The Bible has warned us over and over again
regarding the condition of the church in general in the last days.
It is evident that the big churches are not only dying but in some
cases they are dead. When a leading clergyman can get up and dare to
make the statement that God is dead, he is doing no more than to
tell the world that the church he represents is dead. For without
God there is only the smell of death left.
The call of Ezekiel
There is no better illustration of this situation
than is found in the Book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel had some rather
remarkable visions that God gave him, but the one found in
Ezekiel 37 must have been the most impressive of them all.
Ezekiel 37:1,2 says, "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. 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."
You see, Israel thought that they were alright but they were wrong,
for in reality they were dead. Their condition was like dry bones.
What they needed was a resurrection. It was at this time that God
called Ezekiel the priest. I guess when the LORD called Ezekiel he
must have felt greatly honoured to be chosen above all others for a
particular task. It is a great honour to be called of God. And I
guess when God called Ezekiel he must have reasoned "where will
the LORD send me? To what great city am I to bear witness? To what
influential people will the LORD send me?"
I am sure that he must have thought about this
call and as he did so his expectations would have run high. Why he
may even have thought about this call and as he did so his
expectations would have run high. Why, he may even have reasoned
average tasks for the average man but big tasks for the big men.
Valley of dry bones
As he went along carried by the Spirit of the LORD
he passed those pleasant towns dotted here and there over the land,
pleasant towns with comfortable houses, lovely gardens. The soft
green pastures with cattle grazing contentedly, vineyards with those
luscious grapes. But instead of being deposited in one of those
pleasant little towns, to his surprise and horror the LORD set him
down upon a valley of dry bones.
There are some people who say that this place did
not really exist. But I assure you it was very real to Ezekiel. This
was a place of stench and unpleasantness. I can hear him saying
"what are we doing here, this is no place for a preacher. It would
be more fitting for funeral directors, or grave diggers. Or better
still a big bulldozer."
Then the LORD said to Ezekiel, this is your parish. This is where
you are to do your preaching. What a shock it must have been to
Ezekiel. There is no doubt it was an impossible situation. I think
that Ezekiel would have another shock if he were alive today and the
Spirit carried him to one of the great cathedrals and told him to
verse 3, "And he said unto me, Son
of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O LORD God, thou
knowest." In this third verse the LORD asks "Son of man can
these bones live?" You will notice that Ezekiel avoided a
direct answer to this question. He did not say no, nor did he say
yes. Possibly he merely answered by saying "now LORD, that is a
very good question. You answer it." It mentions in
"And caused me to pass by them round about." The LORD took him
for a walk to have a look around and after walking up and down and
around he came to the conclusion that there were many many bones and
they were very dry.
Ezekiel commissioned to preach to
Verse 4 says, "Again he said unto me, Prophesy
upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word
of the LORD." You can well imagine Ezekiel's surprise and
amazement when the LORD tells him to preach to these dry bones.
"Why LORD, that is impossible, bones do not have ears. It is hard
enough to preach to those who are living let alone those who cannot
I can understand Ezekiel's feelings, how many
times I have preached to the trees. And I want to tell you that you
lay preachers would do a lot better if you tried your sermon out on
the trees. You will find the trees very sympathetic, they make good
listeners. But Ezekiel did not even have the opportunity of
preaching to trees. At least they are living things. His commission
was to preach to bones, a whole valley of them and the LORD told him
to put everything he had into it.
Verses 5,6 say, "Thus saith the Lord God unto
these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye
shall live. 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."
Verse 7 says,
"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."
A man will never make a mistake if he preaches as
the LORD has commanded. The church would never languish and die
spiritually if it is fed with the Word of God. It only becomes empty
and barren when the pulpit is used to express man's thoughts about
God rather than God's revelation to man.
Negro spiritual about bones coming
Verse 7 says,
"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." Bone to bone: the negroes have
a spiritual which vividly illustrates this statement. In this song
they describe how the bones came together. First the head bone, then
the collar bone, the arm bones, the chest bones, the leg bones, and
finally the foot bones. It make good listening but I am not sure of
the application. As you read this story, it seems that Ezekiel did
not have the courage to look at what he was preaching to. This must
have been the hardest preaching situation that any preacher ever
It is difficult enough at a funeral, that is
always a sad occasion, but just imagine preaching to dry bones. The
sad thing is this was the condition of Israel. Spiritually they were
not only dead but reduced to very dry bones. I trust that we will
never be in such a terrible spiritual condition to be likened to dry
Bones covered with flesh
Bone to bone: now instead of a valley of dry
bones, we have bones covered with flesh. Actually I am not so sure
that this situation is an improvement. Certainly the bones are
covered with flesh but there is no life in them. In verse 8 it says,
"but there was no breath in them." God's people are still in
a very serious condition, much like the statement found in
Revelation 3:1, "I know thy works, that thou hast a name that
thou livest and art dead."
