Hi. Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host of the daily challenges. Today is Tuesday, the day we study the Bible together. This week we’re going to study a vision from the Prophet Ezekiel, who wrote in a time when it seemed Israel’s existence was under threat.  Here’s how God gave Ezekiel hope, that he could communicate to the people. Like other prophecies we’ve read in this series, it includes a lot of symbols and difficult poetry to interpret, but this one helpfully includes the interpretation as well.

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, 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, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”

(Ezekiel 37:1-14 ESV)

Could you picture that?  Envision this actually happening – it’s chilling and awesome at once.  Now imagine the hope this would give to a devastated people.

These bones represent the nation of Israel.  They are not just dead, they are dry, they’ve been dead so long.  God says this is what’s about to happen to Israel – they’ll be overrun by Babylon, their temple destroyed, their self-governance gone – they will be dead, dead, dead as dry bones laying forgotten in a valley.  But God is giving them hope – he will breathe new life into even the deadest bones.  He will bring new life to even the most hopeless of situations, when there is no hope in us.  When Israel is at its weakest, he’ll bring them back to life. The image of them rising up as an army shows they’ll be strong and secure.

He’ll return them to their land, and his Spirit (or breath) will live in them, even if he doesn’t live in a temple.  They may have nothing now, but someday they will have everything, simply because the Spirit of God is with them.

Question: What kind of hope do you imagine this scene gave to Israel?