Ezekiel 37: 1-6
The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me to and fro among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’
I said, ‘Sovereign Lord, you alone know.’
Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones and say to them, “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”’
Mark 11: 22-24
‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered. ‘Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
The prophet Ezekiel is having a gruesome, disturbing vision of a valley of dry, bleached bones on every side. It reminds me of the scene in The Lion King when the young lion cub Simba disobeys his father’s orders and finds himself in an elephant graveyard. There is no adventure there, the lion cub discovers, only death at every turn. This, too, is what Ezekiel sees in this valley: only death. He’s not hovering above it or looking from a distance. He’s right in the middle of it, up to his ankles in bones. He completely surrounded by it on every side.
Maybe that’s a description of your life right now. You’re surrounded by situations, circumstances and people that are draining the life out of you. It could be in your workplace, your family, your health, your marriage. It feels like everywhere you turn there's discouragement and despair, and you're beginning to wonder if there's any hope of change or transformation.
Surroundings are very important. That’s why retail businesses spend so much money on lighting, colour schemes, product placement and ensuring that the ambiance is right. Some shops even pump fragrances around you because certain smells trigger emotions. Marketers know that what’s around you affects what you feel inside you. Your surroundings seep into you and can begin to shape you.
So how do you walk through those surroundings of darkness, discouragement, fear or immorality which might be all around you today?
Look again at what God tells Ezekiel to do:
“Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones and say to them, “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!" (v. 4)
To prophesy, simply means to declare the word of the Lord, to speak what God says. On the surface this seems ridiculous - speaking to a pile of dried up, lifeless bones. They don’t even have ears to hear. Sometimes God asks us to do things that simply don't make sense.
God essentially tells Ezekiel: "Stop speaking about what you see and start speaking to what you see. Command your surroundings to come into line with how God says they should be."
We are really good at describing the things in our lives which aren't how we want them to be. We can talk in great length and in graphic detail about our sickness, problems, pain, discouragements, disappointments and fears. Often more than anyone needs or wants to hear!
God doesn’t tell Ezekiel to speak about the bones but to speak to the bones. He doesn’t ask him to analyse them or describe why they are dead, but to start to decree and declare life into them.
Perhaps we need to stop talking about our problems and start speaking the Word of God to our problems. Stop speaking about what we see and start speaking about what God says - until what we see lines up with what He says.
In Mark 11 Jesus told the disciples, when confronted with a mountain, don't start to describe it's dimensions and don't even to pray to God about the mountain. Rather speak directly to the mountain and command it to move.
In Romans 4: 17, Paul describes God as: “…the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.” In other words, it’s not about naming your situation as it is right now, but calling it what God wants it to be.
- Speaking life where there’s death.
- Speaking hope where there’s despair.
- Speaking health and wholeness where there’s sickness.
- Speaking abundance where there is lack.
- Speaking courage where there’s fear.
It's doesn't take effort to notice a problem or find a fault. It does however take faith and trust in God, His Word and His character to see the problem as it is, but still know that what you see isn't the last word - His Word is the final authority. Speak and declare the Word of the Lord, calling what you see to line up with what He says.