Not so long ago I attended a function put on by
one of the large Protestant groups, and as I looked around, try as
hard as I could, I looked in vain for one that looked like a real
Christian. Billows of tobacco smoke seemed to be drifting from
everywhere. The face looked as hard as flint. I am sure if Jesus had
suddenly appeared in their midst, He would hardly have claimed them
as His own. They claim to be Christians, but are deal spiritually.
Verse 9 says, "Then said he unto me, Prophesy
unto the wind (spirit) prophesy son of man and say to the wind, Thus
saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breath
upon these slain that they may live." What an experience!
Ezekiel first of all preached to the dry bones, then to flesh
covered bones, and now God tells him to preach again and these flesh
covered bones will live. It is only as the Word of God is preached,
backed by the Holy Spirit, that life s imparted to the hearers.
Jesus says, "I came that I might give them life
eternal." You notice from death to life.
verse 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."
Ezekiel is now convinced that the LORD knew best
after all. He had gone down into a very great valley of dry bones
and preached to a stone wall you might say. I want you to just think
for a moment. Can't you visualize the scene? I can. Heaps of
whitened bones, grinning skulls that leered at Ezekiel as he spoke
the Word of the Lord. Now what does all this mean to Ezekiel?
Perhaps it would be better to direct the question right at
ourselves. What does this mean to us living down at the end of time?
Picture of revival and action
Well let us read
Ezekiel 37:11-14, "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. 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. 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. 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."
Here is the explanation. Israel shall know that I
am the LORD. This is a mighty picture of revival and action. All of
these things have been written for our admonition, we who are living
in these last days. God wants to revive a drowsy, lukewarm, sleeping
In T(estomies) Vol. 1 260 we read, "God's
people must take warning and discern the signs of the times. The
signs of earth's history are fast closing. We are amid the perils of
the last days. Greater perils are before us, and yet we are not
awake. This lack of activity and earnestness in the cause of God is
dreadful. This death stupor is from Satan..."
Now reading from the next paragraph, "I was
shown God's people waiting for some change to take place, a
compelling power to take hold of them. But they will be
disappointed, for they are wrong. They must take hold of the work
themselves, and earnestly cry to God for a true knowledge of
themselves. The scenes which are passing before us are of sufficient
magnitude to cause us to arouse and urge the truth home to the
hearts of all who will listen. The harvest of the earth is nearly
The most urgent need of God's people today is a
revival of genuine godliness. These last days are difficult to the
Christian. Increasing worldliness among the churches has sapped
their spirituality as the servant of the LORD has said "This
death stupor is from Satan...", and naturally this is bound to
have some effect on God's people.
God calls us to His service
The second lesson that we can gain from this
experience, God calls us to His service just as He called Ezekiel.
We are God's men and God's women called to His service. We must do
just what God tells us to do. It may not be a pleasant task, but how
rewarding in Ezekiel's experience.
In one place where I was sent to, there were three
preaching situations. In an effort to meet the needs of the people,
I asked one of the laymen to go and preach to one of these three
places, a small company of believers. He raised a number of
objections why he couldn't go but finally he went. Later on he came
to me and said, "never ask me to go to preach to such a small
company again." I only wish I had thought of Ezekiel at the
time. What would this man have done if he had been called to preach
to dry bones? At least he was sent to the living, folk that could
hear and understand what he had to say.
Like all prophecies, this one has a double
application. We will read these verses again.
Ezekiel 37:13,14 says,
"And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your
graves O my people, and brought you out of your graves. 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."
A Resurrection needed
Do we see signs of death in the church? Then a
resurrection is badly needed. As the Spirit comes, He breathes life
into the church. This text is talking of two things. A resurrection
of the church, so that it will become a living pulsating church, and
the great resurrection that will take place when Jesus comes to
claim his own. Never have the opportunities been greater for God's
remnant church than now.
The very deadness of the big churches is causing
the honest in heart to turn from them, seeking This saith the LORD.
It is happening in many parts of the world right now and it will
happen here. For years and years we have not had any word of our
work in Romania. We just did not know what was going on in that
country, that is as far as our message was going. But recently news
has come out that our work has gone ahead tremendously in that land.
The same in South America. Never before have there been such
opportunities. There is a stirring that will result in the shaking
off of the fetters of ignorance. God is preparing the way for the
Loud Cry. The greatest opportunities are still just ahead of us.
What is needed is a revitalised, resurrected church. God is waiting
to do it. May revival and action be seen in our ranks so that God
may be able to use us in the finishing of the task.