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The Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones

The future bodily resurrection promised in Scripture is one in which God’s people will receive glorified bodies that will never die. “And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.” Ezekiel 37:3 The Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones Ezekiel 37 is a famous passage that records Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones. This vision took place while Israel was in Babylonian captivity (so sometime between 586 B.C. and 538 B.C.). Yahweh brought Ezekiel out in His Spirit to a valley of dry bones. The bones that are raised to life are then described as “an exceedingly great army”. So this scene suggests the aftermath of a battle. God asked Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones live?” Ezekiel responded, “O Lord GOD, you know.” Ezekiel may have been hesitant, but he knew that God was able to raise bones to life. Ezekiel was told to prophesy the following to the bones: “O dry bones, hear the word of Yahweh . . . I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live . . . You shall live, and you shall knew that I am Yahweh.” So when Ezekiel prophesied, there was a "rattling" (or an "earthquake." The bones came together, and then flesh and skin came on them, “But there was no breath in them.” So Ezekiel prophesied “to the breath”—“Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live” 37:9. Breath came into the bones and they lived 37:10. God made dead bones rise to life, and He did this by giving to the bones His live-giving breath. And we know that it is God’s Spirit that brings life. The coming of breath to the bones in Ezekiel 37 recalls God’s life-giving breath to Adam. Just as God gave Adam breath for life in Genesis 2, so He also gave the dead bones breath for life in Ezekiel 37. The difference is that Adam was new life, while the bones in Ezekiel were brought back to life. They were resurrected “Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” One Metaphor is that Ezekiel 37’s allusion to future bodily resurrection is consistent with how other Old Testament passages foretell a future bodily resurrection. These passages include: Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead (Isaiah 26:19). Most of these references to bodily resurrection in the Old Testament are mere allusions. They are not explicit like the New Testament’s teaching on resurrection. Some liberal scholars may deny that some or all of these Old Testament passages foreshadow a future bodily resurrection. They foretell a future bodily resurrection but usually do not make an outright claim. Combined with the chapter's connection to the new covenant, this supports the understanding that Ezekiel 37 also foreshadows a future bodily resurrection. It should also be noted that there were actual bodily resurrections in the Old Testament. Elijah raised a widow’s son, Elisha raised the Shunammite’s son, and a man who touched Elisha’s bones was revived. This practice was continued in the New Testament with Jesus’ raising of Lazarus. Of course, these were only resuscitations, as these people all died again. The future bodily resurrection promised in Scripture is one in which God’s people will receive glorified bodies that will never die. This is what Jesus received at His resurrection, and it is what His followers will receive at His return. The Spirit who gives God's people new hearts and returned Israel to the land is the same Spirit who will raise God's people to life at the last day. Bodily resurrection is the glorious hope of the Christian life, and it is gloriously tucked away throughout the Old Testament. PRAYER O Lord Our God, with all of the goings on here on the earth, when so many of your people have gone astray, where there is so much division between nations, where there is so much sickness and disease, where the world thinks it’s ok to sin and we don't lknow right from wrong and so many of us have gotten away from your word and your commands, we ask for your forgiveness. Please receive our heartfelt remorse over your sheep that have gone astray. We pray you help us find your lost sheep and bring them back into the fold. Father God we know your return is eminent. You left us signs to follow. But our hope is in the resurrection. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, You Lord God will bring back with him the believers who have died. We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. You told us to encourage each other with these words. It is in Jesus' name we pray and give thanks, Amen.

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