The Valley of Dry Bones
Ezekiel Prophesies to Dry Bones and Breathes Life into Them
One of the most evocative images in the book of Ezekiel is him speaking to dry bones scattered before him. It’s a valley of dry bones. The bones animate and reassemble. Tendons connect them. Flesh covers the skeletons. Breath enters these reconstituted bodies, mere corpses, and they live again.
It’s powerful imagery, the dead becoming alive. But what does it mean?
Fortunately, God explains it to Ezekiel
The bones represent the people of Israel. They are dried up. Their hope is gone. Cut off. Effectively, they are dead.
God will open their graves, resurrecting them to bring them home.
In addition to restoring their physical life, he will give them a spiritual life too. He will put his spirit in them. Then they will live. Truly live.
As with most prophecies, this one contains multiple applications.
The first is for his audience of that day, Israel. The people overflow with discouragement and are without hope. God reminds them that they can place their hope in him. He will restore them as a nation and bring them back from captivity and return them to the land he promised for them.
We can also see this passage looking forward prophetically to Jesus. Consider two items: the prophecy of graves opening and God putting his spirit in his people so they can truly live.
When Jesus dies the curtain in the temple rips in half from top to bottom, symbolically allowing us to directly approach God. There is an earthquake and tombs break open. Bodies of many holy people come to life. We don’t know who they are or have a count, just that there are many, and they lived holy lives (Matthew 27:51-53).
Next, consider Pentecost. Jesus’s squad waits in Jerusalem for the special gift that Papa will send them. A violent wind sounds. Something like tongues of fire hover over each person. And the Holy Spirit fills them with supernatural power (Acts 2:1-4).When Jesus dies the curtain in the temple is torn open from top to bottom, symbolically allowing us to directly approach God. Click To Tweet
To wrap things up, the Holy Spirit and Jesus invites them—and us—to come and receive the gift of life (Revelation 22:17).
These are some of the key things we can learn from Ezekiel and the valley of dry bones.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.