Ezekiel 37:1-28; James 1:19-27; Psalms 115:11-18; Proverbs 24:23-25
OT: “The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by his Spirit and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them. There were a great many of them on the surface of the valley, and they were very dry. Then he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I replied, “Lord God, only you know.” He said to me, “Prophesy concerning these bones and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Lord God says to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you will live. I will put tendons on you, make flesh grow on you, and cover you with skin. I will put breath in you so that you come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” So I prophesied as I had been commanded. While I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. As I looked, tendons appeared on them, flesh grew, and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man. Say to it: This is what the Lord God says: Breath, come from the four winds and breathe into these slain so that they may live!” So I prophesied as he commanded me; the breath entered them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, a vast army. Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Look how they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished; we are cut off.’ Therefore, prophesy and say to them, ‘This is what the Lord God says: I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them, my people, and lead you into the land of Israel. You will know that I am the Lord, my people, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I am the Lord. I have spoken, and I will do it. This is the declaration of the Lord.’”” (Ezekiel 37:1-14 CSB)
In a vision, the Lord took Ezekiel to a valley full of dried bones and doubled-down on His promise that He would prove His existence and His Lordship, not through His destructive power, but His power to bring forth life. In the beginning, God established His Godship by creating the heavens and the earth from nothing – and then brought a dark, desolate and chaotic earth back to life with the power and authority of His word (Genesis 1:1-3). When there was a question about who had the authority to serve as priest before God, God caused Aaron’s years-dead and completely dried-out staff to bloom and produce mature fruit (Numbers 17:8). When the people of Israel had given up all hope and claimed that God’s promises for them were completely dead, God said, “I have the power to bring dead things back to life, and I will prove Myself to You by fulfilling My every word.”
The valley that the Lord brought Ezekiel to in the vision must have been overwhelming to Ezekiel. I imagine that the valley was the site of a great battle where an entire army was massacred by the enemy. Years had gone by since the battle, and all that remained were the dried-out white-washed-by-the-sun bones of the warriors. Despite the overwhelming site, Ezekiel still had the faith and presence of mind to not rule out and absolute creative miracle. When God asked him if he thought those bones could live again, Ezekiel wisely said, “Lord, You know.” Nothing is impossible if God says it is possible, and nothing is over until God says it is over. It was the word of God that brought forth light and life at creation, and the word of God would bring the valley to life as well. God told Ezekiel to speak to the bones and command them to hear the word of the Lord. Ezekiel heard and heeded the word of the Lord and spoke with the authority of God’s word – and as Ezekiel spoke out God’s powerful and authoritative word, God created something out of nothing and the dead, dried bones were reconstituted into a massive living and breathing army, able to accomplish God’s purposes on the earth.
NT: “My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like someone looking at his own face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of person he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works — this person will be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, his religion is useless and he deceives himself. Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:19-27 CSB)
The reason why Ezekiel’s words were so authoritative, powerful and effective was because Ezekiel’s words were God’s words and not his own. Ezekiel heard God’s word, heeded God’s word, and then heralded God’s word. We must receive and submit to God’s word, apply it to our lives and allow it to have its effect on us before we start running our mouths. Instead of being quick to speak our mind, spout our opinions, or brag about how religious we are, James tells us that need to be quick to hear, listen, receive, apply and obey the word of the Lord instead. Getting angry and mouthing off does not accomplish God’s righteousness. Ridding yourself of the vitriol, profanity and evil of the world by allowing God’s word to have its needed effect on your life accomplishes righteousness in you – which equips you to then accomplish God’s righteousness in the world. Bragging about how religious or virtuous you are accomplishes nothing good. Religion has actually become a negative word in recent years, primarily because of people who claim to be religious but don’t truly act according to the character of God. Religion actually means putting into practice the things that you believe. Pure and undefiled religion involves actually doing the things that are on God’s heart to do. God’s words are the words of life – and they will bring life to us and enable us to bring life to others if we not only hear them, but apply them and do them in faith.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You for the life-giving power of Your word. My words only have life when they are in line with and echo Your word. Help me to be quick to hear and heed and slow to spout off, without first allowing Your word to create life in me and rinse me of all evil and lifelessness. May the words that I speak and write be an overflow of the life of Christ at work in me, and not empty words of my own opinions and self-righteous imaginations. Empower my words with life as I submit to Your words in faith. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.