“Where, O death, is your victory?” Take-Two

Ezekiel’s “Valley of Dry Bones” by Zimou Tan

Why should you trust and believe in the Lord God?

The most straightforward answer to this question is “so that when I die, I’ll rise again and live forever with Jesus in paradise”. The concept of eternal life for believers through the love and grace of Jesus Christ is fundamental and unique to Christianity.

As the Creator of the Heavens and Earth, our Triune God has infinite control over everything. We know, however, that since Genesis 3 and the corruption of Creation through human sin, the immortality of humanity came to a close. In this “new normal”, death is part and parcel of life.

Even so, God has demonstrated His power over life and death on numerous occasions throughout the Bible. Like most of the fantastic and miraculous events of the Bible, these accounts point us towards the rebirth of believer’s into paradise through the power of the Holy Spirit at the end of days. “Jesus’ resurrection proved He was able to remove sin and its penalty.”

And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone, and sat upon it. Matthew 28:2

Yes indeedy, It’s because of the awesomeness of this certainty that we can each ask and declare:

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?

1 Corinthians 15:55

We see in Romans 6:23 that our future death is the result of our past sin, and sin gets its power from the Law (1 Corinthians 15:56). However, we must be careful here. The apostle Paul clarifies that the undying Law of God is not, in itself, sinful; the Law serves as an infallible guide for our righteousness.

Paul admits that when God’s Law commands us not to do this or that, the human heart desires to do the opposite (see Romans 7:7-11). Nevertheless, because of his faithfulness to perfectly keep the Law and bear our sins, our Lord Jesus Christ has given us the victory (1 Corinthians 15:57).

One day, in the “twinkling of an eye”, we’ll all be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Our corruptible bodies will be clothed with incorruptibility; our mortal bodies clothed with immortality (15:53-54).  Every kind of suffering will cease to be. Our resurrection bodies will be both indestructible and incorruptible. For all those in Christ Jesus, death will be swallowed up (15:54-55).

All of the events, miracles, prophecies and events of the Old Testaments point us towards Jesus. We have this comfort through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

Psalm 23:4
Dwight L. Moody
A “Revivalist with a common touch”

The final verses we’re going to look at come out of the book of Ezekiel; a prophet from Judah who was living and writing during the time of Babylonian captivity (see 2 Kings 24:15). The purpose of this book is to remind the exiles from the kingdom of Judah of the glory of God in the coming Messiah. It is a prophecy of Israel’s restoration.

After the fall of Jerusalem, God had recommissioned Ezekiel as a watchman over the people of Israel. Despite their rebellious nature, God was ever committed to the covenant He’d made with Abram (Genesis 12:1-3).

Okay, hold on tight. This is one of the most hotly debated passages in the book of Ezekiel.

The Valley of Dry Bones

37 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 back and forth 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.'”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them, and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

Then he said to me, “Prophecy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.'” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’

Ezekiel 37:1-10

God told his watchman Ezekiel, to warn, awaken, and reassure His people.

Israel had just been plundered. Ezekiel, like the rest of the nation, was in a state of shock. It’s not surprising that Ezekiel was reluctant to answer God’s question in verse 3: “Son of man, can these bones live?”.

God goes on to illustrate His intention to breathe out His Spirit and revive His people. “breathe into these slain” is a reference to the breath of life given to humanity in Genesis 2:7. The same Hebrew verb of naphach is used in both cases. In both of these cases, the bodies did not awaken until they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

The invasion of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 is another telling account. Here, God didn’t merely breathe out His Spirit, He poured it out as prophesied by Joel. This event formally illustrates the beginning of the Christian Church.

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be to you; just as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and *said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:21-22.

The Promise of the Spirit

28 It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will have dreams,
Your young men will see visions.
29 And even on the male and female servants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

Joel 2:28-29

“The Valley of Dry Bones” is a prophetic illustration of spiritual revival upon the acceptance of Jesus Christ as the prophesied Messiah.

28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

Today, we see that that it’s the Word of God (see John 1:1-4) and His Spirit (see 2 Cor 3:17-18) that brings Spiritual revival today. If either of these are neglected, the church is but a charade.

If this world is going to be reached, I am convinced that it must be done by men and women of average talent.

Dwight L. Moody

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