Ezekiel 37:3-4 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!'”
There are several things about this vision the Lord gave Ezekiel that are very important. In the first place, this wasn’t something Ezekiel sought out for himself; he didn’t have an agenda. That helped him answer the Lord’s question very wisely: “You alone know.” We would be very prone to answer, “No way!” The second thing that strikes me is that God told Ezekiel to do something that seemed totally useless: speak to dry bones. Once again, we would be prone to turn away and refuse to do what seemed useless, but verses 7 and 10 say that Ezekiel did as the Lord told him. There too, Ezekiel was wise. If the Lord says do it, we had better do it, however ridiculous it might seem to our natural mind. This story is well known today, and the song made from it is used in a variety of situations, many of them humorous, so we know that everything didn’t happen at once, but had to go through stages. The Pentecostal/Charismatic movement has rightly picked up on the fact that this “vast army” was useless until it was filled with breath. Both Hebrew and Greek use the same words for “breath” and “spirit,” so the logical inference here is that God’s people are no better than dead without God’s Spirit in them. Many churches today pay lip service to that truth but then turn around and try to do things in their own strength. That’s about as effective as an army of dead bodies! We have to be clear both that God can do anything at all, and that we can do nothing without Him. (John 15:5)
I will confess that sometimes it feels like I’m preaching to dry bones! However, as this story makes very clear, that’s no reason to quit. Whether I see the fruit or not, I am called to faithfulness. My parents before me served in this land, seeing fruit but not as they desired to see it. I am not to insist on my own timetable over God’s, but rather keep listening to Him and doing as He says. That includes being willing to change both what I do and how I do it. After all, how I’ve done it to this point hasn’t exactly taken the nation by storm! I have just entered into a coaching arrangement with a younger missionary from Hong Kong. It’s not that he knows more about Japan than I do, but rather that he may be objective enough to see areas in which I am self-defeating. Frankness isn’t a Japanese strong point! I desire to hear the Lord more clearly and obey Him more accurately, and I commit myself to whatever that means.
Father, thank You for all that You are doing. Thank You for the coaching seminar I was able to attend this week. Help me be totally open to whatever You want to do in and through me, whatever changes that may involve. I see movement in so many areas right now that it’s hard to keep it all straight. Keep me from trying to be in control, but rather help me hear You, yield to You, and obey You fully, whatever my natural mind is saying, so that Your purposes may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!