And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them.Ezekiel 37:8(NASB)
The final few chapters of Ezekiel give some important prophetic insight into God's future plan for His people, Israel, in the end times. The prophet is supernaturally spirited away from his home while exiled in Babylon and given a curious vision of a valley full of dry, human bones.
This vision speaks of Israel's future restoration to the promised land, but shows that their return to the Lord will be established in a number of stages culminating with them being fully and finally returned into unbroken fellowship with the God of their forefathers. But first, they must be spiritually enlivened when the Holy Spirit of God breathes the breath of new life into their cold, dead hearts - by their faith in Christ.
Ezekiel was brought by the Spirit of the Lord into a place where a huge number of bones lay exposed on the surface of the ground. He asked Ezekiel a strange question. "Can these bones live?" Ezekiel admitted that the Lord alone knew the answer, but was then challenged by God to prophesy over them and say to them, "O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord God to these bones, 'Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you. I will make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the LORD.'"
The God Who created the universe is perfectly able to cause dry bones, scattered on the ground, to live physically. The Spirit who breathed into the nostrils of Adam is equally able to breathe the breath of new life into these scattered people. "And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them." Though physically restored these people were still spiritually empty.
The valley of dry bones does not have anything to do with the Church as some teach. Ezekiel was told that the valley of dry bones referred to the restoration of the whole house of Israel - their physical restoration to the land and their spiritual restoration to their God. It has to do with both the reestablishment of the northern and southern kingdoms as one nation under God, living in the land He promised them... and the ratification of the New Covenant He gave to His people.
The New Covenant promised to Israel was cut two thousand years ago through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. And although the church is the current beneficiary, and Christians have been made ministers of the New Covenant, it will be finally ratified and fully implemented when the scattered bones of God's chosen people are restored... physically and spiritually. This can only happen when the scales of unbelief fall from Israel's eyes and the whole nation acknowledges Jesus as Messiah and Lord.
Apart from a small remnant who have become fellow-members of Christ's Body together with Gentile believers, the vast majority of Jews continue to reject their Messiah and remain dead in trespasses and sin. Despite being God's chosen people, they are a nation of unbelievers - a nation of 'dead bones', and they will remain spiritually lifeless until they are quickened and spiritually enlivened by the in-breathing of the Holy Spirit. New life can only come through faith in JESUS, their Messiah. THEN they will be given a new heart of flesh, to replace their cold, lifeless, heart of stone.
Having been absent from their land for 2000 years, God in His grace allowed many of His scattered people to return to their homeland... but they returned in unbelief and for over 70 years have remained lifeless - spiritually dead in their sin and estranged from their God. Today they are like the lifeless, human bones Ezekiel saw in his vision when he was asked by God, "Can these bones live?" and was instructed to prophesy over them.
Having obeyed the Word of the Lord and spoken to that vast valley of dead bones, Ezekiel looked at the open grave and watched the scene. He heard a rattling sound and saw the Spirit of God begin to perform a marvellous work. "I looked," he wrote, "and behold, sinews were on the bones, and flesh grew and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them."
The physical preceded the spiritual. The physical restoration of the dry bones happened first, when the sinews and muscles, flesh and skin covered the scattered bones and Ezekiel saw an army of silent, lifeless Israelites lying on the ground - but there was no breath in them. Spiritual restoration had yet to take place in 'that valley of dry bones'. Spiritual restoration has yet to take place in Israel today.
The nation of Israel may have been born in a day in 1948 and they may have developed some 'sinews', grown some 'flesh', and been covered with skin - but they remain a stillborn nation, estranged from God. Although a form of physical restoration has occurred, there will be no spiritual renewal until they finally acknowledge their sin, recognise their Messiah, and they cry out to Him, "Hosanna!! Save us!!" And this will take place at the end of the coming time of Jacob's trouble.
Heavenly Father, I marvel at the wonderful way that You have kept a faithful watch over Your people, Israel, and returned many back to their land, despite their continuing unbelief and spiritual poverty. It is wonderful to see the way You have guarded them through centuries of time and to know that a day is coming when they will not only be physically restored to their promised land and permanently settled there, but will be spiritually enlivened by faith in Christ, and have their New Covenant fully ratified, when Jesus is crowned as King and hailed as Lord. Thank You that I too have been made spiritually alive by faith in Christ and am a minister of the new and better covenant that was cut at Calvary. Thank You that Your promises to both Israel and the Church are 'yes' and 'amen' in Christ Jesus my Lord, in Whose name I pray, AMEN.