Ezekiel 37 & Psalm 87-88

Ezekiel 37

    The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”

    So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

    Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”

    The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, take a stick and write on it, ‘For Judah, and the people of Israel associated with him’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him.’ And join them one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. And when your people say to you, ‘Will you not tell us what you mean by these?’ say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am about to take the stick of Joseph (that is in the hand of Ephraim) and the tribes of Israel associated with him. And I will join with it the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, that they may be one in my hand. When the sticks on which you write are in your hand before their eyes, then say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms. They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

    “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children's children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”

(Ezekiel 37 ESV)

Psalm 87

A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. A Song.

    On the holy mount stands the city he founded;
        the LORD loves the gates of Zion
        more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.
    Glorious things of you are spoken,
        O city of God. Selah
    Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon;
        behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Cush—
        “This one was born there,” they say.
    And of Zion it shall be said,
        “This one and that one were born in her”;
        for the Most High himself will establish her.
    The LORD records as he registers the peoples,
        “This one was born there.” Selah
    Singers and dancers alike say,
        “All my springs are in you.”

(Psalm 87 ESV)

Psalm 88

A Song. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. To the choirmaster: according to Mahalath Leannoth. A Maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.

    O LORD, God of my salvation,
        I cry out day and night before you.
    Let my prayer come before you;
        incline your ear to my cry!
    For my soul is full of troubles,
        and my life draws near to Sheol.
    I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
        I am a man who has no strength,
    like one set loose among the dead,
        like the slain that lie in the grave,
    like those whom you remember no more,
        for they are cut off from your hand.
    You have put me in the depths of the pit,
        in the regions dark and deep.
    Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
        and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah
    You have caused my companions to shun me;
        you have made me a horror to them.
    I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
        my eye grows dim through sorrow.
    Every day I call upon you, O LORD;
        I spread out my hands to you.
    Do you work wonders for the dead?
        Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah
    Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
        or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
    Are your wonders known in the darkness,
        or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
    But I, O LORD, cry to you;
        in the morning my prayer comes before you.
    O LORD, why do you cast my soul away?
        Why do you hide your face from me?
    Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
        I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.
    Your wrath has swept over me;
        your dreadful assaults destroy me.
    They surround me like a flood all day long;
        they close in on me together.
    You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
        my companions have become darkness.

(Psalm 88 ESV)

 The following is taken from D.A. Carson's For the Love of God series...


SINCE THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF the fall of Jerusalem, Ezekiel has been promising new leadership, a restoration to the land, and moral and spiritual transformation. But just as his earlier announcement of the fall of Jerusalem was met with considerable skepticism, so now his announcement of blessings to come meets with the same. Their nation is shattered, their cities destroyed, and many of their people are scattered abroad, living as exiles in foreign lands. It is hard to detect even a glimmer of hope. They cry, in effect, “Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off” (37:11). In Ezekiel 37, God provides a vision and an object lesson to engender and nurture that hope.

The first is the vision of the valley of dry bones (37:1-14). Ezekiel is shown these “very dry” bones and is asked, “Son of man, can these bones live?” (37:3). The bones represent the Israelites in exile. The northern tribes have been in exile for a century and a half. The exilic community in Babylon where Ezekiel is living has been there a decade. The bones are very dry indeed. First Ezekiel is told to prophesy to the bones. Miraculously, the bones come together and are covered with flesh and skin — but we have moved only from skeletons to corpses. Then Ezekiel is told to prophesy to the “breath”(rûah, which equally means “Spirit” and “wind”). Now the corpses come to life and stand on their feet — “a vast army” (37:10). In other words, although preaching of itself effects some changes, what is required is the sweeping power of the Spirit of God. Within the metaphorical world, this is nothing less than resurrection from the dead (37:12). The mean- ing of the vision, however, is that God will pour out his Spirit, and the exile will end (37:14).

The second part of the chapter is devoted to the object lesson of the two sticks (37:15-28). The first stick represents Judah; the second represents the northern tribes of Israel. Ezekiel stands for God. As he puts the two sticks together, so God declares that in the promised restoration there will no longer be two kingdoms, but one. “There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms” (37:22). Once again, the promise of inner transformation surfaces: “They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God” (37:23). Most important of all, the promised Messiah will lead them: “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shep- herd” (37:24).