“…Can These Bones Live?”
My Thankful Friend,
It’s Thanksgiving time, wonderful! Our Canadians friends have already celebrated and we will soon. For me this entire time of year is a favorite; crisp air, falling leaves of varied colors, all the fond memories, and always gatherings of family and friends. And to top it off it is centered in how blessed we are. And we are blessed! This is true despite all about us the chaos, divisiveness, hostility, and ineptitude, especially of our leaders. Yet, we need to be thankful! We may as yet lack the spiritual vision to see what lies ahead; still we are aware that God is able to do whatever He needs to do. This is what I’ve tried to relate lately, our God is more than enough! And this has all brought to my mind Ezekiel.
He lived in a time when the best and brightest of Judah, like Ezekiel himself, had been dragged into captivity. It was difficult time for these exiles. They were a defeated people and had lost all hope. “By the waters of Babylon there we sat down and wept…on the willow there we hung our lyres …how shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land” (Ps.137:1-2,4)? Such a sad lament, and it was uttered by the chosen people of God. But Judah had displayed faithlessness and ingratitude. They were not thankful! Fortunately, for them, and I believe us as well, God never leaves his people lost and without hope!
Ezekiel would be taken by the spirit of God to an old battle site, where those slain had been left to the elements. He will asks of Ezekiel, “can these bones live” (Ez.37: 11)? The prophet’s only response could be, “Lord you know!” Only God could know, and He will command Ezekiel to prophesy “life.” Life to what was dried up, lifeless, and beyond hope. This was a message to Israel; that God can revive and restore even what seems only lifeless dry bones. God’s desire is always to bring life, renewal, and strength. It is a message, I believe, He would have us hear. For to God nothing is lost, forgotten, or ever hopeless. Once this new continent was proclaimed the “new promise land,” here was to arise the “New Israel.” This was to be “the shinny city on the hill.”
This Thanksgiving we need to believe that God will bring life to us, even our dry, lifeless, and spiritless society. In the not too distant past, people just like us brought hope, freedom, and faith to this vast untamed continent. By His grace there was born here a culture where Christianity flourished, and would spread to the end of the earth. And where we have carried the cross, poverty has been diminished, human hope reborn, and our Faith has grown. All this I know our Lord would do again, for we are still His “desire.”
Yet, do we know as a whole people that our blessing have come from God, and our Judaic-Christian culture? I don’t believe many do! Do we need to hear the warnings given Judah? “Those who lead this people (have) led them astray … every one is godless and an evildoer, and every mouth speaks folly” (Isa.9:16-17). “Because the land is full of bloody crimes and the city full of violence, I will bring the worst of the nations to take possession of (your) houses; I will put an end to (your) proud might…” (Ez.7:23-24). This was so distressing and so unnecessary. Judah had been given so much, and God desired to give so much more, just as He would us. But do we have ears to hear? “Shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this” (Jer.9:9). “…I will make you a desolation and object of reproach among the nations” (Ez.5:11,15). Do such words cause one to pause, and wonder how do we escape the same judgment? I know God’s covenant with Israel is not the same as our New Covenant. Still we have been given far more than we deserve, and my concerns for us are not eased! Too many, “prophesy not what is right; speak smooth things, and prophesy illusions” (Isa.30:10 Heb). Too many in authority choose to lie, cheat, seeking only to hold on to power. They give no thought to God!
Still there is the faithful remnant, like 7,000 that didn’t bend their knees to Baal, only it is now millions who have not bowed to the false gods of this age. They would like us “prophesy” truth, and thus life to our lifeless churches, seek the very breath of God, His spirit, to our own societies. Oh that He may again answer by “fire,” and the dry bones live!
Thankfully, we are His, always, but “the fire we need,”
Thomas Randolf Wyatt