BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
THE VALLEY OF DRY BONES
(A message for Gog)
In Ezekiel 37, verses 1-14, GOD gives the prophet Ezekiel a vivid illustration of the things that HE had promised in Ezekiel 36, concerning the restoration of Israel. The vision of “the dry bones revived” accentuates the fact of GOD’s sovereign power and ability to fulfill HIS promises. At that time, Israel was dead as a nation, and could see no way, as to how they could be extricated from their present condition. In their minds, restoration, at that time, seemed impossible.
In Ezekiel 36, verse 26, GOD promised to, first, put a “new (human) spirit”, or “desire” in the people of Israel, and then later (v.27), embody them with HIS HOLY SPIRIT, to help lead and guide those who desire to obey and live by HIS laws and directives, into all righteousness and eternity with HIM in Heaven. There HE was describing an eschatological time, when mankind would be cleansed of his “sin nature”, or desire to rebel against GOD and what is right and true.
Here in Ezekiel 37, GOD explains further, just what that kind of future event of transformation could be likened to. In this chapter, HE gives Ezekiel two signs that illustrate and confirm the promised resurrection and re-uniting of HIS chosen nation. The first is the sign of the “dry bones in the valley (Vs.1-14), and the second is the sign of “the two sticks” (Vs.15-28), the reuniting of northern Israel and Judah.
Using the power of HIS HOLY SPIRIT, GOD, takes Ezekiel to a valley that was filled with the dry, sun-bleached bones of human remains. Then, GOD asks HIS prophet this question; “Son of man, can these bones become living bodies again?” In other words, is there any way for life and flesh to be restored to these sun-baked bones that you see before you?
Knowing the human impossibility of what GOD was asking him, Ezekiel answered his LORD in the only way that a trusting man of faith could ever answer, when he responded, “Only YOU LORD know the answer to that”. He knew that only GOD could accomplish a task of that magnitude.
God then orders HIS servant Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones around him and immediately the transformation from “death to life” had begun. Ezekiel began to hear the rattling of bones all across the valley floor, as the bones of each body began to re-attach themselves as they had been before. Then, he watched in utter amazement as muscle and flesh began to form over the bones, and the skin began to cover the, still lifeless, sinews of the reconstructed human figures.
Then GOD instructs Ezekiel to speak to the wind that it may breathe life into the restored bodies that lay around him in the valley, and when he did, the great army of humanity, stood to its feet. Then GOD said to Ezekiel, “These bones represent the nation of Israel”. She has become a nation that could be likened to dry bones, as all hope had been sucked from her existence. Her anticipation of ever being released from Babylonian captivity had dried up long ago, like the dry bones in that visionary valley.
And now, GOD would open up their graves of exile, and cause them to rise again into health and prosperity. And so, we see a “physical restoration” symbolizing “the national restoration of Israel”, and we also see in this passage, a return to faith in GOD, which symbolizes a “spiritual restoration”.
These events would occur in such a way, that, all involved would know that it was the LORD WHO was responsible for their revived fortunes. In addition, GOD promised to indwell each of HIS people (the revived bodies), with a HOLY SPIRIT from on high that would cause them to know that HE is sovereign, and, that HE has kept HIS promise to them, alive.
GOD provides “New Life” for all who seek it, and we only need to ask, in faith, to receive it. The vision that GOD showed so vividly to Ezekiel that day, was just the LORD’s way of revealing to us that HE is able, and also willing, to grant us a free pass into an eternity with HIM, all at the expense of CHRIST JESUS, our LORD and SAVIOR, if, we are willing to accept HIS benevolence.
In verses 15-28 we see the second of the two signs featured in this passage, and it is the sign of the two sticks. It is prophecy of the re-uniting of northern Israel and Judah. In verses 15-19 GOD says;
… “Son of man, take a piece of wood and carve on it these words: “This represents Judah and its allied tribes. Then take another piece and carve these words on it: ‘This represents Ephraim and the northern tribes of Israel.’ Now hold them together in your hand as if they were one piece of wood. When your people ask you what your actions mean, say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take Ephraim and the northern tribes and join them to Judah. I will make them one piece of wood in my hand”.
