Ezekiel 37:7-14 (ESV)
7 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. 8 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. 9 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.” 10 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.
11 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.’ 12 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. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 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.”
Consider the lost, the dry, thirsty souls living in brown houses. They can be led beside “still waters of comfort,” those cool springs meandering through “green pastures.” Indeed, the lost can know a liberator pledged to “free them from the power of those who enslaved them.”
All it takes is a shepherd, or so David and Ezekiel claim.
Appearing elsewhere in the Old Testament, that same shepherd comes at the end to claim his lost sheep, securing for them the super-abundance of an eschatological harvest.
“Shepherding them rightly,” our Lord affirms in Ezekiel 34, “the lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal.”
The vision of Ezekiel 37 as well predicts a restoration. It concerns a restoration under the figure of a resurrection from the dead. For it is in the valley of the Dry Bones where we are to search out the reconciling of the lost with the Leader, the Good Shepherd.
The text establishes that the valley floor lies littered with the remains of an army cut off from hope because it was cut off from their leader. Figuratively, this is the whitened sepulcher of Israel, which is to be brought back to hope, and thus to life, through divine agency.
Restored to God, we are poised to bring body and soul together anew. By transforming the elements of our lives, God reconciles us not only one with another but even with ourselves.
Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has lain:
Love has come again, like wheat that springeth green.