Read through the lesson below (if you are in a group take turns reading). Then have a discussion, possible questions are included at the end. If you are alone, try to pair up with others in a small group through texting or even a phone call.
We wonder why God allows the world to do some of the things it does. Why are we in week two of a virus outbreak? Why do so many people die in war? Did you know that it is estimated that 62 million people worldwide died in WWII. Some even estimate this higher. Why does He not intercede and stop these things from happening; can He even stop it, some ask?
The answer is absolutely yes, He can and that He does. I believe that even more evil exists out there that He does not let happen. So why does He let what happens happen? We don’t know. Nobody does, and if they tell you they do it’s just a theory of theirs. Only God knows. Remember, “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV 1984)
The First word of this passage is “For” so we should always look “What For”, and we will but first let’s look at what God does do?
Ezekiel was a prophet during the time of Exile, a time that lasted far longer than the Israelis probably wanted. In fact, they were probably sitting around in their Babylonian homes in a strange world they had never seen before wondering when this would all end and things could get back to normal. Feel familiar?
One day Ezekiel was setting by the river and God appeared to Him, so he began to prophesize. But not in ordinary ways like other prophets had done. God had him actually act out some of the symbolisms of his prophesies. But the point is they were already in Exile for some time. In addition, he continued to prophesize for 22 years.
One of the most spectacular Prophesies was in the valley of the bones. We read in scripture Gods word,
“The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus, says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on 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 had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and 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, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus, says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’ I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.
Then he said to me, ‘Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus, says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord’” (Ezekiel 37:1-14 NRSV)
Wow, the same breath of life that was breathed into Adam and Eve was breathed into not just dead bones but dead for a longtime bones. According to the internet, it takes up to a year to have just a skeleton in some cases. These were bones loooooonng dead. Yet God has the last word in what dead is. Remember Lazarus. Remember the little girl. Remember even Peter raising the dead. What God was saying to Ezekiel was that He has the final word, and that Israel would be restored albeit in His time.
Now let’s go back to the passage in Isaiah, that is if you have not already read the full text on your own. Let’s read the whole chapter to see what God has to say about what he allows and does not, and why.
“Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.
See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples.
See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.
Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah 55 NRSV)
So, in reading this we can definitely see that, even though we don’t know why God allows what he allows, we know what He does allows is for a higher purpose; His purpose and plan. His plan that will accomplish what He has purposed to happen. So, what our part in all of this is, is to trust in His perfect, divine, although strange seeming plan.
How do you feel the Dry dead bones relates to our issues today?
Do you believe that God is capable of raising the Dead? Even long-time dead bones?
Do you see God as a destroyer or a creator? Why?
How do you feel God is at work in your life today; in your present circumstances?