The Army of the Returned

The Army of the Returned

posted on: June 18, 2018

Ezekiel chapter 37 is a well known story of the prophet’s vision of ‘The Valley of the Dry Bones’. If you are not familiar with this passage, find time to read this incredible story.

The first question we read that was asked was by the Lord to Ezekiel. “Can these bones live?

My thoughts: Could it very well be that the prophet’s answer would have indicated or predicted what was to happen? What if he said, “No.”? There is no chance for this nation to be brought back to life. 

I would like to think that the Lord’s great mercy would say, “You think they can’t but let me show you they can.” And the vision would have continued on from there regardless of the answer from Ezekiel. 

A question. “Can these bones live?” then

A command. “Prophesy to these bones.

Ezekiel had to speak to the dead bones. Dead bones live by a power that goes along with the word of God which he preached. As he preached hope to the nation, God restored them. Further preaching led to a dramatic restoration.

(Reminds me of Acts chapter 2. A great outpouring of the Holy Spirit filled the people in the New Testament. )

He must pray, and he did so; and the dead bones were made to live in answer to prayer; for a spirit of life entered into them.

Here you see the work of the Word and Prayer mixed together. We pray to the one who raises the dead!

The Matthew Henry Commentary says: But we call in vain, still they are dead, still they are very dry; we must therefore be earnest with God in prayer for the working of the Spirit with the word: Come, O breath! and breathe upon them. God’s grace can save souls without our preaching, but our preaching cannot save them without God’s grace, and that grace must be sought by prayer. 

Prodigals have deadened their senses, hardened their hearts and turned away–we must speak life into them. We can pray to God and also speak to the dead bones. Ezekiel was speaking to God and to the bones. 

Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. The Lord will cause breath to enter into you and you will live. You will know who the Lord is. 

Ezekiel prophesied and there was a noise and a shaking. The bones came together. Bone to his bone. Even dead and dry bones begin to move when they are called to hear the word of the Lord. 

But there was no breath in them. 

God tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the wind. Breathe upon the slain that they may live. Ezekiel did so. The breath came into them and they lived and stood up as a great army. 

The Army of the Returned. 

Then God said, Son of man this is a whole house. Their bones are dried and their hope is lost. 

Prophesy again. God will bring you out of your graves. Out of your hole you’ve been buried in. Out of the darkness. You will know the Lord when he brings you out of your graves. You will know the I AM. He is going to put his spirit in you and you will live. 

Ez. 37: 16-18 Moreover make a symbol and a sign . The Lord told Ezekiel to make a sign–take a stick and write For Judah and the children of Israel his companions 

Then take another stick and write on it For Joseph the stick of Ephraim and for all the house of Israel his companions. 

Join them into one stick and they shall become one in thy hand. 

The children will ask you what does this mean, show us.

The binding of the two sticks represents the reunification of the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Unity.

Praise will return. The family will be whole again. There will be unity. Division will be healed and praise will return again.

The Matthew Henry commentary says: United in brotherly love -continual feuds and animosities so be no longer. They had been two sticks crossing and thwarting one another, nay, beating and bruising one another; but now they shall become one, supporting and strengthening one another.

Don’t give up on your prodigals. Don’t give up on relationships and families that have splintered and a nation that looks like it is dying. Don’t give up. There is power in your words. Speak life. Preach hope and pray to the God who wakes the dead. Pray to the Restorer!

Lauren Daigle’s lyrics from Come Alive is so fitting:

 

Through the eyes of men it seems there’s so much we have lost
As we look down the road where all the prodigals have walked
One by one the enemy has whispered lies
And led them off as slaves
But we know that you are god yours is the victory
We know there is more to come
That we may not yet see
So with the faith you’ve given us
We’ll step into the valley unafraid, yeah
As we call out to dry bones come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones, come alive
God of endless mercy god of unrelenting love
Rescue every daughter bring us back the wayward son
And by your spirit breathe upon them show the world that you alone can save
You alone can save
As we call out to dry bones come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones come alive

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