Every now and then I seem to dream these dreams
Where the mute ones speak and the deaf ones sing
Touching that miraculous circumstance
Where the blind ones see and the dry bones dance
— Mark Herd (“The Dry Bones Dance” from Dry Bones Dance, 1990)
God told Ezekiel to prophecy to the bones. He did. They assembled.
God told Ezekiel to prophecy to the wind. He did. They stood up.
Next God told Ezekiel to prophecy to the people.
Most people would have stopped after the first two prophecies. Everyone had come back to life—all’s well that ends well, right? There was more to God’s plan than Ezekiel knew.
. . .
After coming to live, the former dry bones were unhappy. Listen to their complaint:
Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely. (v. 11, NRSV)
Does that sound ungrateful? They had just been reconstituted and revivified by the breath of God himself! Still, they felt dry.
Their physical resurrection was only the prelude to God’s final prophecy: Israel would return to her land. In a pattern that Jesus would fulfill centuries later, God brought Israel out of her grave and back to her promised land.
. . .
How often do we feel the same way? Has your soul ever felt like a dried up and flaking roll of birch bark?
In Ezekiel’s day, Israel was brought out of her grave and restored to her land. In the New Testament times, Jesus was brought out of his grave and restored to the glory he had before the world began. Today, in faith, God brings us out of our spiritual graves and plants our feet firmly in his new kingdom—that effervescent yet elusive world where we walk by faith instead of sight.
I’ve spent a lot of nights in the wilderness: the driest tinder is the quickest to ignite.
We cannot light ourselves. We cannot will ourselves into grace. We cannot assemble ourselves. All we can do is put our lives in a place where God is able to heal us and bring our dry bones together. Dry bones dance.
. . .
Creator of life, renew the life you have created in me. Remind me of my citizenship as I walk in your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.