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The Wilderness: God of Life

Posted by Erik Hall on

Its scary to move forward when you know its impossible to go back.

This was the reality for Ezekiel and the Israelites during their exile and Babylonian captivity. Jerusalem, the Holy City, was destroyed and the people were forced from the Promised Land. They had lost everything, and it seemed impossible that they could ever return to what was.

We all know the shock and grief of losing what is familiar to us. Some of us have even known the horror of losing everything that we loved and trusted. We can feel betrayed, lost, disoriented, hopeless, and not capable of believing there will ever be an end to the hardship.

But, in the most desperate times, God shows up and proclaims a promise of living hope. Ezekiel is encountered by God and ‘brought out by the spirit of the Lord’ into a prophetic vision of life beyond death for God’s chosen people:

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.  He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry.  He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”  Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.  Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.  I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.”  I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

In Hebrew the word for spirit and breath are the same. So, in the creation story of Genesis 2 God breathes God’s breath/spirit into the dust of the ground and human beings are created. In Ezekiel 37:9-10, the vision is that God’s breath/spirit comes into the bones and they become living people: “and breathe upon these slain, that they may live… and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.”

Nothing is more dead than dried up bones on the desert valley floor. Nothing is more dead than a defeated, exiled, and broken people. Nothing is more dead than when we are grief-stricken and hopeless. But, the God of life wants to make sure we know there is no defeat that lies beyond God’s power to turn into victory. There is no death that lies beyond God’s power to resurrect.

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