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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Ezekiel

 

(The objective of these ‘Frameworks' is to provide an easy-to-read layout of the text in order then to use these individual verses for verse-by-verse study or meditation. To focus each verse we have also added notes in italic, a description of what is happening as well as the usual subheadings)

 

FRAMEWORKS: Ezekiel 37: A Vision (Dry Bones) & a Prophecy (Two Sticks)

 

Part 1: v.1-14: The Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones

v.1-3 A Vision & a Question

v.4-6 Instruction Number One

v.7,8 Obedience Number One

v.9 Instruction Number Two

v.10 Obedience Number Two

v.11 Interpretation

v.12-14 Instruction Number Three

Part 2: v.15-28: Two Sticks - One Nation Under One King

v.15-18 Instruction Number One – an Act to be performed

v.19-28 Instruction Number Two – a Word to be Spoken

 

[Preliminary Comments: This chapter comprises two prophetic words that flow in harmony as one message – God intends to bring new life to the dead ‘Israel' and whereas there was division in the past, in the future He will bring all His people together as one, to be seen by the whole world.]

 

 

Part 1: v.1-14: The Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones

 

v.1-3 A Vision & a Question

 

v.1 The hand of the LORD was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 

v.2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 

v.3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” 

 

[Notes: The fact that the Spirit is mentioned suggests this is a vision. Ezekiel is shown in this vision a valley with lots of dry bones. The Lord asks him can these bones live and he wisely answers that only God knows His intentions.]

 

 

v.4-6 Instruction Number One

 

v.4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 

v.5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 

v.6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'” 

 

[Notes: The vision continues as Ezekiel being told to prophesy – speak the will of God over these bones – life to be restored to them.]

 

 

v.7,8 Obedience Number One

 

v.7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 

v.8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. 

 

[Notes: Ezekiel, in the vision, does as he is told and the bones come together but are still lifeless.]

 

 

v.9 Instruction Number Two

 

v.9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.'” 

 

[Notes: So he is told to prophesy (command God's will) a second time – breath so that the united bones may truly live.]

 

 

v.10 Obedience Number Two

 

v.10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army. 

 

[Notes: This he does and he sees the skin-clothed skeletons come to life and they appear as a great army.]

 

 

v.11 Interpretation

 

v.11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.' 

 

[Notes: The interpretation is then given: these bones are a picture of the people of Israel who have given up all hope of life. The fact that Ezekiel prophesies in the early stages of the Exile suggests that the people who have gone into exile see no future for their nation.]

 

 

v.12-14 Instruction Number Three

 

v.12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 

v.13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 

v.14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.'”

 

[Notes: The third instruction follows to prophesy, and in one sense, Ezekiel bringing this vision to his people is him obeying this part. Tell Israel there is a hope; God will restore them and bring them back to the Land. End of Message!]

 

 

Part 2: v.15-28: Two Sticks - One Nation Under One King

 

v.15-18 Instruction Number One – an Act to be performed

 

v.15 The word of the LORD came to me: 

v.16 “Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, ‘Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.' Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, ‘Belonging to Joseph (that is, to Ephraim) and all the Israelites associated with him.' 

v.17 Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand. 

v.18 “When your people ask you, ‘Won't you tell us what you mean by this?' 

 

[Notes: But then there is a follow-up message that comes not as a word in a vision but as a word that is to accompany a prophetic act. Since the reign of Solomon the nation had been divided between ‘Judah' (the southern kingdom) and ‘Israel' (the northern kingdom). The two sticks are to represent the two kingdoms that are now to be rejoined.]

 

 

v.19-28 Instruction Number Two – a Word to be Spoken

 

v.19 Explain God will make the two into one

v.19 say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim's hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah's stick. I will make them into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.' 

 

v.20 Keep the sticks before you so they see them

v.20 Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on 

 

v.21 The Lord will bring them back to their Land from around the world

v.21 and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. 

 

v.22 The two nations (after Solomon) will only be one together in the future

v.22 I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. 

 

v.23 They will be free from the idolatry that destroyed them

v.23 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. 

 

v.24 My ‘David' will be their one king

v.24 “‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. 

 

v.25 They will be back in the Land I gave them from the beginning

v.25 They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children's children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. 

 

v.26 There will be peace between them and God

v.26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. 

 

v.27 God will dwell with them, their One True God

v.27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 

 

v.28 Thus the world will understand I am with them, they are mine

v.28 Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.'”

 

[Notes: The explanation demanded in v.18 is very simple and straight forward. God will unite the two parts of the original kingdom, bringing back their people from all round the world to form this one again. They will be a purified people who will no longer worship idols that had blighted their life up to the Exile. They will together have one ruler and will dwell in the one ‘Promised Land' and there will be a new relationship of peace between them and God with Him dwelling with them again.

 

Interpreters have suggested the meaning of this chapter is in respect of

•  their return from the Exile, or
•  a new bigger fulfilment that includes the worldwide church of Jew & Gentile, a kingdom inaugurated by and ruled by Jesus Christ, or
•  an even bigger fulfilment when Jew and Christian are seen as one at the End Time, or
•  it applies to all three.]

Design Criteria

1. Divided by main sub-headings which are also listed at the top.

2. Because prophecy is the most difficult of all the different types of writing in the Bible to absorb, we have added a belt-and-braces appproach of mini-incorporated-headings, and main subheadings, as well as our own summaries in the 'Notes'.