The Prophet Ezekiel is one of the Major Prophets of the Bible. The name “Ezekiel”
means “God will strengthen.” Ezekiel was the son of Buzi, the priest (Ezekiel 1:3).
Ezekiel was one of the Babylonian captives who lived during the Babylonian Exile.
He lived among those Jews who were settled around Tel-Abib in Babylon. Tel-Abib
is not to be confused with Tel-Aviv, which is in Israel. He was taken captive during
the eighth year, during the reign of Jehoiachin of Judah, around 597 BC. Ezekiel
lived in his own house during the exile (Ezekiel 8:1), where he held a high position
among the exiled Jews near the Chebar River. Ezekiel’s ministry to the exiles in
Babylon was at the same time as that of Jeremiah to the Jews in Palestine, and of
the early years of the ministry of Daniel.
Ezekiel tells us of the exact way he received his calling from God in Ezekiel 1:1-3:
“Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month,
while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I
saw visions of God. (On the fifth of the month in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s
exile, the word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, son of Buzi, in
the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and there the hand of the Lord came
upon him.)” Ezekiel’s ministry was to keep before the exiles the sins which had
brought God’s judgment on them and to assure them of God’s future blessing in keeping
with His covenant.
The book of Ezekiel is one of the greatest prophetic works in the Bible. It provides
a panorama of what is to happen to humanity and the world in the future ages. The
Book of Revelation contains several reiterations of Ezekiel’s prophecies: the cherubim
(Ezekiel 1, Revelation 4); Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38, Revelation 20); eating the
scroll (Ezekiel 3, Revelation 10); and the River of Living Water (Ezekiel 47, Revelation
The children of Israel had been persecuted and held in captivity for hundreds of
years and they seemed to have little hope for the future. In Ezekiel 37, God reveals
His plan to bring life back to Israel and to reunite Israel and Judah. The Israelites
would be revived both politically and spiritually. Ezekiel was not prophesying the
immediate revival of Israel. No, he was looking down through the ages to come. Ezekiel
37:1-2 states “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit
of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones.
And He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many
on the surface of the valley, and lo, they were very dry.”
The term “dry as a bone” has been a measuring stick for dryness for many years.
We may see a dry lake bed and refer to it by saying “look at the lake; it’s dry
as a bone.” If something is said to be “dry as a bone”, it’s the epitome of dryness.
God showed the prophet Ezekiel just how dry bones can look. In Ezekiel 37, the Spirit
took Ezekiel in a vision to a valley filled with dry and bleached bones, scattered
over the ground. These bones had been devoured by animals and birds.
It was very humiliating for a Jew’s body not to be washed, wrapped and buried with
dignity. In his vision God instructed Ezekiel to pass among these dry bones so that
he could see the bones of dead Jews surrounding him as he sat there surveying the
floor of this valley of dry bones. Now, as a priest, Ezekiel could not be defiled
by the dead, but this was a vision and the bones were not toxic. The dry bones resembled
an army slain in battle, a fitting description of the then hopeless condition of
In Ezekiel 37:3, God said, “Son of man, can these bones live?” Ezekiel answered,
“O Lord God Thou knowest.” Ezekiel knew that he surely could not make those dry
bones live again. He knew that only God could give life back to all of those dry
bones surrounding him there in the valley. The Bible does not give a hint as to
how many skeletons were laying about in the valley. There could have been hundreds
or thousands of dead bodies whose bones were bleached white by the elements. In
Ezekiel 37:4, God told Ezekiel, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, `O
dry bones, hear the word of the Lord’.” Ezekiel had prophesied to the mountains
(Ezekiel 6:2; 36:1) and to the forests (Ezekiel 20:47), now God commanded him to
prophesy to these dry bones. Ezekiel knew that only God could cause life to re-enter
these dead, dry bones.
Them Bones, Them Dry Bones
Ezekiel followed the command of God and prophesied to the dry bones. God spoke to
the dry bones in Ezekiel 37:5, “Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold,
I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life’.” Ezekiel knew it was
God who gave life to Man. He knew it was God who breathed breath into the lungs
of Adam when He created man and woman. The prophet recognized this from the very
beginning of his vision as indicated by his response when God asked him could these
bones live again (Ezekiel 37:3). Ezekiel knew that if it was God’s will, then life
would enter the dry bones. God went on to say, ‘And I will put sinews on you, make
flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin, and put breath in you that you may
come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord’.” (Ezekiel 37:6).
As Ezekiel prophesied to the dry bones there came a rustling or rattling noise heard
throughout the floor of the valley. In Ezekiel 37:7, Ezekiel does as God has commanded
him, “I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and
behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone.” This must have
been an awesome sight to behold as those dry bones began to come together. You may
recall that this scene in the valley of dry bones was put into words making up a
gospel song in the early 1950’s. The song writer described the connecting of the
bones as: “the foot bone connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone connected to
the leg bone, the leg bone connected to the knee bone” and so on until the body
was connected together again. God connected those dry bones right before the very
eyes of Ezekiel in this vision. Ezekiel had no doubt of the power of God from the
very beginning of his vision. He knew that God was able to bring these bones together
again. However, there is something still lacking about these dry bones. They have
no life as yet!
As Ezekiel looked on the dry bones, sinews were on them, and flesh grew, and skin
covered them; but there was no life in those dry bones (Ezekiel 37:8). The bones
were back together and they were covered with skin. But still something is missing
that will bring these bones to life again. Then the Lord spoke again to Ezekiel
in 37:9, “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 come to life.” Think about it for a moment!
Ezekiel is about to witness the majestic power of God as He brings these dry, dead
and bleached bones to life again. Then the prophet obeyed as God commanded in Ezekiel
37:9 and 37:10 and breath came into the dead bodies and they stood on their feet
like an exceedingly great army.
God revealed the meaning of the “dry bones” to Ezekiel in 37:11 by saying, “Son
of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones
are dried up, and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off’.” God then commanded
Ezekiel to prophesy again in Ezekiel 37:12, “Therefore prophesy, and say to them,
‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come
up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel.”
In Ezekiel 37:14 God says, “And I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come
to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord,
have spoken and done it, “declares the Lord.“
The vision does not depict the physical resurrection of individuals, but the political
(prior to the second coming of Christ) and spiritual (at the second coming of Christ)
revivals of Israel. Promises made to Israel by God will be fulfilled at the second
coming of Christ. They include: restoration to the land of Palestine (Ezekiel 37:21),
unification of the two kingdoms (Ezekiel 37:22), purification from all idolatry
(Ezekiel 37:23), Messiah ruling over them (Ezekiel 37:24), possession of the land
forever (Ezekiel 37:25), and the presence of God and His sanctuary in their midst
Ezekiel’s vision occurred some 2,600 years prior to the creation of the present
day nation of Israel. On May 14, 1948, the state of Israel was established. The
Jews began to come back to the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob beginning in 1948
and are continuing to do so. Israel’s political state appears to be fluid at times,
however, the Jews are resolved to remain on the land given to them by God. Yet,
there are those nations that would have the Jews removed from the face of the Earth.
Those nations that think along such lines do not realize that God is in control
of the destiny of Israel. The Second Coming of Christ will resolve the situation
that Israel finds itself in today once and for all time.
In the meantime, we must remember what God said early in the Old Testament, “I will
bless those who bless you (Israel) and I will curse those who curse you.” (Genesis