Sermon 5/24/2015 Pentecost

Pentecost Sunday – May 24, 2015 Ezekiel 37:1-14
Pastor Don Ninmer

“Then He said to me, Prophesy to these bones and say to them, Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath to enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make 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.” (Ezekiel 37:4-6)

Have you ever heard the song called “Dry Bones” or “Dem Bones?” It has been sung by such famous people such as Rosemary Clooney, the Lennon Sisters, the Mills Brothers, Tennessee Ernie Ford and even Alvin and the Chipmunks. It is a well known spiritual song. The melody was composed by African- American author and songwriter James Weldon Johnson. It was first recorded in 1928.

We are told in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: “The lyrics were inspired by Ezekiel 37:1-4, where the prophet visits the valley of dry bones and prophesies that they will one day be resurrected at God’s command, picturing the national resurrection of Israel.” Perhaps you have figured out by now that this is our text on this Pentecost Sunday.

I am going to read some of the words of the song. You have to promise that you are not going to snap your fingers or clap your hands when I am reading them. Ezekiel connected dem dry bones – The toe bone connected to the foot bone – the foot bone connected to the heel bone – the heel bone connected to the ankle bone –The thigh bone connected to the hip bone – the hip bone connected to the back bone – the back bone connected to the shoulder bone - Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones – Now hear the word of the Lord.

The song pictures the reconstruction of dead human bodies. It pictures dead human bodies being put back together again. How silly that is! According to human reason and according to nature this is impossible – that dead, dry bones should be put together again to form a living body. And yet this is exactly what Ezekiel pictures in our text.

He wrote: 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. We remember that these were not bodies of people who had just died. They were dry bones. All of the moisture provided by the body when they were alive was gone. The song says: Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones.

God asks a question: He asked me, Son of man, can these bones live? What is the obvious answer to this question? Most people would say, of course not! They are gone. The best thing that we could do for them is to give them a decent burial. Notice how wise Ezekiel was: I said, Sovereign Lord, you alone know. Was he being clever here? Or was this an expression of faith? No matter, it was a good answer. It was an answer that we must give so often in live, Sovereign Lord, you alone know.

And of course God did know. God had a plan. In that plan He showed His power and His love. Perhaps Ezekiel also thought that God was showing a bit of insanity. Remember, what happened next was totally contrary to human nature and human reason: Then He said to me, Prophesy to these bones and say to them, Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make

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.

page2image36872

But we know that we will live again. Our text demonstrates to us that God has the power to make living beings out of dry bones. He created us and gave us life. He gave us spiritual life when we were dead, dry bones. He will raise our bodies by once again bringing the soul into the body. Then we will not sing, dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones. We will sing, I know that my Redeemer lives.