If you know, or have heard of, one Ezekiel chapter, then it’s bound to be this one. Just as in those early, vision-filled years of his ministry, Ezekiel is again apprehended by God’s Spirit, and set in what appears to be a battlefield. The fighting has long-since finished, but the dismembered bodies are there, flesh rotted away so that only bones remain (vv.1-2). All life has gone, but when God questions Ezekiel about whether a miracle can happen to them, Ezekiel now knows God too well not to question (or at least, to question out loud) God’s power (v.3).
The Lord gives the word to Ezekiel, that he must command life to these bones (vv.4-6). He obeys, and what happens next is one of the strangest moments recorded in Scripture, as the bones rattle together, tendons and flesh grow, and bodies come together front of the prophet (7-8). At Ezekiel’s word, breath enters them, and in front of his surely terrified eyes, an army appears (vv.9-10). The Lord explains: this was an army of unbelievers, an apostate Israel, but they are now a vivid picture of the power of God, giving life where there was death, raising men in His grace where judgement had fallen (vv.11-12).
How can this be so? Because of another battlefield. That is Calvary. At Calvary one man, who kept God’s Law, went to the cross. He was already whipped and beaten so that His flesh was torn from His bones. He went naked, and was set up on the cross, only later to be laid in the dust of death. He was the perfect sacrifice, which alone brings forgiveness of sins and new life to spiritually dead people. Faith in Him through hearing His voice produces nothing less than new life (John 5.24-30). “The One God has sent speaks the words of God, for He gives the Spirit without limit” (John 3.34). He is the One who fulfils Ezekiel’s prophecy (compare 37.11-14).
And these bones will live as one nation. Judah and Israel have been smashed apart nearly two centuries before. They will be one people again, though (vv.15-17). This one nation will enjoy one land, as one people enjoying their God (vv.22-23).
All this will be theirs because of the promised Shepherd-King, the descendant of David (vv.24-28). This is an incredible announcement that God’s plans will climax in the coming of one who will save, rule, protect and live with His people. Obviously and gloriously, this is Jesus! His people live, not in one land, but far better, they inhabit every nation on the earth. And His dwelling-place is with them.
So Ezekiel’s strange day and bizarre vision turn into the most intoxicatingly beautiful vision of the Person and power of Jesus. He has come, He is with His people, and shall be for evermore. This is life, and this is heaven. He offers us nothing less.