Back from the Grave
from Ezekiel – A Nation on Life Support – Volume 2 by Dr. Mike Holloway
Chapter Fourteen from Ezekiel – A Nation on Life Support – Volume 2 by Dr. Mike Holloway
A news article from 2022 reported a strange occurrence in a prison in Spain in relation to a twenty-nine-year-old inmate who was declared dead by three doctors. The prisoner was found in his cell in 2018 totally unresponsive sitting in a chair. A doctor was summoned who checked for vital signs and declared him to be dead. Two forensic doctors were then dispatched; and after examining the body, they, too, declared he was dead. His body was placed in a body bag and sent to the prison hospital, so an autopsy could be performed. The body was prepared with markings placed on the chest where the incisions would be made. The autopsy was scheduled to be performed, and just before the autopsy was to begin, an attendant heard a noise coming out of the body bag. The noise he heard sounded like snoring. He unzipped the body bag, and lo and behold, the man who had been declared dead by three doctors was snoring! The patient was later determined to have been suffering from a condition called catalepsy.
Catalepsy is a condition that causes a person’s body to have the appearance of death, even to such a degree that rigor mortis can set in. The person falls into a trance-like condition in which his breathing is so shallow it is undetectable. The heart rate is so slow that it, too, cannot be felt, and he cannot feel any pain or sensation. While all appearances of death are present, the person is not dead; he is still alive! This is what happened to the mother of Robert E. Lee before he was born. His mother was declared dead and was placed in a casket. The funeral had taken place at her home; and before the burial, one of the servants heard a noise from inside the casket. The noise was Lee’s mother who was still alive! People in those days were so worried about being buried alive because these situations actually happened. When a sailor died on a ship, it was customary to have a burial at sea. One of the customs commonly practiced was that the body was placed in a bag sewn up the front from the feet to the head. When they sewed it closed up to the head, the last thing they would do was to run a giant hook through the person’s nose to make sure he was really dead and not just unconscious.
What does this condition called catalepsy have to do with what we find in this chapter? God was revealing that Israel had not just been taken captive, but was in fact dead. They did not simply look dead but had decomposed into nothing more than bones littering the ground. As only God could do, God promised to bring the nation of Israel back to life again, and in this chapter, He revealed exactly how it would be done.
There was … AN OFFICIAL DEATH WARRANT.
“The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, 2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.”Ezekiel 37:1-2
When word spread that gold had been discovered at Sutter’s Mill in California, thousands of pioneers began making their way across America in hopes of striking it rich and making a new life for themselves on the west coast. One group of pioneers had reached Salt Lake City and were looking for a guide who would take them through the mountains. They found one but as the journey began, some of the people became frustrated with their guide because he was too slow and too cautious. He would only travel as fast as the slowest wagon, so nobody would be left behind. He was determined to take the long way because he was familiar with it, and it was safe. Some of the pioneers had heard about a new route that could save them five hundred miles of traveling, so they decided to split off from the wagon train and simply head due west. The idea was they would eventually find a pass through the mountains, and as long as they kept going west, they would eventually run into the Pacific Ocean. As they headed west, they encountered desert. The further they went, the hotter it got. Some turned back and rejoined the wagon train while a few decided to press on, and the situation only got worse and worse. Wagons began to break down; horses began to die; and they were forced to simply stop and send two men ahead to try to find water and help. Amazingly, only one person died, and they were able to make it across the place where they were convinced they would die. That event is how the desert got its name of Death Valley. It is officially the hottest place on earth with a high temperature record of one hundred thirty-four degrees.
As this chapter begins, God had supernaturally transported Ezekiel from Babylon to God’s own death valley, a place where millions of bones were found lying on the ground for miles around. Ezekiel was then taken on a tour of this valley where he witnessed the bones of a deceased nation. This valley was not a place where a massacre had happened but rather the end of a journey of a wayward and rebellious nation, the nation of Israel. The ten northern tribes had already been conquered and taken captive years earlier by the Assyrians. Jerusalem and Judah, the southern kingdoms, had been nearly wiped out by Nebuchadnezzar’s army. The temple had been destroyed; the gates of the city burned; the few surviving people were taken captive; and Israel was dead. Ezekiel was being shown the place where their bones had been deposited as a symbol of their rebellion against God.
