The Power of God’s Spirit: Reviving Our Deadness

Text: Ezekiel 37:1-14


Ezekiel 37:1-14

The Valley of Dry Bones (Listen)

37:1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley;1 it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath2 to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling,3 and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “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.” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”


[1] 37:1 Or plain; also verse 2

[2] 37:5 Or spirit; also verses 6, 9, 10

[3] 37:7 Or an earthquake (compare 3:12, 13)


May 19th, 2024

Pentecost Sunday

Ezekiel 37:1-14

The Power of God’s Spirit: Reviving Our Deadness

In the name of Christ, who sent the Holy Spirit to make us a new creation as children of God, dear fellow redeemed.

There are a few times in American history where hope seemed to be a rare commodity. One of those times was during the Great Depression in the 1920s and 30s. To say hope was a rare commodity is an understatement. The US GDP fell 27% between 1929 and 1933. Unemployment, at its peak, was 24.9%; 9000 banks failed, with anyone who had money in them, losing everything; 1.5 million people were homeless; 40% of the population lived below the poverty line; and the child mortality rate was 65 per every 1000 births.

What made hope such a rare commodity is not the fact that these numbers rose so high. Americans have endured difficult times since their birth as a nation. Rather, it was the fact that these conditions endured that made people lose hope. For 10 years, America and much of the world was thrust into this Great Depression. A year or two, you might be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and keep hope that the worst will come to an end. But 10 years? That is harder to envision.

Ezekiel knew a lot about hope being a rare commodity. Being a prophet during the exile in Babylon, he saw his people taken captive, their capital city destroyed, and the temple torn down. He and many others, sojourners in a foreign land, a people who were supposed to be God’s chosen ones. Now they were broken into pieces under the mighty arm of the Babylonian empire. That alone is enough to find hope a rare commodity. But then you consider that this brokenness would last for 70 years. They were as good as dead.

Despite all this hopelessness that settled among the people, God had a plan and He showed that plan to Ezekiel in our text this morning. Not only was it a vision of redemption for the people of Israel, but it is a promise of awakening for all of God’s people. Let us consider: The Power of God’s Spirit: Reviving Our Deadness.

The valley of dry bones is one of the most well-known sections of Ezekiel. His book is filled with visions from the Lord, many difficult to understand. However, here the message could not be clearer. The hand of the Lord was upon me. He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley, which was full of bones. 2He had me pass through them and go all over among them. There were very many on the valley floor, and they were very dry.

The bones that Ezekiel was looking over stood as a representation of his people, the nation of Israel. They were dead. This was true in multiple ways: 1. As a nation. They had not heeded the Lord’s command to repent of their sins and return to the worship of Him. As a result, God took away their status as a sovereign nation. They would be captives, first under the Babylonians, then the Greeks, and after a brief period of independence, the Romans. The pride of the Israelites had soared to extreme heights. They had felt they were untouchable because they were God’s chosen people. As long as their lives were going well, then God must be pleased with them and it doesn’t matter what they did.

That leads into the second way Israel was dead: 2. Spiritually. The spiritual lifestyle of the Israelites had decayed to such an extent that they went to full-blown idol worship. They would offer sacrifices to false gods inside God’s temple. For a time, they murdered children by offering them as sacrifices to the god Molech. Every man’s heart was turned to himself and against his neighbor. It was more important to get myself rich rather than heeding God’s command to love your neighbor.

God didn’t just let them fester in their iniquity. He sent prophet after prophet to call His people to repentance. But it was to no avail. The people did not listen and they would become like dry bones, completely dead and helpless.

It is almost too easy to make a comparison to the state of our country today. A mockery is made of God’s institution of marriage, murder of infants continues to be celebrated, those who abide by God’s commands are cast down as the vile of society. Imagine if God sent a prophet like Jeremiah or Ezekeil in today’s time. . .what would happen? The same as what happened in the days of Israel: They would be beaten, rejected, and killed. It is no secret to anyone that the spiritual life of this nation has decayed to become like dead, dry bones.

What about you? Has any part of your life been a desire to be like the world, dry and dead? Rather than the flesh and blood of God, to be naked, dusty, and lifeless bones? When I put it that way, the answer is probably a resounding no. And yet, that is exactly what our sinful flesh yearns for. Like Israel, you and I were like that valley of dead, dry bones. We were spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins, dead as members of Satan’s family. There is nothing our sinful flesh desires more than to return to that state of deadness; to swallow up the poisonous celebrations of this world and the lies of Satan.

It is easier than you think. All it takes is for one small compromise on God’s Word. One sliding of your hand over a passage in Scripture because it just doesn’t sound right to you, and you are on a slippery slope to spiritual deadness. The Apostle Paul reminds us, A little leaven, leavens the whole lump. The children of Israel thought they were safe to do whatever they wanted because they were God’s people. Are you tempted to do whatever pleases you, because you are a member of a church? The Holy Spirit preserved this vision of Ezekiel as a warning to God’s people of all time not to forsake the Word of the Lord. Do not fall so far afield from God’s will that an even worse judgment falls on you: Eternal death.

