Ezekiel 37: 1-14 (NRSVA)
1 The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me all round them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 3 He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ 4 Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 I will lay sinews on 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 had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’ 10 I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.
11 Then he said to me, ‘Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 14 I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.’
Bread — I love it! Soda, potato, sourdough, wheaten, plain, pan… yikes! I better stop, but not before I mention ‘Ezekiel’s bread’! Yes, you read that correctly… Check it out online. Ezekiel’s bread is flour-free, gluten-free, low GMO, high-fibre, diabetic friendly, vegan — och it’s amazing and I can’t wait to try out the recipe. Go to Ezekiel 4:9 and see the ingredients listed.
You will notice that there is NO yeast required! Ordinarily, yeast is essential for making a good loaf, it is the driving force behind the fermentation and the rising of the bread. Without yeast the bread won’t rise, this single-celled fungus is the power in the bread and if it isn’t used correctly the bread disappoints.
Ezekiel was a captive in Babylon, he and many others were taken from Judah and forced to live in that strange land around the year 597 BCE. The second captivity happened 10 years later, the people were heartbroken and afraid that they too would go the way of the lost tribes of Israel 150 years earlier in their exile. In ancient theological understanding, the people believed that the Babylonian deities had defeated the Most High God, the One who had promised steadfast love. All the symbols of their Faith were destroyed, the Holy City, the Temple, the line of David and the people…. where was God? The people talked about their bones being dry, this was their way of saying that in their innermost selves, deep down in their soul, they were hurting.
Ezekiel is given the vision of dry bones, an image the people would immediately understand. God told Ezekiel that the bones were useless without breath… the word used in Hebrew was ‘ruach’ which means breath, wind and spirit. God uses that word over and over again to tell the people that He will breathe His Spirit into the dry bones, into His beloved children, and they will live again! More than this, they will go home to Judah where they can sing the Lord’s song and celebrate their gift of life. But first, they must allow God to breathe His Spirit into them, to empower them, to give them heart and to enable them to live lives worthy of their calling.
So, how dry are your bones? Are you willing to allow God to breathe His Spirit into them — whatever that may look like?
Silence is one of the languages of God, please sit in silence and breathe in and out, slowly, intentionally and repeat the following phrase until your heartbeat slows down and you are focussing on God: “The Lord is here, His Spirit is in me.” Don’t ask for anything, don’t tell God anything — He already knows! Simply be silent.