The valley of dry bones
37:1God gave Ezekiel this picture in his mind about the future of Israel.
1 The Lord showed me a picture in my mind. His Spirit took me and put me in the middle of a dry valley. It was full of bones. 2 He made me walk up and down among them. There, on the ground in the valley, I saw many very dry bones.
3 ‘Son of man,’ he asked me. ‘Can these dry bones become alive?’ ‘Lord God,’ I said. ‘Only you know the answer.’
4 ‘Prophesy to these bones,’ he said. ‘Say to them, “Dry bones, listen to the Lord's word.” 5 This is what the Lord God says to these dry bones. “I will make you become alive. 6 I will make your bones join together and I will put meat on your bones. I will cover you with skin. I will blow air into your bodies. You will become alive. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” ’
7 So I prophesied as he had said. While I did this, I heard noises. The bones hit each other when they came together. 8 Then I looked. And I saw meat and skin cover the bones. But the bodies were not alive. They did not move or take in air.
9 Then the Lord spoke to me. ‘Prophesy to the air,’ he said. ‘Say that the four winds must come. And they must blow air into these dead bodies. Then they can become alive.’ 10 So I prophesied and air blew into them. They became alive and they stood on their feet. They were a great army. 11 Then the Lord said, ‘Son of man, these bones are all Israel's people. They say, “Our bones are dry and we cannot hope for anything. We are lost.” 12 So prophesy and say to them, “This is what the Lord God says: ‘My people, I am going to open the places where men bury your bodies. I will take you out of them and I will bring you back to the country called Israel. 13 I will open the places where they buried you. I will bring you out. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will become alive. And you will stay in your own country. Then you will know that I, the Lord have spoken. You will know that I have done this,’ says the Lord.” ’
37:9The Hebrew word for the air is the same word as for his Spirit. So when the Lord puts air into a man he is also putting his Spirit into that man.
37:14Israel's people believe that they cannot hope for anything. God gives Ezekiel a picture of dry human bones. The bones are like Israel's life as slaves in foreign countries. They had been there for more than 10 years. So the bones are very dry! But the Lord is showing them that he will bring them back to their own country. He wants them to hope that he will save them. He wants them to believe the things that he tells them.
15 The Lord spoke to me. 16 ‘Son of man,’ he said. ‘Take a wooden stick and write on it. Write, “This stick belongs to Judah and all the people with him.” Then take another stick and write on it, “Ephraim's stick belongs to Joseph and all Israel's people that are with him.” 17 Make the two sticks join together to become one stick in your hand. 18 Your people, Israel's people, will ask you why you did this. They will ask, “Please tell us what this means.” 19 Say to them, “This is what the Lord God says: ‘Joseph's stick is the land of Ephraim and all the Israelite tribes who are with him. I will cause it to join Judah's stick and I will make them one stick in my hand.’ ”
37:16Ephraim was a name that people used for the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
20 Hold the sticks with words on them in front of their eyes.
21 Say to them “This is what the Lord God says: ‘I will take Israel's people out from the nations where they have gone. I will fetch them back from all the places round them. I will bring them into their own country. 22 I will make them become one nation. They will be in the country. They will live on Israel's mountains. They will have one king over them all. They will never become two nations or two kingdoms again. 23 They will no longer worship idols and make themselves not clean. They will no longer do those things that make me angry. I will save them from all the wrong things that they did. I will make them clean. They will be my people and I will be their God.
24 My servant David will be their king and he will be their shepherd. They will all have one ruler. And they will obey all my rules. 25 They will live in the country that I gave to my servant Jacob and his sons. It is the country where your fathers lived. My people and their children and grandchildren will live there. They will live there until the end of time. And David my servant will always be their king. 26 I will make a promise with them to give them peace. It is a promise that will never change. They will remain there and I will keep them safe. Their numbers will grow greater. 27 I will put my temple there and it will always remain there. I will live among them. I will be their God and they will be my people. 28 I have put my temple among them. It will remain until the end of time. Then the nations will know that I, the Lord make Israel holy.’ ” ’