AGCC sun a.m. 10/13/96
TEXT: Ezekiel 37:1-14
INTRO: We all believe that the Gospel of Christ can save the lost, we know that it
can change whole communities, what we don't often however believe is that it will
happen to our community and our friends!
God often asks us this question: "Can these dead live?"...and like Ezekiel we are
careful in how we answer, not wishing to say "NO" to God, but yet not really believing that God will use us to bring changes to the dead around us, we answer
like Ezekiel, "You alone know oh Lord!" We see the seemingly hopeless state of
people's lives in sin and we forget that God wishes to bring alive the
Ezekiel discovers 2 ways that God brings life to those who are dead, whether they
are dead in the sins, or whether a Church is dead and needs new life,
these 2 things will bring life!
The Word of God and the power of the Holy spirit can transform the most hopeless
A college professor visited the FiJi
Islands some years back. Being an agnostic, he critically remarked to the
elderly chief who had become a Christian, along with most of the tribe he was
over because of the work of earlier missionaries the following statement:
"You're a great leader chief, but it's a pity you've been
taken in by these foreign missionaries. They only want to get rich
through you. No one believes the Bible anymore. People are tired of the
threadbare story of Jesus Christ dying on a cross for the sins of
mankind, they know better now. I'm sorry you've been so foolish as to
accept their story." The old chief's eyes flashed as he answered this
agnostic professor with these words, "see that great rock over there? On it
we smashed the heads of our victims. Notice the furnace next to it? In
that oven we formerly roasted the bodies of our enemies. If it
hadn't been for those good missionaries and the love of Jesus that
changed us from cannibals into Christians, you'd never leave this place
alive! You'd better thank the Lord for the Gospel; otherwise we'd
already be feasting on you. If it weren't for the Bible, you'd now be our
supper!" The Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit brought life where
there was death!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that no situation is hopeless, even the most
spiritually dead nation or Church can be revived, God desires to send revival to
the dead, and it comes through God's Word and God's Holy Spirit!
I. BONE DRY EXISTENCE! 37:1-3
A. Hopeless Situation 37:1-2
1. Ezekiel was looking at a nation that was terribly backslidden from God
a. He had already preached sermons of coming judgment...no response!
b. Israel was basically ignoring his ministry
c. The nation that once honored God had drifted into so much compromise that it hardly resembled the once godly nation it had been
2. This is the point of the vision of seeing a large valley of dry bones...a place
of only death where once a large group of living people had stood
a. God took Ezekiel into the middle of this valley of dry bones so that he
could see it from every angle...and no matter which way he looked, there was only death on every side!
b. How hopeless this must have seen to Ezekiel who understood that the
meaning of this was that of a hopeless situation viewed from any angle!
3. The Spirit of God took him back and forth through the valley so that he
knew that there was no life anywhere!
a. to a Prophet of God this must have been discouraging...all was lost, all
was dead...no hope!
b. Like Israel during Ezekiel's day, there was only dry bones and no
ILLUS: A Wichita Pastor's opening prayer angered legislators in the Kansas House of Representatives. This was the prayer he offered: "We confess we have ridiculed the absolute
truth of Your Word and called in moral pluralism, we have worshipped other gods and called it
multiculturalism, we have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle, we have
exploited the poor and called it the lottery, we have neglected the needy and called it self- preservation, we have rewarded laziness and called it welfare, we have killed our unborn and
called it choice, we have shot abortionists and called it justifiable, we have neglected to
discipline our children and called it building self-esteem, we have abused power and called it
political savvy, we have coveted our neighbors' possessions and called it ambition, we have
polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression, we have
ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment." As he
prayed, several got mad and one by one they walked out of the chamber as the Pastor of the
Central Christian Church continued this prayer...he had been selected to be the guest chaplain
that Jan. 23. He closed the prayer with a plea for God's forgiveness, blessing, and wisdom. A
prayer to bring back to life a lot of dry
4. Sometimes it seems we too see little hope of life returning to "dead bones"
country and our "dead bones" Churches....
a. when we feel this way, we abandon effort to do anything about it!
b. We cannot afford to become despondent in the face of a valley of dry
B. Human Solutions? 37:3
1. God now asks Ezekiel an intriguing question, "CAN THESE BONES LIVE?"
a. Notice the emphasis in this the previous verse on the fact that these bones were "very dry"
b. The possibility of human help was long gone!
c. The fact that no human solution was possible is shown by Ezekiel's
answer to God's question, "You alone know Lord!"
2. No doubt Ezekiel struggled how to answer God's question, for he had the
knowledge that God had the ability, but he lacked the faith to believe it
would happen, so he simply says, "YOU ALONE KNOW!"
a. this way he didn't doubt,
b. but he also doesn't show faith!
c. this is often our response too when we look at those around us and
wonder if they will ever get saved!
3. In one way it was true, there was no human solution to the problem of
dry bones...even an atheist would have admitted this!
a. It is interesting however, that when all human solutions fail, even men
of no faith will suddenly cry out to God!
b. When human solutions fail, God steps in to act!
ILLUS: Not long ago a neat little sign was seen in a principal's office in a school that read
as follows: "In the
event of nuclear attack, fire, or earthquake, the ban on prayer is
temporarily lifted!" When human solutions end, only God can do
4. Even Ezekiel had run out of hope that Israel could be revived, certainly
his ministry hadn't yet made a difference!
