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1 July 2020 – Ezekiel 37:1-14

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then 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 the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.” – Ezekiel 37:1-14 (ESV)

Iain Duguid writes:

This passage is about the divine work of re-creating Israel through the prophetic word and Spirit. Though God’s people have been justly judged and handed over into the realm of death for their sins, so that, humanly speaking, there is now no hope for them, yet God can bring life out of death. Because of His wrath, their death is real; because of His grace and sovereign will to have a people of His own, however, their future prospect of life may be equally real. It is this that the prophet is called to proclaim to them. What he has first experienced himself he now announces to others: life in the Spirit through the power of the word of God. The new creation that was begun in him will assuredly be brought to fulfillment by God.

What precisely does re-creating Israel mean, however? Does it directly anticipate the formation of the present political state of Israel, as some have supposed? To argue in this way is to miss the spiritual significance of the prophecy. For what is in view here, as the connections back to 36:24-38 make clear, is something more than political autonomy for the descendants of Abraham. It is nothing short of the fulfillment of all Old Testament anticipations of eschatological fullness, all of which are fulfilled in Christ. It is in Him that the new Spirit-filled Israel of God takes shape, an identity that is no longer governed by ethnic origins and circumcision, as the old Israel was, but rather by faith in the cross of Christ.

MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 93
Q. 93. Which are the sacraments of the New Testament?
A. The sacraments of the New Testament are baptism and the Lord’s supper.

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