Dry Bones In The Bible

The Valley of Dry Bones, or Vision of the Dry Bones
From the book of Ezekiel, Chapter 37, God brings Ezekiel to a valley full of dry bones in a dream-like vision. He is commanded to carry a prophecy and the bones connect into human figures, then become covered with flesh and skin. God reveals the bones as the People of Israel in exile and commands the Prophet to carry another prophecy in order to revitalize these human figures. Ezekiel has been chosen to resurrect them and to bring them to the Land of Israel. The fundamental lesson of this story is when the spirit of God is present, his people are enabled to live.

This vision, Ezekiel’s third in the book (Ezekiel 1:1), is one of the most famous passages in Ezekiel. While it stands on its own as a powerful statement of God’s power to re-create the community, the context is important. The promised gift of new heart and spirit (Ez. 36:26-27) left questions remaining like how could this happen? and can it be true for us?

Ezekiel’s vision is reported in the first ten verses of chapter 37 with vivid power. The landscape is filled with bleached bones to which Ezekiel is commanded to prophesy. As he does, the bones are restored to life. The vision receives a double interpretation, with the primary meaning relating to the exiles’ despair and that this prophecy is one of the few hints of resurrection in the Old Testament.

The early Church fathers taught that Ezekiel’s vision prophesies the Final Resurrection. As Saint Ambrose of Milan stated,

“Great is the lovingkindness of the Lord, that the prophet is taken as a witness of the future resurrection, that we, too might see it with his eyes… We notice here how the operations of the spirit of life are again resumed; we know after what manner the dead are raised from the opening tombs… And finally, he who has believed that the dead shall rise again ‘in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump (for the trumpet shall sound)… shall be caught up among the first in the clouds to meet Christ in the air’; he who has not believed shall be left, and subject himself to the sentence by his own unbelief.”

Bible Meaning of Ezekiel 37
The following is an excerpt from the Matthew Henry Bible commentary for Ezekiel 37:

“No created power could restore human bones to life. God alone could cause them to live. Skin and flesh covered them, and the wind was then told to blow upon these bodies, and they were restored to life. The wind was an emblem of the Spirit of God and represented his quickening powers. The vision was to encourage the desponding Jews; to predict both their restoration after the captivity and also their recovery from their present and long-continued dispersion. It was also a clear intimation of the resurrection of the dead; and it represents the power and grace of God, in the conversion of the most hopeless sinners to himself. Let us look to Him who will at last open our graves, and bring us forth to judgment, that He may now deliver us from sin, and put his Spirit within us, and keep us by his power, through faith, unto salvation.”

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