Can These Bones Live?

April 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

Ezekiel 37:1-14 begins with a riddle:  “Son of man, can these bones live?” (37:3).  After seeing the valley full of dry, brittle bones, the prophet meekly responds with an exasperated, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know” (37:3).  David Garber writes about this passage:  “We cannot fully comprehend the magnificent hope in the latter verses of this passage without some attention to why Ezekiel’s response is so resigned.  Before we can watch the wind swirl the bones back together and marvel at the newly formed humans breathing the breath of life again, we have to ask a few questions.  Why is the valley full of bones?  What caused the visions of death that the community faced?  What has brought Ezekiel to the point of near speechlessness and despair?”  For Ezekiel (if we read the rest of the book of Ezekiel) the answered lied in the historical circumstances of Babylonians  torturing the inhabitants of Jerusalem with siege warfare that lasted almost two years, leading to famine, disease, and despair (see also, 2 Kings 25:3).  This led to the destruction of the temple and Babylonian exile.  But what would the answer to these questions be for us?  Is there anything happening in the world around you and me, or in our lives, that makes it difficult for us to believe that God can again bring the dry bones to life?  Because that is indeed the test of trusting God:  to anticipate and expect that God will show up on the gusts of the Holy Spirit to bring new life where death is imminent.


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