4/06/2014

Dry bones no longer

Today's sermon comes out of the Old Testament, Book of Ezekiel 37:1-14. Many of you may recognize the story of Ezekiel's vision of "Dry Bones" as we move forward.This portion of the Book of Ezekiel is his account of the dry bones of the people of Israel became reborn and filled anew with the breath of God.

To understand this passage of scripture it helps to understand that Ezekiel is a Hebrew prophet, a mere mortal but also a man of deep faith. He obeyed when he was told by God to prophesy to regarding the destruction of Jerusalem. He obeyed again when told to prophesy to the restoration to the land of Israel.

Bones that would become people who would live in their own land with the absurdity that God lives, speaks and acts on behalf of the people of Israel. It is a physical and spiritual awakening of a dead people and a dead church.

The coming together of the bones can be thought of as spiritual Phoenix. The mythological creature raises from the ashes of its death to be reborn. Similarly, the dry bones that Ezekiel spoke of  were again made whole so that they may worship and serve God. These are the bones of a people who said “Our bones are dried up and our hope is lost” but to whom God replies “Not so.”

Where mortal eyes saw death and waste God’s eyes saw life. When there was an empty void God spoke and the void brought forth life. First in the form of light, then creatures and finally, humankind. This is the same God that told Ezekiel to prophesy and he is that same God that loves each of us..

Ezekiel obeyed. Even though the bones protested, even though prevailing knowledge dictated that dry bones could not be made anew, God proved that with him anything is possible. Old bones could be made anew and a people who lay dead could be made alive.

Why did God do it? So that we would know that He is God. That day a “vast multitude” arose and stood on the land that the Lord had given them.

We serve a God that blankets the discouraged with encouragement; who enshrouds the hopeless with hope and strengthens the weak with the breath of his spirit.

He is a God who …

  • Called Lazarus to come forth when naysayers told Jesus to leave the tomb alone … 
  • Says I will rebuild my temple in three days when the world cried out “crucify him”… 
  • Brought forth the Holy Spirit to a people who needed direction and comfort … 
  • Why did He do these things? So that a vast multitude then, now, they and us, you and I shall know that the Lord whom we serve speaks and acts out of His love and mercy for us. 
  • A God who heals a discouraged and thirsty land who hungered for encouragement, yet who had lost faith and in so doing, lost their way. 
  • We serve a God who renews our souls by the power of His word and the breath of the Holy Spirit. He renews so that as we walk through the valley of the shadows of despair that His rod and his staff with comfort us. So that when we become dry bones we a light through which to see and in which to believe.

Just as Israel lay as dry bones in Ezekiel’s vision, so too can the family of God languish as dry bones today. We face spiritual dry bones of:

  • Discouragement – that life is getting worse, not better. 
  • Disillusionment – that the new job isn't working out as planned. 
  • Disappointment – in family, friends or ourselves • Despair – unfulfilled dreams 
  • Denial – who God really is Our God is a God who came to turn the world inside out: to rebirth us in His Spirit
  • When we sink into the waters of despair, God reaches into the waters and pulls us out. 
  • To our discouragement He says “Don’t be afraid. Just believe.” 
  • Our God replaces our “I can’t.” with His, “I can.” 
  • When we deny that God can renew our spirit, our churches or our lives he tells us to “Be still and know that I am God.” Who is God?

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Alpha and Omega, the One who loved us first, loves us now and loves us tomorrow. The one who dries our tears and replaces our “No, I can’t” with “Yes! I can.”

Let us pray…

Oh Lord, when our bones were dry you could have left us in the wilderness.
But you didn't.

When our souls were thirsty you could have turned away.
But you didn't.

When we doubted or disbelieved you could have let us struggle alone.
But you didn't.

Oh Lord God, thank you for breathing new life into our lives, for loving us enough to meet us where we are but not to leave us there. Let us never fail to be an obedient people but to always cast our eyes upon you and never doubt our look away.

This we ask in the name of your son, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

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