From graveyards to cubicles: Bringing the dead to life
I love walking through graveyards. Reverence for the lives of those passed on creates an atmosphere of quiet respect. It’s a place to celebrate, mourn, and remember. It’s unusually peaceful and hauntingly beautiful, a place where the only heartbeat you expect to hear is your own.
This brings us to the valley of dry bones.
God leads Ezekiel, a prophet, to a dusty valley of dry, scattered bones. He asks Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
“O Sovereign Lord, you alone know,” Ezekiel answers (Ezek 37:3).
The conditions looked bleak, so his answer should have been a simple “no.” There wasn’t much reason to expect the bones to be anything other than lifeless. After all, graveyards don’t usually exude hope or anticipation, but Ezekiel’s answer reveals even the smallest hint of faith.
The Lord continues, telling Ezekiel to speak the following: “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!’” (Ezek 37:4)
A jostling sound echoes in the barren valley. It starts slowly at first, growing louder and more apparent. The bones clatter together, finding one another again. Bodies form out of dust. Bones regenerate, tendons scamper to find their fit, and skin paints itself back onto new, restored flesh. By all accounts, Ezekiel witnessed a downright a miracle. Still, the bodies remained lifeless.
God began to speak to his prophet once more.
“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 from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’’’ So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army,” (Ezek 37:9-10).
Imagine standing before that newly-readied army. Imagine watching God bring life back to what once was dead. Imagine getting to be a part of that story.
I love this passage for many reasons. One is for the utter insanity. What occurred before Ezekiel is scientifically laughable and wildly impossible. Most of us would pledge allegiance to believe God’s omnipotent power, but this scene would feel entirely… unbelievable.
I love how this story also proves God’s authority over the dead and the living; his sovereignty knows no boundaries. And what’s more, I love that God wanted Ezekiel to take part in the process. God breathed life into the bodies, but he gave Ezekiel a job to do in the process.
In this passage, we see a God of restoration. An unthinkable resurrection in the middle of an old, dusty graveyard encapsulates the character and nature of God. But God doesn’t perform miracles simply for the shock value (although I imagine that would be part of the fun). This story reminds us how God loves to restore broken things.
The more I thought about this story, the more I wondered what else his restorative nature applies to. Physical death and resurrection, yes. Most church-going Christians know the gospel involves some sort of fire insurance. But what about things in this life? Does God care about restoring what’s broken here and now? What about broken relationships? Dead-end jobs? Dried out finances?
The Bible offers a big, resounding yes. God longs to make all things new (Rev 21:5), in the future, but also the present. Restoration is impossible without God’s presence. If we recall the resurrection of Israel’s army, it is was Ezekiel’s prophecy that brought God’s breath to the valley, but it was God’s spirit that brought new life.
“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,” (Ezek 37:14).
As a new team member of Made to Flourish, I get to see that hope in action every single day. I love the vision we get to cast. We’re not introducing new systems. We’re not reinventing the wheel. We’re simply establishing ourselves on the Word of God, trusting that he wants to renew every valley of dry bones, including the areas of faith and work. If God, in his infinite power, has the ability to bring dead people back to life, how much more is he able to restore the broken nature of our daily work?
How often do you hear things like, “I feel like the work that I’m doing doesn’t matter;” “I’m just trying to get by until I retire;” or “I used to have big dreams, but this is just reality.”
How often do our day-to-day roles feel like dry, barren landscape? How often do we long for the Word of God to refresh and renew our weary toil? What would it look like to surrender our work, our finances, and our vocations to God’s restorative process?
Like Ezekiel, I hope we see the beauty in the collective participation of God’s redemptive story. Work is hard. Relationships are broken. Financial worries are almost inevitable. But with a front row seat to God’s healing Spirit, what valley is there that God cannot restore?
I pray we can anticipate the revival of our homes, cubicles, fields, and factories with the living Spirit of God. Let us hold on to this promise: “Behold, I am making all things new!”Topics: Theology, Work and the Bible