God's Powerful Prophets: Ezekiel

Ezekiel Sermon Notes

Ezekiel

Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Sunday August 28, 2016

Pastor Paul L. Davis

Ezekiel 37

Key Goals: (Know) Know God’s power to bring life. (Feel) Feel a desire to serve and share Christ. (Do) Engage in the church.

Introduction: God’s Powerful Prophets. We are finishing up our exploration of four key men in God’s plan for redeeming mankind; they were all prophets. We looked at Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah and today Ezekiel. A prophet’s job was to tell God’s people the truth about God and their sin. They were to clearly reveal sins that needed to be repented of and truths that needed to be remembered. Sometimes, a prophetic word is exactly what we need to hear. People can become forgetful, rebellious, complacent, preoccupied, stubborn, busy and just plain disobedient. A prophet’s job was to wake people up and turn their hearts away from sin and towards God.

Ezekiel—the man and his book—are incredibly interesting. The book Ezekiel is one of the least controversial books of the Old Testament in that scholars almost universally agree that Ezekiel was real and that he wrote his book. Which is odd, because it is also the only book in the Old Testament that Jews would not read publicly. In fact, not one person in the New Testament quotes Ezekiel. It was considered far too crude and vulgar to read in the synagogue. (See chapters 16 & 23 for a graphic example.) Let’s explore Ezekiel’s most famous prophecy. In it we will find hope for our lives, but also a powerful vision for what the Lord desires for Calvary and our opportunity in Hamilton.

Ezekiel ministered at the same time as Jeremiah. You can divide the book of Ezekiel into two parts. The first: “warnings of impending disaster.” Ezekiel saw himself as a watchman on the wall who must warn people of their sin and its consequences (Ezek. 33). The second: “hope for the future.” This includes stories and pictures of God’s future grace and restoration of his people. The passage this morning was written after the Babylonians had taken the Jewish nation captive. The disasters had come and now the people were in desperate need of hope.

Ezekiel 37:1–14[1]

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.

We have no idea where this valley may have been, but it could have been one of many valleys. Ancient armies would line up against each other on opposing mountains with valleys in between, and the battle would be fought in the valley. If the battle was in a desolate location, the fallen would be left behind. This seems to have been the case, and the battle must have been fought some time prior for the bones to be so dry.

3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”

Ezekiel was, in effect, saying “that if it can be done, and if it is to be done, then God must do it.”[2]

 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.” 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.

This was a powerful and hopeful prophecy that God would physically restore his people. The bones, sinew and flesh represent the cities, towns and neighborhoods that God would rebuild after the captivity. God was promising to rebuild his people. The statement “there was no breath in them” is interesting; the picture that God is painting is of a people spiritually dead, just dry bones; he sees men and women dead in sin. Their bodies may be alive, but spiritually they are dead.[3]

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.

This second prophecy speaks to the gospel. There is both a physical and spiritual aspect to God rebuilding his people. The wind and the breath represent the Holy Spirit working through the gospel to restore the people’s relationship with the Lord.

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.’  Israel is in captivity. Their hope is lost. 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves…13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.

God is going to rebuild his people, re-establish what has died and gone away. When people look at what he has done, everyone will know that he is the Lord.  

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.”

This passage is as important today as it was in Ezekiel’s time. I wonder if we could visualize the people of Holland and Hamilton spiritually, would see a great army for the Lord or valleys of dry bones? The reason why we as a church need to be so passionate about sharing Christ is because he alone gives life! Jesus himself told us in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.“ We cannot, we must not, let our friends and family lie spiritually dead. We owe it to them to share the abundant life Jesus brings. What God did in this valley, God can do and is doing today.

Ezekiel 37:11 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…” There is no other god like YAHWEH who says that he loves to give hope—not Allah, Buddha, Hare Krishna, and not one of the 100,000’s of Hindu gods. But the Bible tells us in Psalm 147:11The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love. God loves to give hope when hope is lost.

When we first began talking with Hamilton Baptist Church, they did not have any hope. They had been fighting to survive for years; the people were tired, discouraged and without hope. The Lord is doing “a new thing” and breathing life and hope into Hamilton through us. That empty building down there will soon be filled with life and the gospel. God is calling us to bring hope to the hopeless in Hamilton. God loves to prove his power by pouring out his Spirit and bringing dead things to life.  

Ezekiel 37:13-14 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.”

I honestly do not know how we are going to do everything we need to do to make two campuses work. I’ve asked God, why us? It is stretching us leadership-wise, making our finances (best year giving ever, by the way) all of a sudden feel inadequate. Time, talent, resources—all of these are stretched thin. But God loves to prove his power by bringing dead things to life, and we are already seeing God raise up new ministry leaders as well as gifts and money going further than they should. God is bringing new families into our body already. This is faith in action. The beauty of The Church @ Hamilton is that The Church @ Holland has to step out in faith and let God do what he loves to do: pour out his Spirit to bring dead things to life.

3 Challenges to Engage: As a church, we must be about the business of bringing the life of the gospel to dry bones all around us in Holland and Hamilton!

1. Step up and Serve: If you have been waiting for a reason to serve in ministry, now is the time to serve. Psalm 100:2 challenges us to serve the Lord with gladness!  The Hebrew word for gladness means happiness and joy, often used in conjunction with dancing and song (Ps. 137:3).

2. Rise up and Lead: If you have already been serving faithfully in a ministry, it may be time for you to lead. Rise up. The apostle Paul told Timothy (I Tim 3:1) that if a person desires to lead, he desires a “noble task.” In other words, it is a good thing to want to lead.

3. Dig deep and Give: I have a confession: I am praying every week about our offerings. I am praying about us being halfway on our Haggai Project by 10/16/16. I am praying about us exceeding our general budget by 10%—we are going to need it to cover the lights, heat and maintenance costs of a new campus. I am also praying for gifts above and beyond. We have about $50,000 worth of extra stuff that we could do here and at Hamilton. It is an exciting time to be part of these churches, but we need to dig deep and give.

God showing himself strong through his people giving, serving and leading is how we will rattle dead bones and bring people to life!  

 

© Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to use and reproduce this material in any format for spiritual, non-commercial purposes. We only ask that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Please include the following statement on any distributed material: by Paul L. Davis. © Calvary Baptist Church of Holland.

 

[1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV.

[2] Peter Jeffery, Opening up Ezekiel’s Visions, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2004), 114.

[3] Ibid., 117.