5. What would it take to bring a revival?...to bring alive dry
II. BEING DELIVERED & ENERGIZED! 37:4-14
A. Hearing Scripture 37:4,7-8
1. God now begins the process to revive these long dead bones...and the place
to start is with the preaching of His Word to the bones!
a. all revivals in history begin this way...the Word of God in a true revival
does not take a back seat to the emotional experiences of a revival, the
Word of God takes a front seat in a revival!!!
b. It must have seem strange to Ezekiel that God would ask him to preach
God's Word to dry bones!!!
2. Notice however what happens when He preaches God's Word to these bones!
a. There is a sudden "rattling sound" (by the way, this word is reminiscent of the "sound of a mighty rushing wind" in Acts!)
b. There is movement again...although still not full life!
c. The Word of God when shared with others causes some kind of movement!
d. The Word of God is not the product of man's creation...it is the product
of God's own hand...thus it has power!
ILLUS: Researchers in Israel recently subjected the first 5 books of the Bible to an exhaustive
computer analysis to see whether it had any unique characteristics to it, and whether it was
written by several different authors like liberal scholars claim. They were shocked when the
computer spit out its conclusions! The Israeli Institute of Technology analysis was as follows:
there was found an intricate pattern of significant words concealed in the Scripture, such a
pattern happening by chance would be 1 in 3 million! The material was the work of a single
author, not several! In fact, the computer suggested that the work could not have been done
by human capabilities at all with all its hidden designs dynamics! The final analysis from the
institute was: "we need a non-rational
explanation" for these books of the Bible!
3. Like a skeleton, the Bible brought back "STRUCTURE" to these dead, although they still were not yet alive, for this they needed God's "BREATH"
(a symbol of the Holy Spirit)
a. God's Word returned structure again to these dead...
b. but it still needed one more thing...the breath of God!
c. The Word of God must be energized by the Holy Spirit to bring full
B. Holy Spirit 37:5-6,9-10
1. These newly restored bodies however still lacked something...God's breath!
a. That word had to be combined with God's breath or Spirit in order to
energize these dead back to life again!
b. The Bible alone without the work of the Holy Spirit will not bring back
life, the two work together!
2. There have always been times when people fought over "God's Word", nations have fought over it, denominations have split over it, Churches
have fought over it....but only the Holy Spirit can energize God's Word
into a healing force!
a. The disciples had the Word before Pentecost, but after Pentecost, they
had the power with the Word!
b. The New Testament Church MUST be a Pentecostal Church...a Church
that preaches the Word of God with God's Spirit empowering it!
3. Notice that God asks Ezekiel to "prophesy to the wind", in other words,
"speak to the Spirit" ...or PRAY!
a. It was not enough to just preach the Word to the people
b. he needed to also Pray to God to have the Holy Spirit empower that
c. Prayer is also needed for revival!!! All revivals in history have included
both an emphasis on preaching and on prayer!
4. Notice that when he prayed to the Spirit or "prophesied to the wind" that it
was at this point that full life came into the dead!
a. there can be no life without the Spirit of God!
b. there can be no structure without God's Word
c. these two do not work independently of each other, but together to bring life!
5. What brought life to a long dead people.... The Word, and the Wind of the
Spirit of God!......
ILLUS: It is not accident that some of the great awakenings in history have begun in prayer!
A prayer meeting under a haystack in a rainstorm in 1806 led to the first large scale American
missionary efforts. In 1830 some 30,000 people were converted in Rochester, New York, under the ministry of Charles Finney; later Finney said the reason was the faithful praying of
one man who never attended the meetings but gave himself to prayer during them. In 1872 the American evangelist Dwight L. Moody began a campaign in London, England which was
used by God to touch countless lives, later
Moody discovered that it was a bedridden humble girl that had been praying!
While he preached and she prayed, God brought revival!
6. Good preaching without prayer won't bring revival, and neither will prayer
without good preaching!...they work in harmony!
a. The word for "wind" here is "RUACH"...the same word for SPIRIT.
b. It is clear that only after Ezekiel had been faithful PREACH and PRAY
for the Spirit to do His work did life come in power!
c. The phrase, "A VAST ARMY" suggests that even Ezekiel was overwhelmed
with the results!
C. Hope Stirred! 37:11-14
1. What Ezekiel had first see as a hopeless situation was now completely
a. A dead nation would find new life again with God's help
b. Revival can come to our country too
c. Revival can come to our Church too
d. there is no hopeless situation as long as we have two things:
(1. God's Word
(2. God's Spirit
2. God can resurrect even those who are have been long buried already!
a. Though Israel was dead...in fact long dead ("very dry bones") they will
be brought back to life again!
b. God is anxious to revive His people, He waits on us!
3. Long after the prophet is gone, God's Word and His Spirit will still bring
to life those who are dead....it is a work of God, not the work of human
solutions that revive a dead people!
ILLUS: You and I have an English Bible in our possession largely because of a man named John Wycliffe. He was known not only as a builder, producing the first English text of the Bible, but also as a fighter. He not only believed in the Word, but also in the Spirit of God
empowering that Word to act in such a way as to revive the dead! When he died, his enemies
burned him at the stake and took the ashes of his body and sprinkled them over the Thames
River in London, stating, "FOREVER, WE'RE RID OF WYCLIFFE!" While they may have gotten
rid of Wycliffe, the work he had done lives on
today still transforming lives all over the world!
4. God is ready to revive...all we need to do is preach and pray....the Pentecostal Church will always see revival...are we one?
5. There is a solution to the decay and death in this world...it comes from God
and not man!
CONCLUSION: When God's people Israel had grown cold and rebellious, God sent a
prophet named Ezekiel to assure them that He would bring revival to His people.
Revival would come with two things: The Word and prayer for the power of the
Holy Spirit to move. What looked hopeless to Ezekiel was possible with God, God
send us a revival too!