You are led into a valley. Stone walls rise up on either side of you. The sun, still low in the sky, touches only the rim of the canyon, and the floor is still darkened. The ground is jagged and crunches with each careful step you take, and as your eyes adjust you make out the shapes of a rib cage here, a jaw bone there. Countless bones dried by the heat of the many days they’ve laid dead in their valley. This is the scene of Ezekiel 37, and the condition of our lives apart from Christ. Sin doesn’t just send us down into the valley away from the light, but it makes us dead, dry bones destined to be crushed and whither over time. The good news of the gospel is that God doesn’t leave us that way.
As Ezekiel looked upon this very scene, the Lord spoke to him:
He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” (Ezekiel 37:3 ESV)
And God gives Ezekiel a Word to speak to the bones:
This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. (Ezekiel 37:5)
God goes on to explain to Ezekiel that the bones represent his people, and through the Word that He gives him, the bones are given skin and breath. They become an army prepared to serve the living God. This is the work of Christ in us, He takes what was dead, unable to bring itself to life, and gives hope to a hopeless situation. Even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:5).
If I’m being entirely honest, there are still times I feel like dry bones. There are still times when I am blind to the flesh and breath that I have been so mercifully given. There are times when I look at the brokenness in my life and still wonder “can these bones live?” There are times when I buy into the lies of the devil because of the guilt or shame I feel for my sin, and I forget the work that Christ has done in me.
These moments are the reason that I need to hear the Gospel every single day. I need to be reminded that Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and rose again. I need to be reminded that I have been brought from death to life and that there are no powers of this world that can take that from me. God has given me life and freedom that I may live for the one who died for me and set me free.
Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, 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 the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD. (Ezekiel 37:13-14)