Lessons for April 6th, 2014 – Ezekiel 37.1-14; Romans 8.6-11 & John 11.1-45
The Valley of Dry Bones; Life in the Spirit; Lazarus: Death and Resurrection
- Israel/Judah the Southern kingdom was in exile and in the 30th year [Ezekiel’s first *prophecy was in the year 593 *BCE and he continued to *prophesy for about 20 years. Ezekiel dates his last message as in the year 571 *BCE], the 5thday of the 4th month at Chebar canal in the land of the Chaldeans (Babylon).
- This was the place and context of Ekekiel’s prophecy. So when he saw the Valley of Dry Bones, we must firstly see it as referring to the whole House of Israel and God’s promises of her physical restoration to the Land of Israel and also the people’s spiritual restoration to their God. Whatever other interpretations preachers and teacher may want to bring to the text – allegorical and metaphorical interpretation must always remember what its original context is.
- In the Christian liturgical year in seasons like Advent and Lent there is always a definite theme and progression like a well warn path. In Lent there is a build up to Easter following the theme of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, and his triumph over death.
- So not only is Israel’s restoration a type (symbol) of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The last enemy death is conquered.
- Lazarus’ sister Martha in John 11.23-24 gives testimony to the 1st century Jewish belief in the resurrection of the dead: Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
- Paul in Romans 8:6-11 speaks about life in the Spirit overcoming a purely carnal/fleshly life that is hostile towards God, to a life enthused by God that is life-giving. For just as the Dry Bones of Ezekiel’s vision gets meat and flesh on them, but without the breath of God breathing on them they will not live (Dem bone, dem dry bones, now hear the Word of the Lord…Old African-American Spiritual).
- Zombies/ Living Dead are grotesque and macabre -symbolizing things that appear alive but are really dead, so we humans may appear alive, but are spiritually like the walking dead!
- This is where the image of both the Dry bones and the Dead Lazarus are very powerful graphically.
- Note the Dry Bones first come together and only then do they receive the breath/life giving Spirit from God. [Ruach/breath/wind/Spirit].
- Lazarus had died, was entombed and was decomposing (4 days dead). He was already stinking, then Jesus calls him forth (out) of the tomb after the stone had been removed from the entrance. There is a beautiful picture/image here when Jesus tells his friends to remove the grave cloths that that still bound him. We have a part to play in helping to unbind people who are coming to faith (deliverance = salvation).
- In John we see Lazarus laid in the darkness of the tomb. Jesus is called the Light of the World: He calls him out of the darkness of death into the Light and to Life. Jesus said:
- I am the Light of the world!
- I am the resurrection and the life!
- John shows different aspects of Jesus self-revelation: 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.
- Note: Also, it is by the Word of Jesus that Lazarus is called forth to Life! (Lord, only say the word and my servant will be healed! Centurion said to Jesus).
- So What About Us?: How does all this work and apply to us and for us? (2 prepositions).
o Let us not be like the walking dead! – Romans 8.6-11 – Live by the Spirit.
o Though you may feel like Ezekiel’s Dry Bones, God is in the restoration and renewal business – New Life and New Hope – Hang in there and do not quit.
o Finally, Lazarus’ death and resurrection testifies to the fact that Jesus triumphed over death for the grave could not hold him. Here is one of the greatest sources of hope for all, however weak your faith may be. In the face of death and loss [ death= physical; of hopes and dreams; relationships; Loss = things; meaning; purpose; identity; status] –
o there is new life – Hallelujah, what a Saviour!