One of the most famous signs that Jews around the world are familiar with was the one over the entrance gate of Auschwitz that read, “Work shall make you free.” While it sounded hopeful to those who were new arrivals, it was actually a well-phrased death sentence, because its true meaning was they would be worked to death, and they were. If there could ever have been a sign placed at the entrance to this valley full of bones, the most probable sign would be, “The wages of sin is death.” The Jews of Ezekiel’s day proved that New Testament verse to be true.
There was … A RIDICULOUS COMMAND.
“And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. 4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.”Ezekiel 37:3-4
Robert Moffat was one of the first missionaries to establish a work in South Africa, and he labored there for many years translating the Bible into an African dialect. On a return trip to Scotland, he was trying to present his work to various churches and was scheduled to preach in one particular church; but when he arrived, he was surprised and discouraged. His goal was to encourage young men to volunteer for missions work and to hopefully come to South Africa. However, when he arrived at this particular church, he learned he was only speaking to a women’s society with no men present. The only sermon he had was geared toward men to surrender to missions. He preached his sermon, left the church, and felt as if he had wasted his time. Years later, he learned his sermon was not wasted on those ladies. A teenage boy had been up in the organ loft pumping the bellows for the organ to be played, and he sat there and listened to the sermon without ever having been seen by Moffat. The boy’s name was David Livingstone, and he not only became a missionary who went to Africa, but he also ended up marrying Robert Moffat’s daughter! The point is when it comes to preaching, we have no idea what God might choose to do with it.
Charles Spurgeon once preached a sermon he felt was a total disaster. In modern terminology, he laid an egg. He felt so badly about it that he immediately went to work on his next sermon and made sure it was one of his best. After he preached the second message, he decided to track the comments he got from it to determine how helpful it had been to his people. The comments began pouring in, but they were not what he had expected. The one sermon mentioned over and over as being helpful and useful was not the one he thought was the greatest but the one he thought was the worst!
Perhaps for this reason, God refers to preaching as foolishness. It makes no sense in man’s eyes, yet it is a tool of God’s creation that He loves to use in strange and peculiar ways. In Ezekiel’s case, the prophet was told to preach to the valley of bones. God wanted these bones to hear what His preacher had to say because they were about to experience what only God could do. God was going to bring them all back to life!
There was … A PLAN FOR RAISING THE DEAD.
“Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.”Ezekiel 37:5-6
This passage reveals an important detail about how God operates and works in the lives of His people as well as in the world. For most of us, it is frustrating at best, yet it is God’s typical way of doing things. God is not in a hurry. He had brought Ezekiel on this supernatural journey from captivity to the burial spot where the dry bones of a nation had been deposited. He commanded Ezekiel to preach to them for the sole purpose of bringing them back to life. Then a process began. When the Lord returns to rapture His church out of this world, the Bible teaches that it will take place in the twinkling of an eye. The rapture is appealing to us because it will be instantaneous, and we will instantly have a glorified body! However, when it comes to bringing Israel back to life again, it will not happen in the twinkling of an eye but will rather be a very long, slow, and painful process. In verse six, the bones were first covered with muscle tissue then skin. What God was describing was not just about Israel but about Himself. God is thorough, methodical, and deliberate; and He is never in a hurry. Here is His process from start to finish.
Step #1 – There must be … Death.
“And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.”Ezekiel 37:3
The reason for the question was to verify the fact that Israel was, in fact, dead. The northern kingdom had already been taken into captivity by the Assyrians, and they were so completely scattered that they are still referred to as the Lost Tribes of Israel! The southern kingdom was Judah and Jerusalem, and the entire books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel were written as their obituary because once Jerusalem fell, Israel was dead to the world. Because this is a process, their death was slow and painful caused by their rebellion and idolatry.
