The True Meaning of Ezekiel 37’s Valley of Dry Bones (Verse Study Series)

For this week’s Verse Study Series, we’ll look at Ezekiel 37:1-6. I couldn’t isolate only one verse from the passage, so we’ll be looking at verses 1-14 to discover the full meaning of the text. Just a disclaimer though: This is only a small bit of what there is to find about this text. This will help you get started, then you can go deeper in studying this chapter on your own.

Ezekiel 37 is a well-known chapter from the Old Testament. Unfortunately, it is also a passage taken out of context by many Christians.

This chapter involves a vision God gives to Ezekiel. The vision helps give hope to Ezekiel and the people of Israel because of Jerusalem’s coming destruction because of judgment due to their sin which was great (read through the prior chapters of Ezekiel for more about this).

The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by his Spirit and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them. There were a great many of them on the surface of the valley, and they were very dry. Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’
I replied, ‘Lord God, only you know.’
He said to me, ‘Prophesy concerning these bones and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Lord God says to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you will live. I will put tendons on you, make flesh grow on you, and cover you with skin. I will put breath in you so that you come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

Ezekiel 37:1-6 (CSB)

How This Passage Is Abused

At times, Ezekiel 37 has been wrongly leveraged to tell people to “declare and decree” their restoration or someone else’s. But that’s not what it is about nor is this an okay practice. So, why is this a problem?

1. Decreeing and declaring is not a biblical practice.

God determines our days and the answers to the prayers we make as He sees fit. We do not declare and decree things to happen according to what we want or assume as God’s will, which is akin in what is currently called “manifesting” and the Law of Attraction.

You might wonder then, doesn’t the Bible mention decreeing? In Job 22:28, where we read “you will also decree a thing, and it will be established for you,” this verse is more accurately translated (based on the meaning of the Hebrew) as “you will decide on a matter.”

Secondly, these words were spoken by one of Job’s friends who gets rebuked by God for not speaking the truth about God (Job 42:7). In light of this, it would not be wise to form doctrines based on something this man spoke. Likewise, Romans 4:17 speaks of God calling things into existence as Creator, not our doing so. We are the clay, the work of His hands and He alone is the Potter (Isaiah 64:8).

For more on this subject, check out this article.

2. Declaring what we want is the opposite of our call to surrender our lives to Christ.

Christ calls us to deny ourselves, take up our Cross and follow Him and His teachings (Matthew 16:24-26). Even when what we desire is a good thing and in agreement with God’s will, God’s way or timing for bringing it about may not be the same as our own.

Alongside His perfect will, it is His timing and way that matters as well. This is why we must pray to Father God as Jesus did, “Not my will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:24)

For more information on why Word of Faith (and Law of Attraction) are problematic, check out this YouTube video by Melissa Dougherty. Further, you may find these videos helpful: Are There Scriptures That Support New Age and Word of Faith? (starting at 1:21:43) and Are Affirmations Biblical?

God determines our days and the answers to the prayers we make as He sees fit. Believers do not declare and decree things to happen according to what we want or assume as God’s will, which is akin in what is currently called “manifesting” and the Law of Attraction.

Finding the True Context of Ezekiel 37

This passage includes quite a few notable symbols:

  • The valley (37:1) represents the location where the Israelites were scattered.
  • The bones represent “the whole house of Israel” (37:11).
  • The bones being “very dry” (37:2) represented that they felt as if “cut off” and without hope (37:11).

When Ezekiel spoke to these bones, he could only do so trusting in God’s ability to bring life again (37:6-7). He was obediently speaking the words of God to encourage the Israelites that all hope was not lost. As we see in Ezekiel 37:12-14, God promised to:

  • To gather them back to their land, and
  • To bring restoration.

In His promise to restore them, God also promises to give them His Spirit and spiritual life in salvation. He promises to bring about their full salvation through the Messiah who was to come. Israel and all the nations around them would know that Yahweh is the Lord when these promises came to pass.

Check out more from the Verse Study Series.

In Sum

Ezekiel 37 reveals truths we can learn about God’s ways and character, but this passage is not a prophetic word or act to be declared and decreed which would be unbiblical.

We can see the mercy of God revealed in this passage: Though Jerusalem was to experience destruction and the Jews exiled due to their sins, God would not destroy them completely. He promises to bring the ultimate restoration and salvation in their future, both physically restoring them to their land and spiritually restoring their hearts to the Messiah to come.

Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Look how they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished; we are cut off.’ Therefore, prophesy and say to them, ‘This is what the Lord God says: I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them, my people, and lead you into the land of Israel. You will know that I am the Lord, my people, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I am the Lord. I have spoken, and I will do it. This is the declaration of the Lord.’”

Ezekiel 37:11-14 (CSB)

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The True Meaning of Ezekiel 37’s Valley of Dry Bones (Verse Study Series)

6 thoughts on “The True Meaning of Ezekiel 37’s Valley of Dry Bones (Verse Study Series)

  1. Wow, that’s interesting never saw it from that perspective.
    So Amanda how about instances where we speak or declare God’s word over a situation or challenge?? Thought that was biblical, because I am thinking Ezekiel spoke at the word of the Lord.

    Like

    1. Ezekiel spoke God’s word as God told him to in order to communicate it to His people or to those of the nations (I recently finished reading the entire book of Ezekiel and when you read it as a whole this is even more obvious in the text). It was never just declaring and decreeing over a situation in order to change the situation. We have no power to change things like that, not even by speaking what God says to.

      When God speaks to us, He never tells us to declare it over a situation but as Jesus taught us, to pray to the Father “Your will be done, Your kingdom come… give us this day our daily bread” and so forth. So we pray TO God, asking Him to do what He says versus speaking TO actuations, etc. We aren’t God and can’t order things around like that, that is for God and God alone to do. Even when it comes to the enemy, for example, of the archangel Michael the Word says he “did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” (Jude 1:9).

      Unfortunately, this declaring and decreeing teaching has been taught to many (I was taught it also), and as I wrote in the post, it is not biblical. I’d suggest listening to the video I linked in the post if you have not already done so which will help, and also doing a search about the unbiblical roots of the Word of Faith movement. This will help clarify where these teachings came from, which was not from the Bible itself but other things, and then they used stuff from the Bible—cherry-picking it and twisting it to mean something else that isn’t the context.

      I’m going to be doing a review of a book too that details them, it’s called “Health, Wealth & Happiness: How the Prosperity Gospel Overshadows the Gospel of Christ” by David W. Jones. I highly recommend it! It is available and on sale right now on Amazon:

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks Amanda, grateful for your insight. As you said, will also do an in-depth study on that.

      Is always great to study God’s word and know the truth. This topic is particularly interesting to me because I listen to a couple of preachers who believe in these teachings.

      Thanks for the resources and links too, would check them out. Grateful

      Like

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