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With New Testament Eyes: 78 - Can These Bones Live?

By Henry Mahan

      Ezekiel 37:1-14

      There are at least three things taught in these verses.

      This scripture is a prophecy of the restoration of Israel as a nation, and some say the conversions of many of them. Charles Spurgeon wrote in 1864, 'There will be a native government again. The state of Israel will be incorporated. The Jews shall return to Palestine and walk upon her mountains and sit under her fig trees.'

      This scripture is a description of the resurrection of the dead.

      I have watched as the bones of the dead in Mexico have been transferred from a grave to the family box; and in amazement I have wondered, 'Can these bones live?' Our Lord said that they will all live again (John 5:28-29).

      But as all of the Old Testament scriptures 'testify of Christ' (John 5:39; Luke 24:27), this scripture is a picture of the resurrection of dead sinners to eternal life through and by the grace and power of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:1; Col. 2:13; 1 Cor. 15:22). The giving of life and salvation to dead sinners is a greater miracle than the restoration of Israel or the resurrection of dead bodies. The two greatest mysteries and miracles are (1) the Son of God became the Son of Man and (2) the sons of men, by his grace, become the sons of God! (1 Tim. 3:16; 1 John 3:1).

      1. Here is the truth about human nature--dead in sin.

      vv. 1-2. Do you want to know the truth about our fallen state?

      Do you want to see what we really are as a result of Adam's transgression? (Rom. 5:12). Here it is! Evidently there had been a battle fought in this valley years before, and many men were killed. Their bones lay scattered about in the sand, bleached white, so dry and parched a dog would not pick one up, all the moisture and marrow gone out of them for years, very many and very dry.

      Martin Luther once said, 'If a man could get a full view of his sin and lost condition as it really is, he would lose his sanity.' Like these dry bones, by nature we are without help, without hope, without Christ, and without God in this world (Eph. 2:12).

      The dead sinner cannot feel, will, fear, love, repent, nor believe because he is devoid of spiritual life. He is dead!

      2. 'Can these bones live?'

      v. 3. This is the question the Lord God put to the prophet. Can men with blood, breath, and bodies stand where these bones lie in the dust?

      This is the whole issue of scripture. Can the Ethiopian change his skin? or the leopard his spots? Can we do good that are accustomed to do evil? (Jer. 13:32). Can the fragrance of the rose issue forth from the sepulchre? Can the cursing tongue praise the Lord? Can hate be turned to love and pride and arrogance to humility?

      The prophet gave the only answer! 'O Lord God, thou knowest.' The preacher certainly has no power to accomplish such a miracle. The bones themselves have no power to raise themselves. So a dead sinner has no more power to give himself spiritual life than a dead body can raise itself. Our Lord said, 'No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him' (John 6:44). No man will move toward God until God moves him. By nature we not only have no power to live, but we have no desire nor will to live. 'Thy people are made willing in the day of thy power' (Psalm 110:3).

      3. The command comes from the Lord, 'preach to the bones'

      v. 4. Prophesy unto the bones and say unto them, O ye dry bones hear the word of the Lord.' I suppose if one wanted dry, dead bones to live, the very last thing he would consider doing would be to preach to them. But this is God's way and God's command, 'Preach the word of the Lord to them' (1 Cor. 1:21; Rom. 1:16, 10:13-17; James 1:18).

      The word of God is the word of life.

      Christ is the word of God, and one cannot separate the word incarnate from the word written and spoken.

      Life-giving sermons are sermons filled with Christ-- his person, his obedience, his blood, his resurrection, his exaltation, and his intercession (Acts. 13:38-39; 2 Cor. 5:18-21).

      When Christ is preached (who he is, what he did, why he did it, where he is), those who are given ears to hear, hear Christ (John 13:20). The Holy Spirit and the word of God bring life (1 Peter 1:23). This is why the apostle Paul determined to know nothing among them save Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2), for this gospel preached is the power of God to salvation (Rom. 1:16).

      4. The message that God gave Ezekiel to preach rang of free and sovereign grace

      vv. 5-6. The message was not an appeal to the bones to do something for God, but it was a proclamation of what God was pleased to do for them. 'I will cause breath to enter into you and you shall live.' 'I will lay sinews, flesh, and skin upon you.' 'You shall know that I am the Lord' (Isa. 45:22). The word is not 'I will if you will;' but rather God, says, 'I will and you shall!' God's will and purpose are not subject to man's depraved will. He works all things after the counsel of his will and makes us willing (Eph. 1:11). Through the years preachers have been exhorted not to preach God's sovereignty, covenant mercies, elective grace, and effectual, particular redemption to sinners; but these are the very truths God instructed the prophet to preach to these dead bones. Tell them who God is, what they are, and what God is pleased to do for them in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3-14).

