The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
One of my favourite passages in the whole Bible, one of those “Go to’s” when times are hard or when it seems difficult to see a way out. Hardly surprising, for that is exactly the situation Ezekiel was in. Israel it seemed was doomed, its existence was far from certain, its destruction almost inevitable.
To all intents and purposes its prospects were as dead as the men to whom these dry bones belonged. The dead had been left unburied, an insult on the dead by the living. What these men had done we do not know; perhaps they died running from battle, perhaps they had attempted to mount a rebellion. Whatever had happened, the living did not consider them worth taking the trouble to dig graves for them and their bones were left to bleach in the fierce sun.
Yet, dishonourable and shame ridden as they were, God found a purpose for them even in their disgrace. He could show how his power could reverse all setbacks and bring new life and new hope to the most desolate.
As we become accustomed to queueing outside shops, stepping off pavements to give each other room, as we forget about going out to meet friends, as we dread every new cough or chill we feel, as we wonder if there will ever come a time when we can do anything again without planning or thinking about it, we may feel life will never be as it was before this pandemic started.
We can though – remember Ezekiel and this field of lifeless bones. God breathed upon them and they grew sinew and flesh, drew breath again.
This time of fear will pass, the dry bones of our hopes and expectations will come to life again, we shall again see a time when ambition stretches beyond, making it through the next few weeks and live our lives fully again.
If we have faith.
Lord God our loving Father in Heaven, Hear us, for we are desolate, our hopes are dashed, our dreams are gone. What, Lord, do we have to hope for?
We have your promise that you will not forsake us,
We have your assurance that you will be with us even to the end,
Give us, we pray, courage to carry on,
Give us, we pray, wisdom to see what your will is in all this,
Give us, we pray, the knowledge that you will breathe life again into the dry bones of all we hold dear,
Give us, we pray, those great three gifts; faith, hope and love, that we may see this time of trial through.
In your Mercy hear our prayer.