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Ezekiel 37 - Dry Bones and the Restoration of Hope
by Major Charles Roberts


The book of Ezekiel is a prophetic book filled with visions, symbols, and messages from God. In Ezekiel 37, we encounter one of the most famous visions, where God reveals to Ezekiel a scene of dry bones coming to life. This vision serves as a powerful metaphor for God's ability to restore hope and life to seemingly hopeless situations. To fully understand the significance of this passage, we'll delve into the historical background of Ezekiel's ministry, explore the symbolism of the vision, and examine supporting Scriptures that highlight the theme of restoration and hope.


Historical Background:

Ezekiel was a prophet and priest who lived during a tumultuous period in Israel's history. He was among the first group of exiles taken to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar after the fall of Jerusalem in 597 BC. The people of Israel were in a state of despair, feeling abandoned by God due to their disobedience and the destruction of the temple. It's in this context that God called Ezekiel to prophesy to the exiles, delivering messages of both judgment and hope. As with all the prophets, the actual lived experience of the prophet is in fact prophetic.


The Vision of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14):

In this vision, God transports Ezekiel to a valley filled with dry bones, representing the lifelessness and hopelessness of the Israelites in exile. Let's break down the elements of the vision:


      The Valley of Dry Bones: The bones are a symbol of the exiled Israelites who have lost hope and feel spiritually dead.


      God's Question to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37:3): God asks Ezekiel if these bones can live, emphasizing the seemingly impossible nature of the situation. This question challenges Ezekiel's faith and underscores the sovereignty and power of God.


      Ezekiel's Prophetic Action (Ezekiel 37:4-6): God instructs Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones, declaring God's promise of restoration and life. As Ezekiel obeys, the bones begin to come together, tendons and flesh cover them, and breath enters them.


     The Explanation of the Vision (Ezekiel 37:11-14): God interprets the vision, explaining that the bones represent the exiled Israelites who feel spiritually and nationally dead. God promises to open their graves, bring them back to the land of Israel, and restore them spiritually. This restoration symbolizes the revival of hope and a renewed relationship with God.


Supporting Scriptures:


Psalm 126:4-6: "Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them." This passage parallels Ezekiel's message of restoration and shows that God can turn mourning into joy.


Isaiah 43:18-19: "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?" These verses remind us that God's power to bring about newness and restoration is not limited by our past failures or circumstances.


Romans 8:11: "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you." This New Testament passage echoes the theme of resurrection and restoration found in Ezekiel's vision.


What is the symbolic application of the phrase in Ezekiel 37 - "Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished."


The phrase "Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished" from Ezekiel 37:11 carries significant symbolic meaning within the context of the chapter and in relation to our own lives. The life is carried in the blood, and blood is made in the bones. Therefore, the very idea of bones is symbolic of the total function of the person. This phrase captures the deep sense of despair, hopelessness, and spiritual desolation experienced by the exiled Israelites. Symbolically, it reflects the human condition when we feel cut off from God, when our circumstances seem impossible, and when we have lost all hope.


Let's explore the symbolic application of this phrase:


    Spiritual Deadness: The phrase "our bones are dried up" reflects spiritual deadness and separation from God. Just as dry bones lack life and vitality, we can find ourselves spiritually dry and disconnected from God when we allow sin, disobedience, or life's challenges to distance us from Him.


       Loss of Hope: "Our hope has perished" speaks to the loss of hope in the face of overwhelming circumstances. When we encounter trials, suffering, or disappointments, it's easy to feel as though our hope has vanished. This loss of hope can lead to despair and a sense of being trapped in a cycle of hopelessness.


     Brokenness and Desperation: The imagery of dry bones evokes a sense of brokenness and desperation. It symbolizes our broken state when we are unable to fix or restore our own lives. In times of brokenness, we may feel helpless and unable to mend the situation ourselves.


    Human Inability and God's Sovereignty: The phrase highlights the contrast between human frailty and God's sovereignty. In our own strength, we are powerless to bring about restoration and hope. However, the vision of the dry bones coming to life emphasizes that God's power can transform even the most lifeless and hopeless situations.


