What is the Valley of Dry Bones (Ezek. 37:2-14)?
Ezekiel 37:1-14 is about the future of the nation of Israel, but it starts with a vision about a valley full of bones.
The hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. (NASB) Ezekiel 37:1
Very Dead People?
God then motivated the prophet Ezekiel to move down through the valley among these bones.
He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, You know.” (NASB) Ezek. 37:2-3
In a living person, bones are wet since they contain blood and marrow. After a person dies, bones start to dry out as the corpse decays and disintegrates. The bones this prophet was looking at were very dry. That means the bones were very old and the men and women had died long before.
Then the prophet was directed to prophesy and when he did, the bones became alive and flesh was put on the bones.
Again 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 that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the LORD.'” So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin 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 come to life.”‘” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.” (NASB) Ezekiel 37:4-10
The illustration is vivid and tells us that the dry, white bones had returned to life. This is not a story about skeletons and ghosts, but about a nation returning to life. The next verse tells us that these are not the bones of men and women. They are symbolic of the kingdom of Judea in southern Israel and the kingdom of Israel in northern Israel. Together they comprise the nation of Israel.
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 has perished. We are completely cut off.'” (NASB) Ezekiel 37:11
The skeletons symbolized a dead nation but the skeletons with blood and flesh symbolize a nation that has returned to life.
Israel Returns To The Land
God goes on to say He will bring His nation of Israel back to life again and back to their land of Israel.
Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it,” declares the LORD.'” (NASB) Ezekiel 37:12-14
This prophecy was fulfilled in 1948 when Israel was created by United Nations Resolution 181 which divided the territory of the British Mandate for Palestine into two states for Jews and Palestinian Arabs. God predicted that this would occur in 590-570 B.C. and it occurred in A.D. 1948.
This is an incredible prophecy. Who would have ever thought that a nation would disappear from its land then reappear almost two millennia later? Israel was destroyed by the Roman Army in A.D. 70 and ceased to exist as a nation. For almost 2,000 years the Jews were homeless – without a country. Now they live in the same land that they previously owned and they are looking for the Messiah to return. The next event in their history is the second coming of their Messiah – Jesus Christ. And He is coming again . . .