[Column] Dry Bones, Come to Life!

While in Kenya to lead a leadership conference, I once visited a poverty-stricken village. Almost half a million people inhabited the vast village without TVs, refrigerators, washing machines, or toilets. Their only toilet was the reed field in the vicinity, where a heap of trash and dead bodies were also found. Children were roaming around the village begging for money. I knew that it was not just poverty but the spirit of darkness and the virus of desolation that grabbed hold of the village. Their faces were downcast with destitution, discouragement, and misery instead of hope of life. How heartbroken I was. This experience served as a reminder of Ezekiel’s prophecy of dry bones (Ezekiel Chapter 37).

The valley of dry bones represents the status of Israel at the time. Through its disobedience and contempt, Israel brought upon it destruction and spiritual desolation. How agonizing and troubled it must have been to have the bones dried up. “Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off” (Ezekiel 37:11). Today there are many churches like dry bones; there are many Christians like dry bones. When we feel as though life is a tomb, we must keep in mind that only God is the hope of our lives:  “I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:12). How do dry bones come to life?

They do so by the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Ezekiel prophesies over the bones and say, “O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD” (Ezekiel 37:4). Then the bones come together and flesh and skin grow and cover them (Ezekiel 37:7-8). What people need to regain life is not fortune or knowledge, but the Word of God. Therefore we must hold on to the Word. Yet, the presence of life in the Word is very weak thus Ezekiel prophesies, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live” (Ezekiel 37:9). The breath represents the work of the Holy Spirit. The repentance and renewal of the Israelites is possible only when God pour down upon them the new spirit. God says, “I will put my Spirit in you and you will live” (Ezekiel 37:14). The Word is powerful, but it has its limit in building up a person. The power of the Spirit as well as heartfelt intercessions is equally needed. If our souls are to live, they must be soaked in the anointing of God just like Elijah’s outer garment (2 Kings Chapter 2).

When the breath and the Word fall upon the dry bones, they become a mighty army. Ezekiel’s prophecy of the dry bones is an eschatological vision. God in the last days is raising up His army. Equipped with the Word and the Holy Spirit, it is a powerful army engaging in spiritual battles. The army of God has God-given dreams and must be strong and fearless for the outcome of spiritual warfare is determined by attitude. Charles Wesley wrote a famous hymn entitled Soldiers of Christ, Arise:

Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armour on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies through His eternal Son.
Strong in the Lord of hosts, and in His mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts is more than conqueror.
Stand then in His great might, with all His strength endued,
But take, to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God;
That, having all things done, and all your conflicts passed,
Ye may o’ercome through Christ alone and stand entire at last.

Do any of you feel like dried bones? Are you despondent in heart and spirit? I declare before you, “O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Let the breath of life enter you. Dry bones, come to life and arise!” May you join the army of the Spirit of God and fulfill your God-given ministry in the end times.

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