God: The Restorer of Life
God: Restorer of Life
“Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come out of your graves, my people. I will put My Spirt within you, and you will come to life.”
From a human standpoint, the nation of Israel was destroyed. After their defeat by the Assyrians and their exile, the nation was gone. In Ezekiel 37:1-10, the prophet compares the nation to a valley of dry, sunbaked bones that we scattered about. The picture presents the full depth of the hopelessness of the nation. The fact that the bones were dry and sunbaked points to the fact that the nation of Israel had been dead for a long time. They were a nation without hope. The bones (Israel) had been dead so long that no life remained and no hope for life.
Furthermore, the bones were scattered and separate from one another, indicating that the people were dispersed from one another. In the popular movie, The Princess Bride, the character, Miracle Max, describes two types of dead people: Those who are only mostly dead and those who are all-dead. For the mostly dead, there is hope for mostly dead means that they are slightly alive. However, in the case of the all-dead, the only thing you can do is go through his clothes and look for loose change. In the case of Israel, they were not just mostly dead; they were all dead. As Ezekiel looks over the valley of dry bones, they were not just dry; they were very dry (vs. 2). There was no longer any hope for life.
However, what man deems impossible and hopeless, God proves to be the miracle worker. Suddenly in the vision, there was a great rattling sound as the bones suddenly moved across the valley floor and became attached, forming whole skeletons. Then the sinew, flesh, and skin reformed the entire body. They were no longer all dead, but now the bodies were only partially alive. This first stage of the vision points to Israel's physical (or national) restoration. While the people lost all hope of returning to the promised land, God performed a miracle and restored the nation to life. This would be fulfilled with the people returning to the land under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Nehemiah. But partially alive is not all alive. Something more is needed. This followed the pattern of creation when God formed man. First, he formed the body, and then he breathed the breath of life into him. The first was the formation of man's physical body; the second was the formation of the spiritual life of man. So also, we find in this passage. God reformed the nation of Israel and brought spiritual renewal as well. This renewal is accomplished through the new covenant, described in chapter 36:9-32 and chapter 37:15-28. God will remove the heart of stone (i.e., their heart of sin and rebellion) and give them a new heart and a new spirit. They will now walk in obedience to God, and he brings salvation to the people in the new covenant. This new covenant would be accomplished and ratified in the death and resurrection of Christ.
The hope for the life of Israel becomes our hope as well. When we accept Christ, we are grafted into the new covenant. Before Christ, we are dead in our sins. We are like the scattered bones of Israel: Without life and without hope. But Christ brings restoration of life. He brings hope. Sin destroys our life and leaves us hopeless and spiritually bankrupt. However, Christ can do what we could never do ourselves; he can restore us to life by giving us a new heart. No matter how broken our life may seem, there is always restoration in Christ.