Ezekiel 37:1-6 (ESV)
1 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. 2 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. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 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.”
“A taste of mint chocolate chip, please.” Apologies to those who have given up ice cream for Lent. But we need to make a point.
There is, in the Bible, something called foreshadowing and it works much like a taste of mint chocolate chip ice cream. It prepares us or helps us understand something that comes later (like a triple dip cone).
The experience of Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones is like that. It was an experience through which we can better understand later events. It was a foreshadowing of two things.
First, this story foreshadows the power of the Holy Spirit that came at Pentecost. We recognize this in verse 5, “Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.” The Greek word for breath is pneuma. Pneuma can also be translated as wind or spirit. All three are used to describe the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is, of course, “the Lord and giver of life.” He brings life, both physical and spiritual. That is what we see in the valley of dry bones. The breath of God, the Spirit of God brought life where there was only death.
The second thing Ezekiel’s experience foreshadows is the general resurrection at the end of the age. Remember, when Jesus returns, the dead will rise, much like in the valley of dry bones.
Except the newly alive warriors in Ezekiel’s experience had regular bodies and were destined to die again. Not so at the general resurrection. When Jesus returns, the dead will be raised but with a new type of body, a resurrection body, a body that will not die again.
In the valley of dry bones, there was a taste, a hint, a foreshadowing of future things. One has happened already. One is yet to come.
Breathe on me breath of God. Amen.