Exploration of the Dry Bones Scriptures in Ezekiel

A few Bible passages capture the imagination as vividly as the vision of the Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37. This chapter, a cornerstone of prophetic literature, presents a striking image of hope and restoration against a backdrop of despair and desolation.

The prophet Ezekiel, amidst the challenges of exile and the disheartenment of the Israelites, is given a vision that transcends time, speaking as much to contemporary readers as it did to its original audience. This blog post delves into the depths of Ezekiel 37, exploring its profound messages and enduring relevance.

What are the Dry Bones Scriptures?

The Dry Bones scriptures are in Ezekiel 37:1-14:

37 1 “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then 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, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had 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 may live.” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

11 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 is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”

Setting the Scene: The Vision of the Valley

Ezekiel’s vision begins in a desolate valley, filled with dry bones. These bones, scattered and lifeless, symbolize the dire state of the Israelite nation during their exile. The dryness of the bones indicates not just death, but a prolonged absence of life, representing a people long severed from their spiritual and cultural roots.

As Ezekiel surveys this valley of despair, the scene sets the stage for a narrative of divine intervention and restoration. The Enduring Word Bible Commentary illuminates this imagery: the bones assembling themselves rightly signifies that when God restores, He does so orderly and purposefully, reversing the process of decay and symbolizing a return to life from a state of complete desolation​​.

In the next section, we’ll explore the divine command that initiates the miraculous transformation of these dry bones and the theological significance of this process.

The Prophetic Command and the Miracle of Assembly

As Ezekiel stands amidst the lifeless bones, God commands him to prophesy over them, a symbolic act of speaking life into death. This command marks the beginning of a miraculous transformation. As Ezekiel obeys, there is a rattling sound, and the bones start to come together, bone to bone.

This moment is not just about physical reconstruction; it represents the initial stirrings of hope and the possibility of revival. According to the Enduring Word Bible Commentary, the precise and orderly assembly of the bones underlines a key aspect of divine restoration: God’s meticulous attention to detail and His power to bring order out of chaos​​.

The bones then become covered with sinews, flesh, and skin, but they lack breath. This stage is crucial; it symbolizes a partial restoration. Like the Israelites in exile, the figures are physically reformed yet spiritually lifeless, awaiting the breath of God to be fully revived. This staged restoration highlights the processual nature of spiritual awakening and the need for divine intervention at every step.

The Breath of Life: Spiritual and Physical Restoration

The climax of this vision occurs when God commands Ezekiel to call upon the breath, to breathe life into these formed bodies. Drawing from the commentary provided by Working Preacher, this breath (or “spirit”) from the four winds is a divine force that animates the lifeless bodies, culminating in a scene of a resurrected and standing army​​. This dramatic moment echoes the creation narrative in Genesis, where God breathes life into Adam, symbolizing a new creation, a rebirth.

This powerful imagery transcends its immediate context, as outlined in Church Sermon Outlines. In Christian interpretations, this act of God breathing life into bones is seen as foreshadowing the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the broader concept of spiritual renewal and eternal life​​. The scene in Ezekiel is thus not only a promise of physical restoration for the Israelites but also a profound message about spiritual regeneration and the transformative power of God’s spirit.

Interpretation and Symbolism: Israel’s Restoration

The vision in Ezekiel 37 extends beyond a mere display of God’s power; it carries a profound message for the Israelites. In verses 11-14, God explains that the dry bones symbolize the entire house of Israel, who felt their hope was lost and they were cut off. This metaphorical representation, as analyzed in Working Preacher, captures the depth of despair felt by the exiles and the seeming impossibility of their situation​​. However, God’s action in the vision reverses this narrative, transforming despair into hope and signifying a promise of revival and return to their homeland.

This part of the vision, where God declares to open their graves and bring them up from them, is not just about physical return but also signifies a spiritual awakening. As noted in the Church Sermon Outlines, this prophecy deepened the Israelites’ understanding of God’s unwavering faithfulness to His covenant, His mercy in restoration, and His sovereignty over all circumstances​​.

The Broader Theological Context

Ezekiel 37’s vision resonates with broader biblical themes and connects with other parts of Ezekiel and the prophetic books. The theme of God’s spirit bringing life is a recurring motif in Ezekiel, first appearing in the prophet’s inaugural vision in chapter 1. The image of God’s breath or spirit (ruach in Hebrew) is crucial to understanding the book’s message about God’s presence and power.

