The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), August 31
Ezekiel’s deportation to Babylon precedes the destruction of Jerusalem and her temple by eleven years. Ezekiel’s fear of God does not prevent his being carried off with 3,000 others to Babylon. His captivity is therefore providential—God has sovereignly positioned him in a refuge camp at the banks of the the river Kebar. There God shares His perspective with his refugee priest. It is there, also, that Ezekiel is infused with hope.
The LORD takes His servant out to a valley strewn with dry bones and calls His prophet to prophesy to the bones. As he speaks, God immediately fulfills the prophetic word; the bones stand up, are wrapped with sinew and flesh, and breathe again when the prophet prophesies to the breath to fill them. After this vision, God commands Ezekiel to take two sticks, write “Judah” and “Ephraim” on them, and then tie them together, thus signifying the future reunification of the two kingdoms into one people.
The reassembling of the dry bones with flesh, blood, and breath demonstrates that, though God’s people stand on the precipice of judgment and destruction, God isn’t finished with His people. Throughout Ezekiel’s visions the Lord declares His covenant faithfulness to a rebellious and idolatrous people, “When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations, then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer. And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel” (Ez. 39:27-29, emphasis added).
These visions (dry bones and two sticks) reveal a number of applicable truths for today:
- Circumstances are never as they appear at first glance.
- God sometimes positions His servants in hard places for future service that is neither understood or appreciated at the time.
- God can always breathe fresh life into His people, no matter how “dead” they and their situations appear.
- God may raise up and use only one person to be the voice of life and breath for all of His people.
- Though a nation or a man may absolutely ruin its life for God, God is able to bring life out of death.
- God is committed to His people, and every individual matters to Him.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Ez. 37:1-39:29; 32:1-16):
What do the joining of the two sticks symbolize? What promise does the reunification of the nation of Israel fulfill? What does this reveal about God’s covenantal faithfulness?
Review Isaiah 46:9-10. The LORD reveals a future enemy and battle that His reunified people will face in the distant future. How will God respond to the enemy in that day? What will He do for His covenant people?
What does Ezekiel’s prophecy reveal about Egypt’s future? What does this reveal about God?