceedingly Great Army
Finally, our text tells us that when the bones came alive they were an exceedingly great army. An army represents a nation’s power. An army is made up of individuals who become one powerful unit. An army is the sum total of the strength of individuals.
The dry bones of failure, disappointment, and struggle; while they are still dry bones there’s no power there. While we’re seeing those things as dry bones they have no power. They represent only death, but after a move of God they lend their strength to an army. What you’re struggling with now, what you see as weakness now, can be turned into strength. As we overcome, as we struggle through things, after we have gone through them we are made stronger. We become more powerful. Failure can make you stronger if you press through it. Disappointment can be turned into hope. Despair can be turned into resolve.
Once those bones came alive they were able to move. They were no longer stationary; no longer scattered. They became a powerful army. Now they have the power to move. Now they can ascend the mountain. Now they can rise out of the low place. Now there's strength and power available. Can these bones live? God says they can!
If you want to see victory, you have to do something. You can’t sit around and wait for God to move. You can’t sit around despairing over all the problems. You have to do something. It’s up to you to activate a move of God in your life. It’s up to you to stop dwelling on despair and defeat. If you prophesy that nothing will happen…then nothing WILL happen. But if you speak the power of God into that despair, then a miraculous change can take place.
Ezekiel was in that valley pondering the future of Israel. The bones represent the nation of Israel.
Ezekiel 37:11 (NKJV)
37:11 Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, 'Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!'
Is that you? Is that what you say? Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we’re cut off or separated from God? Are you feeling like you've been left for dead? Are you feeling like you’re hopeless to overcome the problems and struggles in your life? Are you wondering where God is? Has He forsaken you? Are you feeling like dry bones?
If you do then you’re like Ezekiel. He doesn't know if they can live again. He’s not sure if God can do something. He sees only the bones he doesn't see the possibilities. He doesn't know if the dry bones can live, but God knows. God hasn't left them for dead. He raised them – dry bones CAN live. The Spirit of God can bring them to life. Contend for the Spirit of God. Prophesy – Speak Life!