Dry Bones Come Alive

August 28, 2016 Ezekiel 37  

 

  Tough world we live in today isn’t it.  It can be very discouraging and frightening.  It seems we see disasters virtually every week.  We have seen the fires out in CA and the flooding in Louisiana Michigan, and Missouri.   There were the tornados in Indiana this week.  There is the whole political scene in the US that is really hard to grasp.  We see the divisions in our country and are reminded of the teaching of Jesus that a house divided against itself cannot stand.  Perry Stone said that it is planned that we have riots.  I would not want to live in a big city today.  My neighbors across the road left NYC because they were concerned and they are not Christians.  The number of reported abortions has been dropping in America year by year which is good but in 2012 it was 699,202 which are 1,915 babies a day.  My daughter in law is pregnant and is having a boy Jaren is due in November and he is kicking already. 

    Tough things are going on in the world today.  There was the earth quake in Italy this week.   Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice reports that Christians are being beheaded, enslaved and crucified.  He writes that 66% of Syrian Christians are decimated and Iraq’s Christians are 82% destroyed or displaced.     Bill Hybels reports that there are 85,000 refugees in Jordan behind barbed wire with open sewers and little food and water.  World Food Programs writes that there are 795 million undernourished people in the world today.  Action against Hunger Organization writes that 3.5 million children die every year from starvation and that is 9,589 children a day.  The sparrow does not fall to the ground without the father seeing it.  God cares about all those needs.  The Global Leadership ConferenceBill Hybels 155 billionaires

   We live in a crazy world today that can be a bit scary.   This article comes from the American Center for Law and Justice.   The Supreme Court of Pakistan has just agreed to hear Christian mom Asia Bibi's final appeal early.   Her fate could be decided in just weeks.  This Christian mother is on death row - sentenced to hang - for her faith.  She was charged, convicted, and sentenced to be executed for blasphemy.  It all started over a cup of water Asia Bibi offered a Muslim coworker - because as a Christian, she is considered "unclean."  Now Pakistan's Supreme Court will decide whether she will die for her Christian faith. The ACLJ - including our office in Pakistan - has been aggressively advocating across the globe for this Christian mom's freedom. She's languished on death row for more than 2,100 days - almost six years.   I freely admit that there is more to the story but we do get a sense that justice is perverted.  That is a couple of comments about the world we live in today.  It just flows our soul. 

    And there are our personal lives and our struggles.  There is the human suffering in this church.  We live with our fears and sorrows.   We live with our brokenness our bodies.  We struggle with the dissolving of this church.  We labor with paying our bills and I suspect that the enemy comes and whispers in our ear where is your God?  Can we talk about our pain?   Can we open up and share our real life with one another?   Are you honest with your spouse?  People can have so much pain they cannot even talk about it.  One of the signs of healing for some is the ability to share what is eating away in our lives.  We need to remember that other saints have gone before us.  Some of their stories are in Hebrews 11 and it can be encouraging to read and meditate on that chapter. 

    Ezekiel 37: 1 -14.   God’s people had sinned against God and God raised up Babylon to deport them.  They were far from their home land.  They were far from the temple.  That temple was so important for that is where God’s presence was.  They were hundreds of miles from home and from the temple.  They were probably 500 or 600 miles away as the bird would fly.  They might as well been a million miles away.  They were struck until God released them.  They were in a strange land.  Their world was turned upside down. I suspect they wondered if God would ever bless them again.    Things were dark.  God saw where they were at just like when they were in slavery in Egypt.  .  God told Ezekiel these bones represent the house of Israel.  They say our bones are dried up and our hope is gone and we are cut off.  God saw exactly how they felt.

   In the first 2 verses in this chapter Ezekiel writes the spirit of the Lord - the hand of the lord led me back and forth and gave him a vision of many bones.  Back and forth he went.  Soak this up Ezekiel.  See- absorb - understand how terrible it is.  Look at it.  Back and forth back and forth he traveled.  It is like God saying I want you to see every dry bone.  The bones were very dry no life.  Who wants to look at that kind of devastation?  Because we do not like to see things like that we can chose to ignore it. 

    In chapter 1 verse 1 Ezekiel is with the exiles on the Kebar River.  He had lived in Judah and had seen the invading armies.  He saw the downfall of his nation.   He was deported.  He saw Nebuchadnezzar come and destroy the walls of Jerusalem and destroy the temple.   If he did not see it firsthand he knew about it.  That was his world and things seemed very dark.    It is a very depressing situation and yet God takes him back and forth over the dry bones.  I think sometimes we do not see things like we should.   We can block things and then not see them as we should.  As Christians we want to see as God sees.   We want to understand as God understands.  Often when we are in the midst of it we just can’t see.  All we see is the pain.  About all that Job saw was the pain and that is normal.   

