By Barnabas Piper
One of the mistakes I often make when I read the Bible is to get so focused on the passage that I fail to see its place in the whole, beautiful literary work. It’s so easy to get lost in the details of a verse or chapter and miss the thread that runs through the whole text. To read passages like Ezekiel 36–37 with such blinders on is to cut its meaning out entirely.
Today’s reading is a passage about the restoration of the people of Judah after their exile, a renewal of place and people. But we cannot simply accept that meaning and be satisfied; so much more is being depicted in these verses. Exile refers to more than physical displacement, and the promise of restoration offers hope in a whole dimension beyond regaining a homeland.
In Ezekiel 36, we read of God bringing His people home, making them whole, and restoring His relationship with them and His name among them. But look at what He promises in verses 26–27: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.” This is not just a homecoming, it is a re-creation. It is a new spiritual life altogether.
And look what God asks Ezekiel in 37:3, “Son of man, can these bones live?” This is not a question merely of God restoring national pride or identity to a people who were scattered like bones. This is a question of the resurrection of the dead in soul and body. We know this because God directs him to prophesy flesh onto the bones and breath into the body. After which God says, “I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live…Then you will know that I am the LORD. I have spoken, and I will do it” (Ezekiel 37:14).
We find the final puzzle piece in 37:25: “my servant David will be their prince forever.” This is the promise of Christ, the Son of David who will reign forever. He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25), the One in whom the dead will be raised in soul and in body. Through Christ, the dry bones of spiritually dead people are made alive. Christ is the One through whom salvation has gone to the nations so that we are able to live within the promise of restoration.
If we get lost in the details of passages like this, we miss the greater promises and salvation they reveal to us. We must always remember Jesus Christ is the thread that ties it all together, the fulfillment of it all.
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