Lesson 53

The Valley of Dry Bones

"They shall live in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where their fathers lived; there shall they live . . . for all time."
Ezekiel 37:25 (Moffatt Translation)

Ezekiel, the priest, was used of the LORD to prophesy as was Daniel. The faithful Israelites yearned to know about their future as a nation—what were God’s plans for his chosen people? Daniel had worked in the heathen palace and witnessed for the LORD to the Babylonians, but Ezekiel taught his own people and lived among them.

The elders of Israel came to Ezekiel to learn God’s will. They had obeyed the prophets of the LORD in peacefully surrendering to Nebuchadnezzar and being taken captive to Babylon. But they longed to return to their homeland.

The power of the LORD caused Ezekiel to see a vision. In that vision the prophet saw a valley full of dry bones. He knew these bones were like the nation of Israel—scattered throughout Babylon, their hopes dead (Ezekiel 37:1-6).

As Ezekiel walked among the bones (in the vision), he wondered if they could ever live again—could the nation of Israel ever be restored? The vision showed that the day would come when the scattered bones would come together to form a full skeleton. The breath of life would enter that body and it would live again. Yes, the nation of Israel would live again!

This would happen at a time of great commotion—thunder and earthquakes—picturing that God would restore Israel during the time of trouble at the end of the Gospel Age (Daniel 12:1-4).

Evidence that the bones had come together to form a skeleton came in 1948 when Israel was recognized as a nation. Near the end of the Gospel Age the LORD brought the dry bones back from where they had been scattered for so many centuries! This was not a resurrection from the dead, but of the "dead hopes" of the Israelites.

But the prophecy’s fulfillment had only just begun—the complete fulfillment belongs to a future time, to the Millennial Age, when God will remove the stony hearts of the people and replace them with new hearts of flesh. This will not be an instantaneous work. It will come about gradually through the troubles and afflictions of the "day of wrath." By instructions in righteousness and blessings from the LORD, the transformation to hearts of flesh will take place (Ezekiel 11:19).

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