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?’Ezekiel 37:1-6 (CSB)
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.’”
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 22:42)
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.Tweet
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.
Ezekiel 37 reveals truths we can learn about God’s ways and character. Nonetheless, this passage is not for us to use for our own personal desires or purposes, such as how some “declare and decree” success as in the false Word of Faith movement. Instead, Ezekiel 37 is a specific prophetic word meant for the nation of Israel to give them hope and knowledge of God’s promises for their future.
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)