Can These Dry Bones Live Again?

Can These Dry Bones Live Again?

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail 

blond man with goatee smiling at camera with blazer on
Dale Pollard

Six hundred years before Christ would make His providential appearance, a righteous man finds himself in captivity. While exiled, Ezekiel was able to witness the spirit of God in a very intimate way (Ezekiel 1). Even so, he was still living under the thumb of the Babylonians like every other Israelite with him. While under these unideal circumstances though, he is privileged to see awe inspiring visions from God. Have you ever paid attention to the eerie sensations described throughout this book? In Ezekiel 1:4, the prophet feels a great and stormy wind on the bank of the river Chebar. The wind brings with it a massive cloud with fire flashing around it and a substance like glowing metal in the center of it. The wings of the creatures he saw (verse 24) made sounds like that of roaring waters. The voice of the Almighty was like the sound of a great army camp. What sights he was able to see! This great connection to God didn’t take away his pain or sorrow, though.

Chapter 19 is one long lament as Ezekiel cries over his hard-hearted Israelite brothers. Why won’t they listen to him? Even after Ezekiel performs some radical visual illustrations like eating his bread over dung and laying on his side for an entire year, they won’t respond to the “invitation.” How frustrating is that, preachers? God never abandons His faithful servant but His confused prophet is still left to wonder what God is going to do about the mess which makes up his reality. A familiar feeling for many faithful Christians today.  

Never underestimate the hand of the Almighty. This truthful statement can be pulled from Ezekiel 37, when the prophet is taken up and then placed in the middle of a dark valley. Ezekiel is surrounded on all sides by heaps of dry human bones and he’s probably wondering why in the world God has taken him to such a place. The text answers the question by asking a question. God speaks to Ezekiel and says, “Can these dry bones live again?” What an odd thing to ask. However, Ezekiel responds, “Only you know, oh Lord.”

It’s always when we’re deep in the valleys of life that we’re forced to answer the difficult questions about God’s abilities. When we’re surrounded by darkness, the question we have to ask is, “Does God have the power to see me through this?” If you remember, Ezekiel has become frustrated with the fact that Israel just won’t listen to him or Him. He’s lost hope in their ability to change— they’re just too far gone. However, God demonstrates to His prophet in a dramatic way that NOTHING is impossible for Him. 

He doesn’t bring the bones to life in the blink of an eye, but we know He could have. Instead, He allows Ezekiel to hear those bones rattle and to hear the sounds of fibers and flesh sticking together. He wanted to leave an impression on Ezekiel to demonstrate the might of the Almighty. Ezekiel had no idea how those bones came to life, but he knew one thing for certain. God did it. You may not understand why God has allowed you to enter your valley, but you can be certain that He has the power to see you through. You are standing on your two feet because God has given you the strength to do so. God has promised His faithful servants a heavenly light at the end of our tunnels and whatever God says— He will always accomplish (Ezekiel 37:14). 

 The Doom of Jerusalem 

 The Doom of Jerusalem 

Tuesday Column: Dale Mail

image

Dale Pollard

Have you ever been to a “show and tell”? Maybe it was in school and the teacher asked you to get up in front of the class and show a particular object and explain and talk a little bit about it. I remember as a child dragging my giant yellow dump truck to class and showing everyone how the scoop on the back worked. I was very proud of it and after the class I sat on the truck and rode it down the hill in the parking lot. 

Jeremiah’s “show and tell” was not nearly as lighthearted. Instead of bringing a toy truck to show the people, he brought a sword and began to shave his face with it. The hair that he shaved off was what has been left alive by the people. The point of him dividing it into thirds was to make a point. That one third are the ones that survived the siege. Then the few that survive will be taken off but taken care of by God. In Zechariah 13 we find out that the fire of destruction took care of the first third. This wasn’t a fire that was meant to refine them. 

When we look at accounts like these it should make us think. Why was that account there? It’s definitely for our learning, but what is it that we need to take away? I believe at least two lessons can be learned from this. The first is that God will keep His word. If God says that He is going to punish the wicked for their wickedness, then He will most definitely do so. The second lesson to be learned is that in all of this, we can clearly see God’s love. Did God have to take care of the remnant? We know from previous scripture that God wanted to destroy them all at one point and start over. God still cares for His people and He still saw them through their trials, despite what they had done to Him. As His children today we need to realize that even though God may not necessarily strike us down on the spot for rejecting Him, He still takes it just as seriously. God still feels the same about selfishness and a self-serving lifestyle. It’s an ongoing battle to put away those human desires that pull us away from God but it’s a supernatural force that allows us to remain close to Him. 

Mercy

Mercy

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

1C7A60F4-5581-47D0-BD3D-C752D2F0A072

Gary Pollard

On at least two different occasions, Jesus said, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’” (Matthew 9.13; Matthew 12.7). It’s quoted from Hosea 6.6, but in multiple other passages God tells us that He prefers obedience over going through the motions of worship (Isaiah 1.11ff; Amos 5.21; Micah 6; Mark 7). 


This is NOT saying that worship is less important than obedience, since obedience causes us to worship. It does show God’s attitude toward those who claim to follow Him, but whose actions say otherwise. 
Listen to the force behind His words in Amos 5.21, “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.” Israel had adopted some religious and social misconduct. 


Do our actions cause God to wince at our worship? Israel was God’s chosen nation, but when they neglected to show mercy, justice, compassion, or faithfulness, God rejected their worship and sent them into captivity. 
So what kind of worship does God love? Obedience, mercy, pursuing good, showing compassion to those less powerful, integrity, justice, and being morally pure (Amos 5.11ff).