“So I prophesied as he commanded me . . .” Ezekiel 37:10
To borrow the title of a song is perhaps a feeble attempt to say something worthwhile about a passage that is all too familiar to many, especially to prophetic people. However, sometimes the Lord leads us to dig up old treasures and look at them anew.
The first thing I notice is that the bones were “very dry.” (vs. 2) They were not just any bones, they were very dry bones.
If you have lived in a place like Redding, CA, any length of time, you notice that everything in the heat of summer is bone-dry. Pun intended. I first remember experiencing drought in a country with a tropical climate: the Dominican Republic. When it was the dry season, it did not rain. And it did not rain for months. Water stopped coming from the pipes in the street and our cistern emptied out.
Sometimes God sends us to very dry places. Ever noticed that it was the Spirit that led Jesus into the wilderness? (Luke 4:1) It wasn’t the devil that led Him there. It was the Spirit. For 40 days!
Sometimes God leads us to the most unlikely places we’d ever go. And it’s dry. It’s bone-dry.
Elijah was led into the wilderness after he declared drought to Ahab. He found a nice little stream and was fed by the ravens. Then the stream dried up. It was bone-dry.
How many bone-dry places can you think of that the people of God have been led to? St. Patrick was led to go back to Ireland, the country that had enslaved him.
St. Boniface was led to Holland in the 8th century to convert the Frisians. He was martyred there in 754. That’s my heritage.
Jim Elliot was led to reach out to the Aucas in Ecuador and was killed in 1956 by the very people he was trying to reach.
The list goes on. Sometimes the places and people God leads us to are bone-dry. Why on earth would the Spirit of God lead us there? To be tempted? To be killed? To be massacred? To be martyred?
Lest we confuse the purposes of God with the end result, we should be careful in our reading of Scripture. Jesus was led in the wilderness for forty days where He was tempted by the devil. (Luke 4:3-4) It was God who led Him there. It was the devil who tempted Him.
What does God want us to do in bone-dry place? Prophesy life! Sometimes one step at a time: the bones rattle. There are sinews on them. Flesh comes upon them. Skin covers them. Finally, as we prophesy again, breath comes into them and they live, and stand on their feet, “an exceedingly great army!” (Ezekiel 37:10)
Sometimes the bone-dry places are the shaping places that change history. We see only dry bones. God sees an exceedingly great army!
Where has God led you? Does it seem like a valley of dry bones? Maybe He is calling you to raise up an “exceedingly large army.”
Oh, dem dry bones! By the Spirit of the Lord they are an exceedingly large army!
By Ralph Veenstra