After the death of King Solomon, Ephraim, the tribe that made up northern Israel, had torn itself away from southern Israel (Judah), and the remaining tribes. Northern Israel had since been conquered by the Assyrians in 722 B.C., and had been intermixed with Assyrian relations that formed the hated Samaritans people of JESUS’ day. They were half breed Jews who were no longer accepted by their southern counterparts.
Here in this passage GOD promises a re-unification of the two estranged nations into “one nation under GOD”, indivisible, once again. Here, GOD is again speaking of an eschatological time when the “Millennial Kingdom” of CHRIST will be formed here on earth at history’s end. One KING will rule over the whole earth at that time, JESUS CHRIST, of the lineage of David. At that time, all people on earth will only desire to worship CHRIST and obey GOD the FATHER completely. HE will be our GOD, and we will be HIS people, and Israel will hold a special place in that world as GOD’s chosen people forever (Vs.20-28).
Through GOD’s faithfulness and power, we can all enjoy “new life” just for the asking, and HE will always “restore” and “unite” the people who share a common allegiance to CHRIST JESUS. Some believe that this particular passage of scripture does speak of the present Jewish state, and if it does, then the coming of the MESSIAH must be drawing near, however, whenever CHRIST does return, the remainder of these prophesies will find their fulfillment in a great movement toward HIM as the MESSIAH of all mankind. It is then when GOD’s promises of restoration and blessing, can and will, be completely realized, consummated, and fulfilled.
In Ezekiel 38, we see the sixth and final series of prophesies uttered by the prophet Ezekiel prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Here he prophesies against “Gog” (ro’sh – “the chief prince”) and the land of “Magog (the area of modern-day Russia, eastern Turkey, and Iran) where he ruled. He foretells an event in the distant future when Gog will invade Israel while she is at peace. GOD tells Ezekiel in verses 3-9, to announce to the chief prince;
“… Gog, I am your enemy! 4 I will turn you around and put hooks in your jaws to lead you out with your whole army—your horses and charioteers in full armor and a great horde armed with shields and swords. 5 Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya will join you, too, with all their weapons. 6 Gomer and all its armies will also join you, along with the armies of Beth-togarmah from the distant north, and many others.
7 “Get ready; be prepared! Keep all the armies around you mobilized, and take command of them. 8 A long time from now you will be called into action. In the distant future you will swoop down on the land of Israel, which will be enjoying peace after recovering from war and after its people have returned from many lands to the mountains of Israel. 9 You and all your allies—a vast and awesome army—will roll down on them like a storm and cover the land like a cloud.”
The LORD further states that, at that time evil thoughts will come into the mind of Gog and cause him to devise an evil scheme against Israel that involves several allies (v.10). And while GOD does not cause this hostility toward Israel to happen, HE does seem to create the conditions which will lead Gog to outwardly express his hostility against Israel.
This passage presents the picture of a scenario where Gog will be joined in his attack by other nations who will come from different directions to ascend upon Israel. In verse 5 Ezekiel identifies those nations that will ally with Meshech and Tubal (Russia) as Persia (Iran), Cush (Ethiopia), and Put (Libya). And so, these territorial references at least suggest that parts of Russia, eastern Turkey, and Iran will likely be involved.
And so Gog, feeling that Israel is quite vulnerable at that time, will seize the opportunity to pounce upon this peaceful and confident, revived nation, and attempt to capture its now vast amounts of plunder and take the surviving populace back to their own countries as slaves.
However, little does Gog know that this attack will be used by GOD, to show HIS sovereignty, and power in the world. By going against Israel, all those nations will come to know GOD, and as a result of their failed attack, Israel will be empowered further, and GOD HIMSELF will be even more glorified (Vs.14-16).
When all those armies reached Israel, GOD interrupted their charge with a massive earthquake that spread fear and confusion throughout their military ranks. During this confusion, all communications broke down between the four invading nations, causing them to actually begin attacking each other. In addition to disease, heavy rainfall, hail, and burning sulfur (probably volcano ash) added to their problems, all of which were forms of “natural disasters” that can only be controlled by the hand of GOD (Vs.17-23).
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website