3He said to me, “Son of man, can these dry bones live?” b I answered, “Lord God, you know.” 4Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’” 5This is what the Lord God says to these bones. I am about to make breath enter you so that you will live. 6I will attach tendons to you. I will put flesh back on you. I will cover you with skin and put breath in you, and you will live. Then you will know that I am the Lord.

The Lord poses, what seems like a ridiculous question. There is no physical way for those bones to live. In a dry climate like Babylon, it would take 4 to 6 months for there to be only bones remaining and to be dried out. And yet, Ezekiel answers in faith, Lord God, you know. Ezekiel knew that God was powerful and if He desired to do anything, He was able. And do something, God did. He had Ezekiel prophecy over the dry bones a promise of restoration, then something incredible happened.

As I was prophesying there was a noise, a rattling, as the bones came together, one bone connecting to another. 8As I watched, tendons were attached to them, then flesh grew over them, and skin covered them. But there was no breath in them.

The impossible was made possible because God had decreed it. Those dry bones received tendons and flesh and skin, a new body. But even that was not enough for God. 9Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the wind. Prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind that this is what the Lord God says. From the four winds, come, O wind, and breathe into these slain so that they may live.” 10So I prophesied as he commanded me. Breath entered them, and they came back to life. They stood on their feet, a very, very large army.

The breath of life entered into those with flesh and bones, and they were brought back to life. A jaw-dropping vision to witness to say the least. Yet, that miraculous act is not the most amazing part of this vision. It is how God explains it to Ezekiel.

12Therefore, prophesy and say to them that this is what the Lord God says. My people, I am going to open your graves and raise you up from your graves and bring you back to the soil of Israel. 13Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you up from your graves, O my people. 14I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live. I will settle you on your own land, and you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.”

Dead, dry bones; the perfect illustration for a captive people and a spiritually bankrupt nation. Flesh, tendons, and skin; the perfect illustration for a redeemed people and restored nation. God made a promise long before the exile to bring restoration back to His people. They would not remain in Babylon forever, but they would return to their homeland because the Lord keeps His promises. More important than that, however, is the breath of life that God breathed into those bodies. The breath of life He promises to breathe into His people.

Remember, Israel was spiritually dead. They had abandoned God completely and viewed Him as equal to the gods of the pagan nations surrounding them. Rather than abandoning His people, God was committed to keeping the promise He made to send a Savior through the line of Judah. God remained faithful. Despite being rejected, He faithfully orchestrated world events in order to bring the redemption of His people. This was something they did not deserve, but it was the love of God and His free grace and mercy that provided it for them.

This promise of restoration and redemption has been promised to you as well, and, in fact, you have already received the fulfillment of it. Part of why God promised this deliverance from Babylon was in order that the Messiah, Jesus the Son of God could fulfill all prophecies concerning Himself and His work and bring life back to a spiritually dead people. 2000 years ago, God was laying the foundation so that He is able to call you out of the deadness of your sin and give you the breath of life in His Son. When God restored Israel, He also began to fulfill this promise to you. You have life because Jesus suffered on the cross to pay for your sins. He died in order to pay back the debt that you owe to God. He rose from the dead so that life is secured for those who were once dead.

Today we are celebrating the festival of Pentecost. The day in which Jesus sent the Helper, the Holy Spirit to His disciples and to all who have heard the good news of sins forgiven. That means the Holy Spirit has been given to you as well. In fact, He is the reason you are here this morning. Without the Holy Spirit, you and I would be like those lifeless bodies. Sure, we have skin, flesh, and tendons, but that all means nothing if there is no breath of life. Jesus could die the perfect death, but if Someone doesn’t breathe into our dead souls, we would be lifeless bodies.

The Holy Spirit revives our deadness. He does this in a number of ways. 1. He creates faith in our hearts. Upon hearing the Gospel, or at your Baptism, the Holy Spirit entered into your heart and gave you that breath of life, your faith. He is the one who enables you to look upon the glorious truths of Scripture with understanding and rejoicing. 2. He feeds and strengthens that faith. We still have a sinful flesh and there is a constant battle going on inside of you as to who has control. The Holy Spirit brings the Word of God to your heart and soul in order to feed it, strengthen, and fight against your sinful flesh. He is the one who keeps that deadness God delivered you from at bay. 3. He remains with you. As sinful people, we need a constant reminder to keep our sin in check. The Holy Spirit convicts you of your sin, but also assures you of the gospel of forgiveness and gives comfort and guidance in your daily walk as a Christian.

This comfort and guidance are what allows us to walk confidently through this world of dry bones. Through the Word that is a lamp unto our feet and light unto our path, the Holy Spirit keeps us on the straight and narrow way to eternal life.

What does that mean for the times when Hope appears to be a rare commodity, like the Great Depression? It is an encouragement to call upon the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to bring life to what has become your dead bones situation. Let Him be the ones who transforms you from nothing into a living, breathing, glorifying child of God. Requests that certainly will be answered without restraint. In Jesus’ name Amen.