Throughout Ezekiel’s ministry as a prophet God revealed His word to him in unique visions, but none was more intriguing and bizarre than this one. God set Ezekiel down in a valley of dry bones. These bones were lifeless, powerless, and inanimate. It was probably a place where the Jews had been slaughtered in battle and were left there unburied by their enemies to decay. The vultures had picked the bones clean and the jackals had scattered them about the valley. No skeletons — just dry, bleached-out, disconnected bones.
God asked Ezekiel an interesting question (v.3): “Can these bones live?” (implying, “Can that which is dead live again?”). “Can these dead, dry bones, representative of humanity, live again?” Ezekiel answered, “Lord, You know.” I don’t know how I would have answered, but Ezekiel answered correctly. Humanly speaking it was an impossibility. The only adequate response was, “Lord, You know!”
So God said, “Prophesy (preach) to these bones.” Ezekiel obeyed the Lord. He took the assignment graciously and preached to the dry bones. As he began to preach there was a rattling noise and the bones began to reconnect! Then the sinews (ligaments and tendons), the flesh, and the skin covered the bones — but there was no breath in them, no life (v.8). God said (v.9), “Now I want you to pray, ‘O breath of God, come and breathe Your Spirit into these dead men!’” Only God can bring the dead to life!
This vision may have many applications, but it has only one interpretation — and you don’t have to look very far to find it. In verse 11, God said, “These bones are the whole house of Israel.” And so fundamentally the vision is dealing with the restoration of Israel. In verses 12, 14, and 21-22 God promised to restore them to their homeland. And God kept that promise: in 1947 the United Nations voted 33-13 (with 10 abstentions) that there is a Jewish state in Israel. Millions of Jews now live in their homeland. That which was seemingly impossible, God has made a reality! (Note: today Israel has life nationally and politically, but it is mostly dead spiritually. Many of the Jews are secular, and the rest almost all reject Jesus as their Messiah. It is a nation of lost people. But God still has a plan for His people and He is still going to accomplish it. I believe God is going to put His Spirit in them as many Jews turn in faith to Jesus Christ in the last days; see verses 24-28.)
There is also an application here for the regeneration of the lost. As lifeless and as hopeless as a dry, dead bone, so was I before I met Jesus. But when I responded to the gospel He breathed new life into me and brought me from death to life! You may say, “What about me? Is there hope for me? Can I be saved? Can these bones live?” Because of Christ, yes they can! God can breathe life into your spirit and save you and make you a new person! And that friend or relative who is lost and so far from God — is there any hope for them to be saved? “Can those bones live?” Because of Christ, yes they can! There is nothing too difficult for God! No one is beyond His reach of mercy! Hallelujah!