Eze_37:11-13. Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we are cut off for our parts. Therefore. prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves.
THE writings both of the Old and New Testament abound with allegories; but the interpretation of them is generally given by the writers themselves. Many of our Lord’s discourses were of this nature: they are admirably calculated to convey instruction. We have a very remarkable allegory in this chapter. The prophet sees in a vision a valley of dry bones; he is interrogated with respect to the possibility of their living; he is commanded to bid them live in the name of the Lord. On issuing the proclamation he perceived a noise among the bones; the bones shook, and carne, each to its kindred bone; the sinews, flesh, and skin, then came upon them: lastly, in answer to his prayer, life was communicated to them. This allegory is then interpreted by God himself. It describes the state of the Jews in Babylon, and their unexpected deliverance from it. But it may be properly considered as relating to the deliverance of God’s people from the sorer bondage of sin.
We shall take occasion from the text to consider,
The state of unregenerate men—
The Jews in Babylon were as unlikely to return to a state of political existence, as dry bones are to the functions of animal life. They themselves despaired of such an event (ver. 11). Their condition fitly represents that of the unregenerate—
The unregenerate are dead, even as dry bones—
[In this light they are represented by the Apostle [Note: Eph_2:1.];. They are destitute of all inclination or ability to serve God [Note: Php_2:13.]: they have not a sufficiency even for the smallest good [Note: 2Co_3:5.].”]
They not unfrequently despair of ever obtaining deliverance—
[Despondency is far more common than is generally supposed. Many imagine, like Job, that they are given over by God [Note: Compare Lam_3:18 and Job_19:10.]: hence they express themselves like the desponding Jews [Note: Jer_2:25.]—.]
They are not, however, beyond the reach of mercy—
This will appear by considering,
The means by which God delivers them from it—
God can work by the meanest and most contemptible means—
[By the sound of rams’ horns he overthrew Jericho: by the stroke of Elijah’s mantle he parted the waters of Jordan: so, by the preaching of his Gospel he quickens the dead.]
He commands his power and grace to be proclaimed—
[He is an almighty, all-sufficient God. He promises pardon to all who seek it in his appointed way. He offers his Spirit to renew all who call upon him. He assures the believing soul that it shall never perish [Note: Isa_41:10.]. Thus he encourages the weakest and the vilest to look unto him [Note: Isa_45:22.].]
In this way he accomplishes the deliverance of his people—
[A gradual change is made in the most obdurate sinners. There is a “great army,” of whom it may be said as of the prodigal [Note: Luk_15:24.]—: they go forth immediately to “the promised land.”]
Nor does any one remain ignorant of his benefactor—
This leads us to consider,
The effects which this deliverance produces—
While dead in sin we imagine we must quicken ourselves—
[We know not the depth of misery into which we are fallen. We little think how great a change must take place upon us; nor are we aware how entirely destitute we are of strength.]
But when once we are quickened, we see whence our deliverance came—
[We feel by experience the truth of Jeremiah’s assertion [Note: Jer_13:23.]—. We see that the Apostles themselves were only God’s instruments [Note: 1Co_3:6-7.]. Then we know God to be the Lord, the source of every good. We learn also to commit all our ways to him.]
How valuable are the ordinances of religion!
[God makes use of his ordinances for the most glorious purposes. He works principally in and by them [Note: Rom_10:17.]. They who neglect them are generally left in darkness; but sincere worshippers reap the greatest benefit from them. Let us never then grow weary of attending them: let us use them with a dependence on God for his blessing.]
What care has God taken to encourage desponding sinners!
[No state can be worse than this represented in the text [Note: ver. 2. “very dry.”]; yet God has shewn how he could overrule the heart of Cyrus to proclaim liberty, and of his own people to accept it. He displayed also his mighty power in re-establishing his people; what then can he not do for those who are dead in sin? Let none say, “My hope is lost, I am cut off.” Let it he remembered that the power and grace of Christ are sufficient [Note: Joh_11:25.]. Let every one hear in faith the Apostle’s exhortation [Note: Eph_5:14.]—.]