       Cry for Divine Intervention: This phrase serves as a cry for divine intervention. When we recognize our own spiritual dryness and the loss of hope, we are positioned to seek God's help and guidance. It's a call for God to step in and breathe life into our circumstances, just as He did with the dry bones.


     Hope in Restoration: While the phrase initially conveys hopelessness, it also points us toward the possibility of restoration. The very act of acknowledging our spiritual dryness and lost hope can lead us to seek God's restoration and renewal in our lives.


Don’t these factors in this list remind you of COVID?


In our lives today, we can relate to the symbolic application of this phrase when we face challenges, setbacks, and moments of spiritual desolation. Just as God's promise in Ezekiel 37 was to bring life to the dry bones, we are reminded that God can bring renewal, hope, and restoration to our brokenness and despair. This phrase encourages us to turn to God in our moments of hopelessness, trusting in His power to bring about transformation and renewal in our lives. It also serves as a reminder that our hope is ultimately anchored in God's faithfulness and redemptive work, vis a vis, Christ at Calvary.


But when the foundations are crumbling, what do the righteous do? Here’s an idea for you:


“Emotionally Healthy Spirituality" by Peter Scazzero provides a framework for developing a mature and healthy spirituality that encompasses emotional well-being and deep connection with God. Let's relate the principles from this book to the themes found in Ezekiel 37:


1. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and Contemplative Spirituality:

Ezekiel 37 illustrates the journey from spiritual dryness to restoration. The valley of dry bones represents emotional and spiritual deadness. Just as Scazzero emphasizes the importance of connecting with our emotions and practicing contemplative spirituality, the vision in Ezekiel encourages us to engage with our emotional and spiritual state honestly before God. The process of prophesying over the dry bones can be seen as a contemplative practice of acknowledging our brokenness and seeking God's restoration.


2. Incarnational Spirituality:

Ezekiel's prophetic actions in the vision demonstrate a form of incarnational spirituality. He physically engaged with the dry bones, representing God's involvement in our brokenness. This resonates with Scazzero's call to embody our spirituality and engage with life fully, rather than compartmentalizing our faith and emotions.


3. Practicing Sabbath Delight:

The message of restoration in Ezekiel 37 echoes the idea of finding delight in God's restoration. The restoration of hope and life is a cause for celebration, much like the concept of practicing Sabbath delight in the midst of life's challenges, as advocated by Scazzero.


4. Honoring the Body: - The Body is not a minor prophet

The vision of the dry bones can symbolize the emotional and spiritual toll that neglecting our emotional health can take on our bodies. Scazzero's principle of honoring the body reminds us that our spiritual and emotional well-being are interconnected, and addressing one impacts the other.


5. Process of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality:

Ezekiel's journey from a valley of dry bones to a restored and living community aligns with the process of emotional health that Scazzero outlines. The vision illustrates that genuine emotional and spiritual transformation involves acknowledging brokenness, embracing God's work of restoration, and moving toward wholeness.


6. Perfection vs. Emotional Health:

The phrase "Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished" reflects a sense of despair resulting from trying to maintain a facade of perfection. Scazzero's axiom of letting go of false ideals and embracing emotional health is mirrored in the vision, where God restores hope by addressing the reality of the situation rather than pretending everything is fine.


7. Enlarge Your Soul Through Grief and Loss:

The emotional depth of the phrase "Our bones are dried up" captures the weight of grief and loss. The vision of restoration reminds us that God is present even in times of loss, and healing and enlargement of the soul can emerge from addressing and processing grief.


8. Discover the Rhythms of the Daily Office and Sabbath:

Ezekiel's prophetic engagement with the dry bones and his obedience in speaking life align with the idea of engaging in daily spiritual practices. Just as the dry bones came to life through prophetic declaration, our spirituality can be nurtured through consistent rhythms of spiritual practices.


