Ezekiel 37:1–3, 11–14, 23–28comment (0)
July 10, 2014
By Douglas K. Wilson, Ph.D.
Related Scripture: Ezekiel 37:1–3, 11–14, 23–28
Explore the Bible
Dean, School of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile
HOPE OF NEW LIFE
Ezekiel 37:1–3, 11–14, 23–28
Hope, in biblical terms, is confident assurance that what God says, He will do. In the passage for this week’s study, the hope that God offers is new life through death and resurrection. Followers of Christ are aware that the gospel is defined by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:3–4).
Visions of hope follow prophetic oracles of judgment in Ezekiel. Throughout the judgments, specific peoples are named who are worthy of God’s wrath for their rejection of Him as the one true God. Throughout these oracles, God speaks through the prophet to announce that His purpose for retribution is “that they will know that I am Yahweh.” As the book transitions from oracles of wrath to visions of hope, God’s purpose remains constant, “that they [or you] will know that I am Yahweh.” God Himself is the measure of our hope.
Possibility of New Life (1–3, 11)
Before the prophet is a valley of human bones, a picture of the spiritual deadness that characterizes both Israel and Judah who have been scattered among the nations. God asks Ezekiel if these dry bones will live again. Humanly speaking, they cannot. After all, who ever heard of a cemetery full of dead men putting on flesh again? Biblical faith takes us beyond the mere observations of men.
Readers must keep in mind that resurrection was a known concept in the Old Testament. Early on, Abraham believed that God could raise Isaac from the dead to keep his promise (Heb. 11:19). Job confessed his belief both in the Redeemer and in resurrection (Job 19:25–26). David anticipated the resurrection of Christ (Ps. 16:10; see Acts 2:27–32; 13:35–37). As the Babylonian exile drew to a close, Daniel wrote of the two future resurrections of saved and lost people (Dan. 12:2). The post-exilic prophet Zechariah prophesied of the resurrected Christ (Zech. 12:10).
Process of New Life (12–14)
God initiates the revival of dry bones to living flesh. Through Ezekiel’s prophesying over the bones, God breathes life into this valley of dry bones, and bones are animated with sinew, muscle, skin, breath, life and knowledge. Note that these revived men will “know that I am Yahweh” (37:6, 13–14). God is promising new life that comes from the indwelling Spirit of God, through faith in Jesus as Messiah.
The timing of regeneration is the subject of much theological debate. God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are both factors in this mysterious transaction, resulting in a person who has been convicted and convinced of his sin, the righteousness of Christ alone, and the certainty of coming judgment. That person has repented of his sins and has trusted that Jesus’ righteous death and resurrection has purchased his forgiveness and everlasting life.
Portrait of New Life (23–28)
God’s people, beginning with the scattered nations of Israel and Judah, will be restored, united and saved through new life in the promised Redeemer. This prophecy anticipates the New Covenant fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah.
New life in Christ is described in a variety of ways in the New Testament. Jesus instructs Nicodemus that saving faith requires being “born again” (John 3:3, 7). To the church at Rome, Paul explains that believers are to be “transformed” (Rom. 12:2). To the Corinthians, Paul also writes that followers of Jesus are new creations. “The old is passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Jesus uses the metaphor of vineyard husbandry to describe disciples and their life in Him. He is the grapevine, and God the Father is the vinedresser. Disciples are branches, shoots growing on the vine. The Father receives glory from the life of the branches when they remain connected to the vine and bear a plentiful harvest of fruit (John 15:1–8).