Bible Society of South Africa
Louise Gevers

The Holy Spirit – Day 7

The Holy Spirit brings New Life

Bible text(s)

26I will give you a new heart and a new mind. I will take away your stubborn heart of stone and give you an obedient heart.

Ezekiel 36:26GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Valley of Dry Bones

1I felt the powerful presence of the LORD, and his Spirit took me and set me down in a valley where the ground was covered with bones. 2He led me all round the valley, and I could see that there were very many bones and that they were very dry. 3He said to me, “Mortal man, can these bones come back to life?”

I replied, “Sovereign LORD, only you can answer that!”

Ezekiel 37:1-3GNBOpen in Bible reader

Different people would have different reactions to being set down in the middle of a valley of dry bones, but probably not even a chiropractor would feel equipped to do anything of value there! Ezekiel, however, responded in faith from a reverent and obedient heart.

Ezekiel was a priest in training when he was exiled to Babylon with ten thousand captives from Judah. At the age of thirty, God called him to be a prophet to His people in Babylon to help them to understand that they were in exile, something that would last a long time, because of their sin, but also to give them a new message of hope. Ezekiel understood that it would be difficult, as God had told him: “But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate” (Ezekiel 3:7). But he trusted God for the strength for the task.

The words of Ezekiel paint a vivid picture of desolation, death and hopelessness — the result of callousness towards God. We imagine the scene that must have produced this great heap of bones in the valley; death, as evidenced by the very dry remains, and hopelessness as we realise that the fallen have been left where they died, never returning to their homes, families, and a dignified burial. This represented the spiritual condition of the Jews in captivity, far away from homeland, family and worship.

We would imagine that this image of the bones spells the end, but Ezekiel knows that nothing is impossible for God and answers, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” The LORD then works through Ezekiel to join the bones together, to put flesh and tendons onto them and cover them with skin. Lastly, He breathes breath into them, and they come to life as an enormous army. He then tells Ezekiel to prophesy that He will bring them “back to the land of Israel” and “will put (His) Spirit in (them) and (they) will live” (Ezekiel 37:12-13). What hope!

Could this also be representative of our own condition? Could there be areas in our lives that are crying out for the renewing power of the Holy Spirit, like our relationship with God, or our marriage? Perhaps we could also consider other relationships in the family, or at work, or health issues. We would not want these things to become dry through hard-heartedness, stubbornness, neglect, or lack of forgiveness. Let us commit our concerns to God, and watch Him transform our faith and make us whole again.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.20.15
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