Tuesday, June 15, 2010

EZEKIEL 37: The Valley of Dry Bones

One of my absolute favorite chapters was chosen today for my "magic Bible" inspiration. Ezekiel 37, and the surrounding chapters fills me with pure helium. I take off. Sometimes, even after reading the words for the 10,000th time, I weep, close my eyes, and see New Jerusalem arriving from Heaven.

This is the part about discipleship that keeps me going. Today, I was not feeling well, and needed encouragement. Instead of receiving chastisement, I was given the encouragement I needed to feel strong.

The psychological link to pain is irrefutable. I need to have radical spinal surgery this summer, and face the fear of being in a wheel chair. With surgery, I have a good shot at becoming much more functional, and I am thankful that something is available to potentially help me. But, with the glass half full, there's the empty half, which warns of becoming more crippled, enduring more pain, or even dying. I have given it to the LORD, but, that doesn't mean, I have no concerns. I'd have to be a moron not to worry a little.

Ezekiel 37 could be titled, "The Valley of Bones." It is one of the most well loved metaphors about restoration in the Old Testament. It speaks of resurrection and hope.

 For me, with my spinal column collapsing, like the World Trade Center, from the top on down, it gives me the hope of indestructible bones, a pain free body, and the ability to cling to my most cherished hopes in the Coming of the LORD and His infinite mercy.

When God speaks, the messages carry the insight of both punishment and descriptions of eternal rewards. Even after punishment, there is the balm of mercy. If he destroys, it is to build up.

When I worked with clay, I understood the metaphor of the artist, who begins a work, and if there are too many flaws, the solution is to thrown the clay to the hard ground to destroy it, and then begin again. This is the parable of our own experiences. The truth is, that in our own strength and power, we cannot accomplish the task of perfecting our souls. We stumble in darkness, without the insight into our terminal flaws.

Ezekiel 37 speaks to the resurrection of national Israel, as the Kingdom of God approaches. It addresses the hopelessness of continuously fighting against the world, the flesh, and the devil, only to be hunted down and killed, from one generation to the next. It addresses the endless slaughter of Jews.

Many Holocaust survivors walked away without the belief in YHWH. How can He be for us, if he has let us down, and let our enemies conquer us? How can we reconcile with God allowing 6 million souls to perish   in such a cruel way? Even following the genocide of our race, no country wanted to take us in. Israel was formed as a way for the world to not deal with the Jews anymore. No country, not even England, America, or the Western alliances wanted more Jews in their countries.

They reluctantly agreed to create a Jewish homeland, knowing full well that the Palestinians would be displaced, and had to resent the occupation, a word that is now powerfully used to justify the final holocaust of the Jews.

Journalist Helen Thomas had no shame in cloaking her sentiments about Jews in Palestine, "Go back to Poland and Germany" or very plainly, Go back to Dachau and Auschwitz. Many excused her outburst as an age-related faux pas, but, the venom in her words is like the serpent's bite, and sent chills down my spine. To have some perspective, she is from a Lebanese family background, and at least she was honest. She had the guts to say what millions only speak of privately.

The truth is, the world wants the 12 million Jews to disappear, this time, for good. How eerie that God spoke of there being a "remnant" who would survive out of Abraham's seed, and there is a representative 1 million per original tribe of 12 (Jacob's sons.)

Iran's confederation with fearsome allies like Russia, China, Syria, Turkey, etc., is very discouraging when they are like the national Helen Thomases, shooting out dangerous rhetoric about Israel's annihilation.

On a deeper level, the full beauty of the Holy Spirit is expressed in the word play of the words, BREATH, SOUL, WIND, SPIRIT. All of these have one root, in the Hebrew word, "ruach"

God directs all living forces, whether from our breath, while we live, our life spirit, our souls, even the wind from heaven. This is nothing that can be classified by evolution or agnostic interpretation. Life is a miracle that God gives, and can restore, again, by supernatural forces. The Holy Spirit is part of this temporal to divine cycle. Let us never forget, or abandon hope..

Eze 37:1  The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which [was] full of bones,
Eze 37:2  And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, [there were] very many in the open valley; and, lo, [they were] very dry.
Eze 37:3  And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.
Eze 37:4  Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
Eze 37:5  Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
Eze 37:6  And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD.
Eze 37:7  So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
Eze 37:8  And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but [there was] no breath in them.
Eze 37:9  Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
Eze 37:10  So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
Eze 37:11  Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.
Eze 37:12  Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
Eze 37:13  And ye shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,
Eze 37:14  And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken [it], and performed [it], saith the LORD.
Eze 37:15  The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
Eze 37:16  Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and [for] all the house of Israel his companions:
Eze 37:17  And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.
Eze 37:18  And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou [meanest] by these?
Eze 37:19  Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which [is] in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, [even] with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.
Eze 37:20  And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes.
Eze 37:21  And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:
Eze 37:22  And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:
Eze 37:23  Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.
Eze 37:24  And David my servant [shall be] king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.
Eze 37:25  And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, [even] they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David [shall be] their prince for ever.
Eze 37:26  Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.
Eze 37:27  My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Eze 37:28  And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.

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