Daily Reflections October 4, 2017
The imagery in today’s text is striking! Dry bones come together and then God breathes his life into the reconstructed beings. As we consider the imagery, we must ask the question: What is the message of this prophecy?
An important clue is found in verse 11:
“Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.” (Ezekiel 37:11a ESV)
That’s a helpful piece of information. The dead bones represent the house of Israel. For a refresher on why God might choose to illustrate them in such an unflattering way, review Ezekiel 36. The people were utterly rebellious – so awful in fact that God discarded them like a filthy rag (v.17). He poured his wrath for sin upon them (v.18) and exiled them into the nations. The image of lifeless, scattered bones would have been easy to understand for Jews living in exile in Babylon. About a generation earlier the Northern tribes had been massacred by the Assyrians.
The hopelessness that these Jewish people would have felt is beyond our understanding.
But God, in his love and mercy, does not abandon His people. He miraculously brings the pieces together and the bones interlock with sinews and become covered with skin. Yet, the bodies are still lifeless. There is no life without the breath of God. Israel had forgotten this along the way. They trusted in horses and chariots and forgot that they were made to trust in the Living God who made the heavens and the earth and the chariots and horses.
In the next image, two rods are bound together. These rods represent the Northern and Southern tribes of Israel – the tribes that had been living apart from one another ever since Solomon’s son Rehoboam had caused a revolt with his arrogance (1 Kings 12).
God’s people were constantly divided. Arrogant, foolish, selfish leaders had left the nation of Israel scattered, torn and in shambles.
But God promises to bring the bones back together – to once again unite the two rods (or the two kingdoms). He promises to breathe life into the reconstructed remains and to send an everlasting King to lead the peoples into obedience. He promises to restore all that which was lost and, what’s more, He promises that his dwelling – His very presence – will be with His people forever.
What does this passage mean for us today? Just like Israel, we were rebels who deserved to be scattered and destroyed. God’s wrath was against us because of our sin. But God sent an everlasting King to conquer our enemy and to restore to us everything that we had lost in our rebellion. That King is Jesus and that enemy is the Devil with his weapons: sin and death. The believer is the one who has received the breath of God – the promised Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells within every believer (Gal. 4:6) and thus, God is present with His people in a way that would have seemed impossible to the Israelites of Ezekiel’s day.
You and I are now standing in the valley of dry bones, and we are watching as God spectacularly breathes His life into the bodies around us. Believers are walking miracles. We are reflections of God’s grace and His desire to make all things new. Let us never forget this truth.
Pastor Levi denBok
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God…(Acts 16:25 ESV)
It is not difficult to praise God when the sun is shining, but can we praise God in the dark night of the soul? The Apostle Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned and yet at midnight, they worshiped!
Psalm 88 brings us the dark experience of a greatly troubled soul. It is a lamentation, the darkest of all the psalms. The Psalmist feels the dread of the wrath of God pressing upon him. The opening verses begin with a cry for rescue,
O Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out day and night before you. Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry! (Psalm 88:1-2 ESV)
Our Father is the God of our salvation and regardless of our circumstances, we must look to him. We should not doubt in the darkness what we know to be true in the light. Isaiah tells us this exact thing:
Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. (Isaiah 50:10 ESV)
However, unlike many other lament psalms, here there is no note of praise and no sense of resolution. In the final verse, he is abandoned and alone, with the cold, silent darkness as his only friend.
You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness. (Psalm 88:18 ESV)
What can we learn from this Psalm?
1. In the darkness, pray (see verses 2, 9, 13). It is hard to pray when you are weary and don’t sense your prayers are being heard (see verse 14). At times God seems deaf to our cries. Yet, by God’s grace, as an act of faith, turn to the Lord and say, “Lord, help me, I need you.”
But I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. (Psalm 88:13 ESV)
2. In the darkness, be honest with God. Pour out your heart and tell Jesus your troubles.
For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol. I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am a man who has no strength, like one set loose among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave…(Psalm 88:3-5 ESV)
The hymnwriter Elisha Hoffman penned these words,
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus! I cannot bear my burdens alone;
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus! Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.
3. In the darkness, remember Jesus, the Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3). Reread this Psalm again and imagine these words are coming from the lips of the Lord Jesus, in the house of Caiaphas, in the early hours of the day he was crucified. Jesus’ soul was in agony and sorrowful unto death (Mark 14:34). He like no other felt the furious wrath of God.
Jesus can sympathize with you. He was tempted and tortured, betrayed and beaten, disowned and despised (Hebrews 4:15). Hoffman again exhorts us,
Tempted and tried I need a great Saviour, One who can help my burdens to bear;
I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus: He all my cares and sorrows will share.
Jesus has faced the blackest of darkness and overcome it. He is with you in yours. Tell Jesus of your troubles. He will help you!
Associate Pastor Jody Cross