Step #2 – There will be … a walking corpse.
“So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. 8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.”Ezekiel 37:7-8
As Ezekiel preached to these bones, they started moving toward their connecting bones making a great noise as the bones of bygone generations moved across the desert floor to create hundreds of thousands of skeletons! This action was followed by muscle tissue being connected by ligaments and tendons and then flesh appearing to cover it all. Their bodies had been reconstituted. They were complete and whole, but now the ground was littered with dead, lifeless bodies.
This verse is describing what took place in 1948, for in that year, Israel became a recognized nation once again. They had been a nation that existed in antiquity but had long since disappeared except in history books. They were conquered, taken captive, and then absorbed into various countries around the world. The tiny remnant of Jews that returned to Jerusalem under Ezra and Nehemiah existed as a people but were under the control of other nations like the Romans of Christ’s day. In 1948, the bones began making noise as they began moving together to form skeletons and to develop muscle tissue. Finally, the nation of Israel was covered with skin and was accepted by the nations of the world as being an independent, autonomous, sovereign nation. Israel was back from the grave!
This event was viewed by many Jews and Christians as a miracle. What is this modern nation of Israel like? They are spiritually as blind as a bat with sixty-five percent of the Jews claiming to be non-religious or atheists. Israel is also ranked as having some of the stiffest regulations against free religion. They are spiritually walking corpses. They have the appearance of life but are spiritually dead.
Step #3 – Israel will be … brought back to life again.
“Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.”Ezekiel 37:9-10
These verses have now stepped into the future as God was describing what will one day take place after the Tribulation and at the beginning of the Millennium. Again, what God is describing is a process. First came the prophecy given by the prophet Joel.
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:”Joel 2:28
This verse means a change would happen in relation to God’s people and the Holy Spirit. Instead of a select few having God’s power on their lives, like Samson and Elijah, all saved people would enjoy the Holy Spirit’s power. Next, the beginning of the working of the Holy Spirit would take place.
“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: 15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:”Acts 2:14-18
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit changed His relationship with believers, and instead of coming upon a select few godly people, He began to indwell EVERY born-again person. This event was just the beginning of the Spirit being poured out upon all flesh as promised by Joel. The next phase will take place when the Holy Spirit falls upon the Jews who are alive at the end of the Tribulation, and then they will look up and behold Whom they have pierced and finally recognize Christ as their Messiah! Then they, as a nation, will come alive again.
Step #4 – Israel will be … reunited in her land.
“Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. 12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.”Ezekiel 37:11-14
From the very beginning, starting with Abraham, God has always linked His people with the land He would give them. He promised Abraham the land he walked on would be given to his future generations. This property was known as the land of Canaan, and Israel will one day possess it all.
Step #5 – Israel will be … reunited with her Jewish brethren.
“The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, 16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: 17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.”Ezekiel 37:15-17
In order to see what is taking place here, we can take a closer look at verse eleven.
“Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: … ”Ezekiel 37:11a
God was promising that Israel would no longer exist as the divided kingdom that took place as a punishment of what Solomon had done but would be reunited. The stick labeled for Joseph is referring to the northern kingdom and the stick labeled for Judah is the southern kingdom. God was promising to unite them for all eternity.
Step #6 – Israel will be … reunited with her king.
“And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: 23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. 24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.”Ezekiel 37:22-24
Just as God brought the nation of Israel back from the grave, so He will also bring King David back from the grave to reign over the restored Israel with Christ ruling over the entire world.
Step #7 – Israel will be … reunited with her Husband.
“Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”Ezekiel 37:26-27
Though God had been forced to divorce Israel as His wife because of her spiritual fornication, just as Gomer was brought back home and became Hosea’s loving and faithful wife, so too, God will be able to have His wife back. She is the same one He first fell in love with though she is now able to love Him back as never before.
If you enjoyed this chapter, Ezekiel – A Nation on Life Support – Volume 2 will be releasing soon!
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