Ezekiel 37: 1-2
The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me to and fro among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.
Psalm 31: 24
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
Psalm 42: 5
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.
Romans 15: 13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Ezekiel is set down in a valley – but this is no ordinary valley with green grass and flowing rivers. It’s like a scene from a horror movie. A valley full of dead people’s bones. Not just a few – but a great many bones. Skulls and shoulder blades, kneecaps and ribs, femurs and vertebrae, hipbones and anklebones and finger bones, all by the thousands. It’s like those awful news reports where they discover a mass grave where there’s perhaps been genocide.
Look at the state of the bones – they are very dry as if they’d all been lying out there on public display, exposed, bleached from baking in the hot sun for a long, long time. It’s shameful. No one even cares enough to give them a funeral. Notice it’s not even ordered skeletons. It’s just piles of bones - disordered, dismembered. It’s a picture of death, devastation, hopelessness, helplessness.
What is this all about? What is God showing Ezekiel?
God is giving Ezekiel a vivid picture of Israel’s spiritual condition. We see that in verse 11:
“Then he said to me: ‘Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.” (v 11)
God’s people are spiritually dry and dead. There is no spiritual life in them whatsoever. No vitality, no passion, no devotion.
Their disobedience to God had created distance from God. And because God is their source of life - this distance from God then caused spiritual dryness and death. It’s like a deep sea diver being cut off from their oxygen tank. Eventually they will lose their life.
Israel, cut off from the life of God, now find themselves spiritually dead, scattered, defeated, done.
Maybe that’s where you find yourself today – spiritually dead, lifeless, no passion, no purpose, no sense of God’s presence. You just feel empty, dry, desperate, like you’re suffocating. Like these bones, your life is all over the place, scattered, fragmented, disordered, chaotic. Maybe you know it’s your own sin and disobedience that got you this way. But you don’t want to stay this way. You need something to change, it has to, you’re desperate. You need God to do something – you’ve tried things your way for too long.
Swiss theologian Emil Brunner wrote, “What oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope for the meaning of life.” No matter what place you find yourself in today, however dark your situation, difficult your circumstances, painful your problems, you need to know - there is still hope. Things can change. Our God is "the God of hope" (Rom 15: 13) and He promises "...those who hope in me will not be disappointed." (Is 49: 23)