The valley of dry bones
37 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me to and fro among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’
I said, ‘Sovereign Lord, you alone know.’
4 Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones and say to them, “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”’
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin 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 it, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.”’ 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army.
11 Then he said to me: ‘Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.” 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.”’
I believe God can raise people from the dead. I don’t think God needs to do it, but God can. I believe that God sustains everything, and all is because of God, but I don’t know how that works. I struggle with bits of the bible like this where the dead bones stand up like an army of the undead. Perhaps I have just watched to many zombie movies. Played too many computer games. Or remember too many 1980’s video cassette adverts, (rerecord, not fadeaway)
When I think about God I don’t mind “God the magician”, full of tricks and amazing things. ‘See that rock, now I give you water from it” (a classic from the back catalogue there). While I don’t mind it, I do think God comes across as a bit needy and as hard work, with a ‘let me show you something now that will amaze you then you will worship me!’ event occurring too often to be effective.
I wonder how this vision of a God that needs to use the undead to prove his power and glory, can coexist with the model of quiet confidence I see in Jesus.
"let me show you something that will amaze you" vs "come, and follow me”.
How are these visions of God both the same God? I guess in Jesus we see a new manifesto, a new way of God relating to humanity on earth. A way of peace, joy, love. A new way of loving your brother even if you have good reason to thump him. A new way of hospitality. A new way of stories. In many ways the intimate magic trick, making God disappear while also having God through the Holy Spirit always with us.
From the morning to the evening I will wonder about you
From the morning to the evening I will try to understand you
From the morning to the evening I will seek to find you
You will continue to let me be in wonder (and awe) of you
You will continue to let me see more of you
You will continue to let me find you.
Bless us by showing us more and less of your power, your absence, your bright light, your cloud of darkness.