   The Israelites had seen the blessing of God and turned their backs on God and now they were deported.  I believe they thought God was done with them.  For them everything is dark.  Perhaps they wondered if God was aware of them.   They thought God was absent from their life.  God must have been absent from their life because they have no hope.   Their hope was gone but God was not done with them.  Psalm 137 gives us a flavor of how they felt.  By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.   There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”  How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?   If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.   May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.  Good question how do you sing when you are in such a mess.  We need to worship when we do not feel like it. 

    The writer continues remember, Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell.  “Tear it down,” they cried,  “tear it down to its foundations!”    Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us.    Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.  So there are some tough words.   We see the pain and the unforgiveness.  I know a Christian couple right now and Satan has turned their world upside down and in my mind they did nothing to deserve it.  They have children and they have to move and get new work.   I see her face book posts forgive 70 times 7 forgive 70 times 7.   We just pour over the bible promises and claim them. 

    So Ezekiel is a deported young man in his 30’s.   His life is over right?  There is no hope.   After he has been in Babylon for 4 or 5 years he is called into ministry.  It is not the end but the beginning.  God speaks and reveals things to him.  He has an important ministry.    It is not the end it is the beginning.  It was something new.  God had a plan.   What chance does Daniel and his 3 buddies have?   God has great plans.  A few years ago one of the elders in this church told me that though my beginning was small my latter end should greatly increase.  Job 8:7.   You may be facing a new chapter but it is not over.  God is into great things.   God is into blessing.  God may take your life groups and multiply them far greater than we can think.   God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think.  God will continue to bless the prayers and ministry that has been offered to the Lord from this church. 

   In verses 13 and 14 God tells them I will bring you back to your land.  God told them I will; multiply the number of people and animals upon you.  The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt so that they would know that he is God. .  God has promised to bless us also.   God tells them I will put my spirit in you.  We have the spirit of the living God in us.    People think Pastor you lay hands on the sick and ask God to heal them in Jesus name.  You have the same power in you that I have.  You have that same power in you that I have.  All of us are ministers.    I say you lay hand s on people and pray they will be healed in Jesus name.    Let all of God’s people walk in the glory and walk in the power of God.  You can walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.   I say you share Jesus and lead people to Jesus.  Is there anything greater in the world than leading others to Jesus?   Let’s see miracles through our lives.   God wants to use you today and tomorrow.  

     Moses and Abraham are key people in Israel’s history and they still are today.  Moses the law giver is very important to the Jews.  He was the pinnacle or the top.   Jesus comes on the scene and Jesus said truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.   That is interesting because the leaders did not recognize John the Baptist ministry.  John the Baptist was the pinnacle of the prophets.  He was the top and in Jesus words the greatest person born of woman.  Jesus puts John above Moses.  Jesus puts John the Baptist above Abraham.  Then Jesus said but the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist.  The least Christian is greater than Moses.   The least Christian is greater than Abraham. 

    In Ephesians 3 Paul writes that God hid what he was doing.  God did not allow the Old Testament believers to see or know what God had for us.   They wanted to see what was coming that which we now have but could not.   In Hebrews 11 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.  What God has done for you and I is glorious.  God gave us his spirit.   God gave us the Holy Spirit.  God has poured out his glory on us.  God has poured out his glory on you.  God is in the Christian.  God’s power is in the Christian.  God’s glory is in the Christian.  God’s blessing is in the Christian.  The least of the Christians is greater than John the Baptist and greater than Moses.   But we have a veil today and we do not see it.  We do not lay hold of the glory.  We do not lay hold of the power.  Don’t look back because the glory increases.  What we have today is better than what they had. 

     John the Baptist would say that Jesus was the greatest.  Jesus is the top and Jesus is the pinnacle.  And Jesus said in John 14:12 the works that I do you shall do and even greater works shall you do.  It almost seems like there is a blessing an anointing upon us that Jesus did not have.  Well that could sound almost like blasphemy.  Jesus did lay aside his powers and abilities as God and became a man which we see in Philippians 2.  Before the cross the spirit was on God’s people but not in them.  There are various verses that talk about the spirit on Jesus.  In John 3 John the Baptist said the spirit of God is given to Jesus without measure or without limit. 

    God has blessed you.  God’s spirit is in you.  God’s glory is in us.  God’s power is in us.  We need to ask God to remove the veil so we can see clearly.  We can break through into his presence in new and greater ways.  We can break through and into his glory and power. We can see miracles through our lives.   We can see people healed and set free.  We can see the power of sin broken.  Romans 8:32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?   Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.  What do those verses mean to us today?  God has done his part for us today.  We need to lay hold of those promises.  Greater is he in us than he that is in the world. 

 

    Don’t say there is nothing you can do about the conditions in the world today and hunger.  We can pray. .  Our denomination collects for hungry people in November.  Sally and I support a child through Food for the Hungry.  There is World Vision and Child Fund International formerly Christian Children Fund.  A child can be supported for about a dollar a day.   God can use your life to do great things today.     Your faith your prayers and your service are important