"O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD
Week 11, Day 1
For November 19
“Our bones are dried up,
our hope has perished;
we are cut off completely.” Eze. 37.11
With these words the Jews in exile in Babylon, lamented their loss—the loss of their homeland, their faith, their future.
As difficult as it is to contemplate our own death, though we know it lies ahead for each of us, it is perhaps more difficult to imagine living into a future in which you see yourself already as good as dead. When people have no hope, when their trust has evaporated into the desert heat and they are literally cut off from everything and everyone they hold dear, it is indeed hard to go on.
The prophet Ezekiel, living among the exiles, brought a new vision. Hear the word of the LORD, he tells them. See with God’s vision. (1) There is more to the world than your impaired eyes can take in.
Israel’s hope perished when Jerusalem fell. Our hopes can be curtailed, or completely undone, when our country takes a wrong turn and another war looms, or another shooter descends on a small Texas church or a Florida night club or a Connecticut school room. Our bones dry up, our hope dies, before such evil.
But Ezekiel’s word is that the worst we can do is never the end of the story. As St. Paul would write centuries later, our God is “able to do exceeding abundantly more than all that we can ask or even imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). The options open to the Creator are beyond our comprehending. We can only begin to glimpse this future when we give ourselves over to seeing the world through a Creator’s eyes.
Read through Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones several times. Let the absurdity, the impossibility, of this metaphor soak into your bones—into those places in your experience of the world where it seems hope has lost out. Don’t ask whether or not this happened (it didn’t). Don’t worry whether or not the story is true (it is).
Simply relish the image. At God’s word, life erupts from death. In places unlikely and in ways unbelievable, life wins—because love wins.
Prayer: Creating God, in your heart the dead are remembered, the living are known, those yet to be born are eagerly anticipated—and all are alive! When we dry up and forget, revive us with the breath of your Spirit. Amen.
(1) New Interpreters Bible, pg 1503
1 The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2He led me all round them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 3He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ 4Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6I will lay sinews on 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.’
7 So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. 9Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’ 10I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.
11 Then he said to me, ‘Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” 12Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 14I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.’