“The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”
Again 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: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”‘”
So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.
Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God:”Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”‘” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’”
(Ezekiel 37:1-14 NKJV)
Considering this passage of scripture, I realize God was speaking prophetically to the nation of Israel, through the prophet Ezekiel. The Lord was declaring a future full of hope for the nation, as well as a fresh, divine revelation of the God of Israel. “You shall know that I am the Lord, WHEN I have opened your graves…and brought you up from your graves.”
But there is more to be gleaned from those prophetic words of long ago. I believe they can also be applied to the present day Body of Christ, the Church.
Even to the Church in the Des Moines, Iowa area.
For years, and years, there has been such discord and competition within denominations, as well as discord and competition between the denominations. “Turf wars” have sparked mistrust, jealousy, rage, hatred, and evil speaking among brethren. Skin color has kept brethren apart, even though Jesus died for all mankind.
The Des Moines church, the Citywide Body of Christ, needs to live as it’s never lived!
It’s bones are dry, strewn across the dry ground, separated from each other. If there’s any movement at all, it’s sporadic and limited. After all, a dry bone can only accomplish just so much. A dry bone can’t speak for the others, let alone speak for the Head. Why? They are not connected! A dry bone can’t give its life for a friend, as it has no life to give. It’s all dried up, no moisture, no identity, no activity, no life.
What causes such dryness and separation? Weariness, for one. Not in the sense of just being tired, but rather “faint-hearted” “disgusted” “ticked-off” “hurt” “beat up”, and the like. Ever been weary? Are you weary now?
Churches become weary, dry, as they focus on “their” mission only. Kind of like someone who has a problem with one part of their body. The more they focus on that particular issue and all the things it CAN’T do, the wearier it becomes. And when that person looks around and sees others more active, accomplishing more (whatever that may look like), they can become jealous of the “successful” ones, and even mad at God (secretly, of course).
Jealousy leads to loose lips. A tongue out of control. Fault finding and expression of dislike for the “successful” brethren. Sowing discord through speaking lies and false accusations can begin to grow. On and on the problem will fester until each part severs themselves from the others.
Dryness, weariness, also develop through an attitude of pride. “Lord, thank You for helping us do more for this city than any other ministry”, would be an example of that attitude. Proud of their experiences, their services, their doctrine, their ministry, their facilities, their budget, their music…on and on it goes. Though they may not “feel” dry or weary, they will eventually dry out and drop from the rest of the Body. Why? Because Paul said, “from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:16 NKJV) If you or your “ministry” aren’t connected to the Body, it is NOT growing, and will not, cannot, be a true expression of the Kingdom of God.
The Lord asked Ezekiel a question. “Son of man, can these bones live?” Ezekiel had a good response. “Lord, You know.”
The Lord said, in essence, “okay, I’ll tell you. Prophesy to each of the dry bones. Prophesy, speaking My revelation to each one. They are dry because they ignored, rebelled against, My Word, so that is what they need to hear, AND DO!”
“Prophesy this – ‘Hear the Word of the Lord. Hear with the intent to obey that which you hear. Hear, to change your life. Pay attention to MY details. And though MY revelation may be uncomfortable to receive, and implement, be a doer of MY Word, not a hearer only.’”
If you’ll read the history of the nation of Israel, you’ll find they weren’t exactly an easy group to lead. They could be fine for a while, but they could only be “good” for just so long. The writer of the Book of Judges described them perfectly when he wrote, “and each one did what was right in their own eyes.” That also describes the American church today. Every individual, every church, every denomination, seems to be doing what is right in their own eyes.
Today, Ezekiel would be speaking to the bones, the very dry bones, something like this:
“Hear the Word of the Lord, Des Moines Church! Hear and obey the desires of My heart. I have called you to unity, but you are satisfied with your brand of church. I have called you to express the Oneness of My Kingdom, but you won’t trust your neighbor, your brother, unless they look, act, talk, dress, or believe exactly like you. Discord has been sown through the years, and now the field is full of those weeds. Weeds which suck the life and vision out of all you put YOUR hand to. As Haggai said, “You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes. Consider your ways!”
“Consider your ways, Des Moines! You are being called to join together in unity, not discord. The Lord isn’t calling you to lose your identity, your culture, or even your traditions. He is calling you, regardless of your culture, to join with your brethren for the purpose of demonstrating His Kingdom throughout the region. Yield your culture, your traditions, and your race to the Lord Jesus, the Head of His Body, and see how your life can become even more effective when connected to His projects.
“You have a common enemy. Your enemy hides behind other issues, making them appear to be THE important focus. But “cast out the scoffer (and the accuser) and strife and contention will leave.” Every one of you face such issues as your customs, culture, fears, and pride; each one can cause you to become isolated, and dry. But if you will join as ONE, setting aside your “reasons” for isolation, you will find a fresh wind of the Lord’s Spirit upon you. You will witness the bones coming together, the flesh and sinews developing, and your lungs swelling with the “pneuma of God”!
“And you will stand as the Lord’s mighty army, declaring “thus says the Lord” to each and every person. Then you will see the Lord’s Wind of Awakening, using the different cultures, customs, and various aspects of ministry for ONE purpose. ONE Church, in loving unity, Holy Spirit-filled, supporting and caring for each and every part; until the task is finished.”
Church, bones are dry for a reason. You may be dry and weary. What’s the reason? Take a moment and examine yourself. How much do you really love His Body? Can you go beyond your doctrine, customs, culture, and experience and join in with others who Name the Name of Jesus Christ?
Are you satisfied with the present condition of the church, your church, the city, your city?
Will YOU hear the Word of the Lord? Will YOU believe the Lord wants YOU to be a unifier for His Work, regardless of how uncomfortable you may become?
An Awakening will take place, throughout this region, when the Lord’s bones come together and begin to supply grace to the other parts of the body. The anointing of God will flow from the Head, covering the whole body, when it becomes spiritually submitted to each and every member.
And neither you, your city, or your future will be the same!
“Church, can these bones live again?”, asks the Lord.
And your response is…?