9. Grow into an Emotionally Mature Adult:

The entire process in Ezekiel 37—from acknowledging spiritual dryness to experiencing restoration—reflects the journey toward emotional maturity and spiritual growth. Scazzero's principle of becoming an emotionally mature adult is embodied in the transformation seen in the vision.


10. Develop a Rule of Life:

The vision of restoration in Ezekiel 37 can be seen as a foundational aspect of developing a "rule of life." It emphasizes the importance of aligning our lives with God's transformative work, integrating our emotional, spiritual, and physical dimensions into a holistic rule of life.


In summary, the themes in Ezekiel 37 resonate with the principles of emotionally healthy spirituality outlined by Peter Scazzero. The journey from dry bones to restored life reflects the process of embracing emotional well-being, cultivating a mature spirituality, and integrating our faith with all aspects of our lives.


Peter Scazzero's quote, "Jesus may be in your heart, but Grandpa is in your bones," highlights the idea that our family history, experiences, and generational patterns can deeply influence our behavior and emotions. This quote can be connected to Ezekiel 37 in a way that emphasizes the transformation and renewal that God brings to our deepest places, even those influenced by our family and past.


1. Generational Influence:

Ezekiel 37:1-14 portrays a vision of dry bones coming to life. These bones represent not only the spiritual and emotional state of the people of Israel but also the generational history and legacy they carried. The Israelites' spiritual dryness and hopelessness were influenced by their past actions and the consequences of their ancestors' choices. Similarly, Scazzero's quote acknowledges that our family history and generational influences can shape our emotional responses and attitudes.


2. Transformation and Restoration:

The vision of the dry bones being brought back to life parallels the concept of transformation and restoration in Scazzero's quote. Just as God restored hope to the Israelites through the renewal of their bones, He can also transform our ingrained patterns, behaviors, and emotions that have been influenced by generational baggage. This restoration goes beyond surface-level change; it reaches deep into the core of who we are, even down to our "bones."


3. God's Redemptive Work:

Ezekiel's prophetic actions in the vision emphasize God's ability to address the deep-rooted issues of the people. Similarly, Scazzero's quote reminds us that even though we have Jesus in our hearts, we may still carry unresolved emotional and generational wounds. However, God's transformative work, depicted in Ezekiel 37, shows that He can penetrate those deeply ingrained areas and bring healing, restoration, and renewal.


4. Integrating Faith and Emotional Health:

Both Ezekiel 37 and Scazzero's quote emphasize the integration of faith and emotional health. The vision illustrates that our emotional and spiritual states are interconnected, and God's transformative work involves restoring both. Scazzero's quote encourages us to recognize that our emotional health has roots in our family history, and addressing these roots can lead to greater emotional and spiritual well-being.


5. Moving from Despair to Hope:

The phrase "Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished" from Ezekiel 37 reflects the depth of despair experienced by the Israelites. Similarly, Scazzero's quote acknowledges that our generational baggage and emotional wounds can lead to patterns of despair. However, the vision's message of restoration and Scazzero's emphasis on emotional health both point toward the possibility of moving from despair to hope through God's redemptive work.


In conclusion, connecting Ezekiel 37 to Peter Scazzero's quote "Jesus may be in your heart, but Grandpa is in your bones" underscores the transformative and renewing power of God. Both the vision of the dry bones and the quote emphasize that God's work of restoration goes deep into our generational patterns, emotions, and behaviors. Through His redemptive work, God can bring healing, renewal, and transformation to even the most deeply ingrained aspects of our lives, allowing us to move from a state of spiritual and emotional dryness to a place of hope, healing, and wholeness (aka, Holiness)



Ezekiel 37 is a powerful reminder that God is able to bring life and hope to even the most hopeless situations. Just as God breathed life into the dry bones, He can breathe new life into our brokenness, despair, and spiritual deadness. The vision teaches us to trust in God's power to restore, renew, and bring about transformation in our lives. As we meditate upon this passage, may we find comfort in the promise of God's restoration and allow it to inspire us to cling to hope, even in the midst of challenging circumstances.










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