Pastoral Perspectives

Can Dry Bones Live?

There are lots of challenges we face today as Christians, especially in living out our faith. One of the things is doing something for God, which your family or friends may consider as unusual or even foolish. It becomes even more difficult when the Holy Spirit or God’s word speaks to you to act on it immediately.

We have heard how Noah had to build an ark, and his countrymen thought he was crazy. Why? Because it was to be built on high ground instead of near the sea. Who builds a big ship on the hill, so far away from the sea? We have read how Elijah asked the people around him, to pour buckets of water onto the sacrifice at Mt Carmel. This was a challenge to the false prophets of Baal. The people who saw what Elijah had requested, must have thought he must have been unwise to do so.

If God were to ask you to go to a country which is very much against Christianity and preach to the people there, will you do it? There was one person who was asked to do this in the Bible-do you know who he is? He tried to run away but God brought him back to Nineveh to preach repentance to the people there.

Today God has told us to do many things, one of which is the Great Commission; in Matthew 28:18, 19-expressed in missions to all Nations-Nations in Greek means ethnos, from where the word ethnic comes from. This means the Good News must be preach to all kinds of people. Sometimes the preaching of the cross was considered foolishness or even difficult to comprehend. Who would want to believe God the Father allowed His only begotten Son to be sacrificed for our sins?

Imagine if God asked me, a pastor, to preach to the dead people in Chua Chu Kang cemetery, what would be my response? Firstly, this is a place where the dead are buried, and would there be anyone living to hear the message? Secondly, wouldn’t it be just an unwise thing to do and a waste of time? The only good thing would be that no one would say whether my sermon was good or bad.

In Ezekiel 37, God did ask the prophet Ezekiel to preach to a multitude of dry bones in a valley. Did Ezekiel do what God told him to do or did he tell God he would not do a foolish thing like this?

Ezekiel was later “transported” by God to a valley of dry bones. Here was an open graveyard, and it must have saddened Ezekiel all the more, as these were the remnant of his people who died here in battle. This was a scene of despair, there was no hope and for the people of Israel who were defeated, captured and had no home for themselves.

“Son of man, can these bones live” Was this a very difficult question and why is God asking Ezekiel such an unusual question? Sometimes as Christians, it is the other way round when we ask God some very unusual questions, but does God answer us? I am sure He does from the preaching of His words, the Bible, answers to prayer and through the counsel of God’s people.

       When Ezekiel answered, “Lord you know the answer” must not be understood as “how would I know, you should know the answer God-why ask me?” Ezekiel was making a statement of truth that God you are the Lord of life and death, it is by your sovereign will whether these bones can come alive.

Ezekiel was instructed by God to preach to these bones and say to them “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord”. Now, when God commands us, we must obey Him.

The subject was “can these bones live” should not be understood in the literal sense, but must be seen in the spiritual sense. Israel was like that, they were the dry bones and Ezekiel’s message, was to bring repentance and restoration to the people of Israel. They have sinned against God and now they must acknowledge God, repent of their sins and be obedient to serve the Lord.

I believe, that Ezekiel preached faithfully, based on his calling and as his role as the prophet of Yahweh. He preached and what happen next was amazing. All the bones came together, each bone to the rightful owner. Next the muscle tissues, the flesh and the skin came and cover the bones that were once bare. This is the power of God’s word to bring a change to all these dry bones.

Later as the bones came together, Ezekiel must have notice immediately that there was no life in them and they were not breathing at all.

Ezekiel was again instructed to call upon and preached as we read in Ezekiel 37:9 “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” This scene should immediately come to mind in Genesis 2:7 “then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Breath, representing the Holy Spirit was important to man as a living creature and in the spiritual sense, as we understand, a person cannot believe in Christ unless he is made alive by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 2:5 even when we were dead in sins, he hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved ;)(KJV)

Therefore looking at the Great Commission in Matthew 28, God’s word informs us that we must also preach the Gospel faithfully to those who are like dry bones-the spiritually dead.

We too are faced with such a difficult task, as we know from experience sharing the Gospel with them is really like speaking to dry bones-they don’t seem to be interested and for sure they are not listening to our message.

The call for Ezekiel was to remain faithful in sharing God’s word and we too must do the same thing. It sounds impossible, but if God wants us to do it, then we should obey.

Can dry bones live again? YES! Only God’s Word can transform people, and only God’s Spirit brings life to people

When referring earlier to the Great Commission in Matt 28:19-20, this means that we are to go and preach the Gospel to people who are not like us. This meaning of ethnos/ethnic is reveled when we read Revelation 7:9-10, God reveals to us the outcome of the Great Commission-

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (KJV)

Pray as a Church, that God’s word will be preached faithfully and by the power of the Holy Spirit, people will come to believe in Christ.

Rev Eddie Chandra

February 21, 2016