      5. The results of preaching the gospel of God's glory.

      vv. 7-10. 'So I preached as I was commanded.' Wouldn't it be refreshing if all preachers would forget the programs, the entertainment, the methods, the eloquence and preach the word of God as they are commanded!

      'There was a noise' or a stir! If the true word of God is preached in the power of God's Spirit, there will be a stir--the stir of interest, of life, of joy, of faith. But there will also be the stir of opposition, persecution, and trouble.

      'O breath, come and breathe upon these slain that they may live.' Ezekiel did more than just preach; he prayed to the Spirit of the Lord to give life (John 3:5-8). Doctrines and facts (as true as they are) do not save nor give life. Christ is our life and he must give life! He said, 'I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live' (John 11:25).

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See Also:
   Foreward & Acknowledgements
   1 - The Fall
   2 - Abel's Offering
   3 - The Ark Of Noah
   4 - Sarah and Hagar; Law and Grace
   5 - The Lord Will Provide
   6 - A Bride for the Heir
   7 - Bethel - The House of God
   8 - Peniel - The Face of God
   9 - Joseph Opens the Storehouses
   10 - Joseph and His Brothers
   11 - Shiloh
   12 - The Passover
   13 - The Manna
   14 - Water from the rock
   15 - The Blood Before the Lord
   16 - The Ram of Consecration
   17 - The Day of Atonement
   18 - Caleb - The Faithful Dog
   19 - The High Priest Intercedes
   20 - The Brazen Serpent
   21 - A Prophet Like Moses
   22 - The Cities of Refuge
   23 - Joshua
   24 - The Scarlet Line in the Window
   25 - The birth of Samson
   26 - The Kinsman Redeemer
   27 - The Song of Hannah
   28 - Give us a King
   29 - Saul's Great Sin
   30 - David and Mephibosheth
   31 - Why God Permitted David to Fall
   32 - Comfort from God's Covenant
   33 - I Will Not Offer to God that which Cost me Nothing
   34 - The Queen of Sheba Comes to Solomon
   35 - Three Examples of Faith
   36 - Where is the Lord God of Elijah?
   37 - Empty Vessels Filled
   38 - Naaman, the Leper
   39 - Open his Eyes that He may See
   40 - Four Lepers Teach us a Lesson
   41 - Nehushtan--A Piece of Brass
   42 - Bringing Back the Ark
   43 - Uzziah's Great Transgression
   44 - Four Things Learned in Trouble
   45 - How Can Man be Just With God?
   46 - Three Vital Questions
   47 - I Know that my Redeemer Liveth
   48 - Now Mine Eye Seeth Thee
   49 - The Psalm of Messiah the King
   50 - God's two great books
   51 - The Psalm of the Cross
   52 - The Lord is my Shepherd
   53 - True God - True Israel - True Redeemer
   54 - Eight Great Precepts
   55 - My Hope is in Thee
   56 - Many, O Lord, Are Thy Wonderful Works
   57 - A Song of Love
   58 - The Sinner's Prayer
   59 - My Rock and my Salvation
   60 - Our Lord's Sufferings for Our Sins
   61 - Mercy and Truth are Met Together
   62 - The Victory of the Messiah
   63 - Bless the Lord, O my Soul
   64 - Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So
   65 - The King-Priest
   66 - The Chief Cornerstone
   67 - The Observer and the Observed
   68 - Praise the Lord O my Soul
   69 - Wisdom in Christ
   70 - The Conclusion of the Whole Matter
   71 - Remember Now Thy Creator
   72 - My Beloved is Mine and I am His
   73 - What is Thy Beloved more than Another Beloved?
   74 - The Lord Our Righteousness
   75 - The Believers Hope
   76 - From Nothing to Everything
   77 - Lost, Driven Away, Broken, Sick
   78 - Can These Bones Live?
   79 - Four Things God Taught Nebuchadnezzar
   80 - Thy God Will Deliver Thee
   81 - Hosea--Type of Christ
   82 - A Famine to be Feared
   83 - Salvation is of the Lord
   84 - A Fountain Opened for Mourners
   85 - The Messenger of the Covenant


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