Showing posts with label defeat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label defeat. Show all posts

16 November 2011

Dry bones in the valley

Part 2 of a series - 'The valley of dry bones'
< Ezekiel in exile | Index | Taking a good look >

This time we're going to take a look at the first verse of Ezekiel 37, the start of the section on the valley of dry bones. Let's see what Father will show us in this verse.

Death Valley in the USA'Yahweh's hand was on me and he brought me out by the Spirit of Yahweh and set me in the middle of a valley. It was full of bones.' (Ezekiel 37:1)

We can't tell whether Ezekiel visited a real valley or whether the entire section from verse one to verse fourteen is a vision. Perhaps it's most likely to have been a vision. But it doesn't really matter, it's far from being the most important thing.

'Yahweh's hand was on me...' - That's what Ezekiel says. And this is always his heart toward us; unless his hand is on us we cannot move except by our own efforts. This is fundamental to everything the Almighty does. He speaks, he moves, he demonstrates, he heals, he forgives - and in all these ways he touches us.

Have you noticed how often Jesus touched people? He touched their eyes and mouths and ears when he healed. He touched what was ritually unclean - a leper, a dead girl. The most intimate thing we can do is to touch someone. Touch brings us closer than words ever can. What do we do when a child is hurt, or afraid, or anxious? We pick them up or hug them or kiss them better. We need to touch and be touched. So Yahweh's hand was on Ezekiel.

And notice that this is the first thing that happens, before Ezekiel sees the bones or even goes to the valley, Yahweh's hand is on him. This is the touch that says, 'I am going to use you'. The Almighty lays hold of us because we are his instruments and he plans to use us in some way.

Have you felt his hand on you in your life? I hope so! But if not, pray that he will touch you and use you in whatever way he chooses. If he knows you are truly willing he will use you. That's what he longs to do with all his people. He has chosen to use us to do his work in this world today. Isn't that awesome?

'...and he brought me out by the Spirit of Yahweh...' - He brings us out and he does it by his own Spirit. Out from what? Out from the place where we currently are! See how he is one with himself in doing this? It's explicit in the Hebrew, the name is used twice. Yahweh uses the Spirit of Yahweh.

Sometimes we get stuck in a place. I don't mean a physical place, I mean a place in our lives that we are unable or unwilling to move on from. Sometimes we are simply waiting for direction. It might be something we're doing or a thought pattern we return to or just that he has finished using us in one situation and now wants us in a different one. Whether we are stuck or not - he brings us out, he draws us on, he sends his own Spirit to lead us into the next thing, the next place. For an example read about Roy Godwin. The story is unfolding - if you want to go faster you can buy his book.

And notice this, if Ezekiel had not moved he would not have come to the valley. We have a propensity to cling to what we know and to keep doing what is already familiar. But we need to be ready to allow the Spirit to move us at any time so that we can receive something new, Father's next thing for you, for me.

'...and set me in the middle of a valley.' - And so Yahweh sets Ezekiel in the valley. Now a valley is a low point and must be surrounded by higher ground. Ezekiel is placed 'in the middle' of this valley, right at the lowest point. He is as far from the surrounding hills and mountains as it is possible to be.

We know this feeling don't we? Life is hard and promising to get harder yet. There are low points in our lives and there are also low points in the life of the church. This valley is a place of defeat, a place of no hope or joy or victory. It's assuredly not a 'mountain-top experience'. We've all been there. Ezekiel was aware of the state of Israel in captivity under Babylon. But Yahweh's Spirit brought him here so there must surely be a reason for it. Does it sometimes seem as if church is in a valley? A slough of despond?

'It was full of bones.' - What do bones signify to you? Might they be the remains of what was once alive? More on this next time.

< Ezekiel in exile | Index | Taking a good look >

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