Bible Studies

Furthermore, the vision of the two sticks in the latter part of Ezekiel 37, which symbolizes the reunification of the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, complements the dry bones’ vision by emphasizing God’s role in restoring national and spiritual unity. This message aligns with the prophecies in Jeremiah and Isaiah, which also speak of exile, restoration, and a renewed covenant with God.

The vision’s themes, particularly the idea of resurrection and revival, have deep theological implications. They not only foreshadow the resurrection of Jesus Christ in Christian interpretations but also emphasize God’s power to bring life and hope in seemingly impossible situations.

Contemporary Application: Lessons for Today

Ezekiel’s vision of the Valley of Dry Bones, while deeply rooted in its historical and theological context, speaks volumes to contemporary readers. In a world often beset by despair, disconnection, and spiritual dryness, this passage serves as a powerful reminder of the possibility of renewal and hope. It challenges modern believers and communities to reflect on their spiritual vitality and to seek rejuvenation through faith and connection to divine power.

The process of the bones coming to life can be metaphorically applied to personal and communal revivals. Just as the bones in the valley were transformed from a state of lifelessness to becoming a vast, living army, individuals and communities today can experience a profound transformation, moving from desolation to a vibrant spiritual life. This transformation requires not only recognition of one’s condition but also an active engagement with the divine, mirroring Ezekiel’s role in the vision.

Songs about Dry Bones

“Dem Bones”

The original song “Dry Bones” (also known as “Dem Bones”) is a well-known spiritual song inspired by Ezekiel 37:1-14, the Biblical story where the Prophet Ezekiel brings dry bones to life through divine command. The song was first recorded by The Famous Myers Jubilee Singers in 1928. Its lyrics convey the message of the Biblical story through a repetitive and catchy melody, emphasizing the connectivity of different bones (e.g., the toe bone connected to the foot bone, the foot bone connected to the ankle bone, etc.), creating a vivid picture of the physical reconstruction of the human body.

The song is not only a musical retelling of a Biblical story but also has been used to teach basic anatomy to children, thanks to its simple and repetitive structure. Over the years, “Dry Bones” has been covered and adapted by numerous artists across various music genres, reflecting its enduring appeal and the powerful imagery of the spiritual message in Ezekiel 37.

Come Alive (Dry Bones)

Come Alive (Dry Bones)” is a song by Lauren Daigle, a prominent American contemporary Christian music singer and songwriter. Released as part of her 2015 album “How Can It Be,” the song is known for its deeply spiritual and inspirational lyrics, along with Daigle’s powerful vocal performance.

The theme of the song is based on the Biblical story of the Valley of Dry Bones, which is found in the book of Ezekiel. This story speaks about the prophet Ezekiel who, under God’s command, prophesies to a valley of dry bones, which then come together, grow flesh, and come to life, symbolizing the restoration of Israel.

Final Thoughts

The narrative of the Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37 stands as a monumental testament to God’s power to revive and restore. From the initial vision of desolation to the final scene of a resurrected army, the passage encapsulates a journey from despair to hope, from death to life. This vision not only affirmed God’s commitment to restore Israel but also offered a broader message about God’s ability to bring life and hope in the most desolate circumstances.

For modern readers, Ezekiel’s vision remains a poignant reminder that renewal and restoration are always within reach, regardless of how dire the situation may seem. It encourages faith in the face of adversity and trust in divine promises, serving as a beacon of hope that continues to resonate across ages.

Additional Resources

For those interested in delving deeper into the theological interpretations and implications of Ezekiel 37, the following resources provide insightful perspectives and analyses:

  1. Enduring Word Bible Commentary on Ezekiel Chapter 37 – Offers a detailed verse-by-verse analysis of the chapter.
  2. Working Preacher’s Commentary on Ezekiel 37:1-14 – Provides an insightful exploration of the passage’s theological significance.
  3. Church Sermon Outlines: Journey into the Valley of Dry Bones – Discusses the broader implications of the vision for the Israelites and its connection to other biblical texts.
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Bryan E. Robinson

Bryan E. Robinson is a U.S. Army veteran and founder of Scriptures.blog. Bryan enjoys digging deep into the Scriptures and exploring the historical and spiritual contexts in the passages. He founded Scriptures.blog to share his findings and share the Word with as many people as he can.