“The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ So I answered, ‘O Lord God, You know’ ” (Ezekiel 37:1-3).
Have you ever felt there was no hope? The prophet Ezekiel had heard the news of the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians (Ezekiel 33:21). Hearing this terrible news must have created feelings of hopelessness for his beloved nation. What hope was there for Israel’s future?
As the book of Ezekiel closes, God shows His people there was great hope for their future. God had to bring His terrible judgment upon Israel and the other nations so that He might be just and His name might be glorified. God states, “I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day forward” (Ezekiel 39:21-22). The Gentile nations would know that God had executed His judgment upon Israel because of her sins against Him: “The Gentiles shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity; because they were unfaithful to Me, therefore I hid My face from them. I gave them into the hand of their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I have dealt with them, and hidden My face from them” (Ezekiel 39:23-24).
Although bearing His judgment, God gave bright hope to His people: “Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Now I will bring back the captives of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name-- after they have borne their shame, and all their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, when they dwelt safely in their own land and no one made them afraid. 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,' says the Lord God” (Ezekiel 39:25-29).
As the opening verses above indicate, God illustrates His great hope for Israel’s future by showing Ezekiel the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-3). God told Ezekiel how these dry bones reflected Israel’s current feelings of hopeless: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, 'Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ ” (Ezekiel 37:11). However, God gave His people great hope as He told them of His plans to bring them back from captivity: “Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it," says the Lord’ ” (Ezekiel 37:12-14).
No matter how great my failures or how bleak I may feel about my hope, if I trust in God, He can still work amazing things in my life. He gives hope to the hopeless. He brings dry bones back to life!
“For You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth” (Psalm 71:5).