flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.
Could God do this? Could He take dead dried bones and put muscles and skin and flesh on them? If there is anyone who doubts God’s power to do this, turn to Genesis 2:7: The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. In our text God at least had bones to start with. At the creation of man He had dirt.
We just smile and say, Yup, I knew that God could do that. So I prophesied as I was commanded.
And as I was prophesying there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. There were bodies, whole bodies with every body part there. But they did not move. They lacked one important thing: There was no breath in them. They were just dead bodies.
That is what our bodies are without that special gift of God. Call it what you want, breath, life or soul. It is what gives life to an otherwise lifeless body. Genesis tells us: God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. The KJV says: Man became a living soul. God did the same thing here: Then He said to me, Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it: This is what the Sovereign Lord says: come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army.
Sounds a lot like Pentecost, doesn’t it? Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. (Acts 2:2) It was the Holy Spirit that entered into the disciples that first Pentecost as they gathered in fear of what would happen to them as Jesus’ disciples. He made them living, breathing soldiers for Christ. He gave them the ability and the desire to tell others about Christ.
There was an important lesson for Ezekiel and the people of Israel with this prophesy. Remember that at this time the Israelites were in captivity in Babylon. For most of them the nation of Israel was dead – like dry bones. This prophecy told them that God still had the power to deliver them even though things seemed to be so hopeless. Can you see the message for them? Israel will live again. Just like those dry bones will live, so the nation of Israel will live again. God is able to do that. We know that this is part of the prophecy because the Lord tells us: Then he said to me: Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land.
What is the message for us today? It is the same message that Jesus gave to Nicodemus: I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So is everyone born of the Spirit.
We have been born of the Spirit. Whenever we came to faith, the Holy Spirit entered into us. Without that, even though we had the physical breathe of life, we were dead. Can you see that? Without the working of the Holy Spirit we are dry bones. Only God could make us spiritually alive. Only He could breath into us the breathe of eternal life. The Holy Spirit, like the wind, entered into us and we are no longer dry dead bones, but souls live in Christ.
Certainly the Easter message as spoken to Martha is in here: Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. If the world lasts that long we will die. We will become dry bones like those of Ezekiel.