Ezekiel 37:14. I will put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live. A moral resurrection shall pass upon the people of Israel; the Lord shall “bring them up out of their graves,” where they have long been buried in unbelief, and quicken those who were dead in trespasses and sins. By his Spirit he will illuminate the understanding, renew and sanctify the heart, and build them up a holy temple for the Lord.
Ezekiel 37:19. I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim— with the stick of Judah—and they shall be one in my hand. Some critics make much to do about the ten lost tribes. My opinion is, that there are no such tribes in existence, because they were reduced so low by various wars as to be able to bring into the field against the Syrians only seven thousand infantry, and about two hundred and thirty cavalry. Many of the captives being intermarried with the heathen, they were again planted in Samaria; and those of the ten tribes who were more pure, united themselves with Judah under Zerubbabel. Thus excepting the Samaritans, whom we find excommunicated, John 4., the two sticks literally became one. Dr. Buchanan found a town of jews in India, who had lost their colour. A nation of white Indians is found on the southern shore of the Missouri. Both the Welsh and the Jews are solicitous to know more of their language, their manners and customs.
Ezekiel 37:24. And David my servant shall be king over them, as is illustrated in chap. 34.
Between the mount of Olives and Jerusalem was the valley of the son of Hinnom, or of striking children; called also the valley of Tophet or drums, which were employed to deafen the cries of the infants burnt to Moloch. In this valley the angel slew the hundred and eighty five thousand Assyrians, for which reason it is called the valley of dead bodies. Jeremiah 31:40. Here Solomon, having superinduced a premature dotage by an excess of connubial indulgence, built a high place to the abomination of Moab, and another to the abomination of Ammon. 1 Kings 11:7. Here Judah were ensnared by habitual idolatry, and forfeited the covenant protection of the Lord. Hence they are repeatedly menaced, that in this valley God would purge their pollutions with the blood of their sons and daughters; for the Chaldeans had no pity on the young man, or the maiden; on the sucking child, or him that stooped for age. 2 Chronicles 36. Hence also Ezekiel, from the prodigies of death and slaughter in this tragic valley and field, seems to have conceived the idea of a valley full of dry bones; and in a moral view, to have transferred the idea to the parched and desponding situation of his brethren in captivity. But they were revived as with a resurrection from the dead by his ministry, and by the proclamations of the Persians for their restoration. Prophecy and promise, when embraced by faith, have the happy effects of diminishing present sufferings, and of anticipating future salvation.
With these views the hand of the Lord was on the prophet, which seemed to reach him from under the wing of the cherub, and he was carried out by the Spirit, not in reverie of thought, but in the visions of God. He walked through the dreadful field where the remains of human nature laid profuse as the leaves of autumn; where the prince and the peasant reposed undisturbed by rank, and where the whitened bones of inveterate foes were strewed in friendly society. Here the fond hope of innumerable houses had fallen without having power to utter their bleeding anguish in the ear of parent or of love. Oh cursed effects of war, to hurry a host into eternity in the fury of passion, and the career of vengeance.
After viewing the tragic field, Ezekiel seemed to stand on the rising ground, crying, Oh ye dry bones, hear ye the word of the Lord! And crying in the Spirit of Him who said to the chaos, Let there be light, behold the slumbering world awoke. Every bone found his fellow, the ligaments united the frame, terminating in muscles of flesh, which gave form and figure to man. An infinitude of rivers and rivulets intersected the little world. Skin of the finest texture and vermilion tints on the youthful cheeks, gave a covering to the whole; but there was no breath in them. Then turning his views to heaven, that the Father of spirits would finish the work he had begun, he implored life from the living God, and Israel lived, and returned to Zion, an army of the Lord of hosts. Now as Christ often improved his miracles by a spiritual turn of thought, so we may improve this astonishing restoration of the jews, to illustrate the conversion of sinners.
Man in his fallen state is dead in trespasses and sins, he has lost the life of God. He is dry and parched, for in his flesh dwelleth no good thing. He has lain a long time in that most piteous situation, so that he is not only dry, but with man there is no hope of his conversion. The calamity is not solitary, but universal: behold there were very many in the open valley.
To raise and recover fallen man, ministers must not only be impelled with the spirit of faith and love, but they must mix among the wicked, as the physicians with the sick. We may stay in our closets learning our Master’s wisdom till we neglect to do our Master’s work. We must mix among the dry bones, watch their passions, trace their habits, and learn their evasions of conscience, and of the gospel.
Ministers thus acquainted with their mission must cry aloud in the power of the Spirit. Oh ye dry bones, ye dead and lifeless souls, hear ye the word of the Lord: and when ministers preach, and the people pray in the spirit, a degree of the same power still attends the word as when God created the universe. Through faith we know that the worlds were framed by the word of God; and by the same word a new and spiritual world is called into existence. The deaf are made to hear, the blind open their eyes, the slumbering conscience awakes with the pungency of returning life. Alarm and terror seize the guilty.
Now the silence of conviction reigns in the assembly, next the noise and shaking follow, and the cry, what must I do to be saved? What a noise; what a shaking; what a conflict to shun hell, and to gain heaven.
The awakened passions, having for a time occasioned tumult and terror in the soul, are composed by the seasonable and consoling application of the promises. Behold, saith the Lord, I will lay sinews and flesh upon you, and will cover your skin. I will pardon all your sins, I will cleanse and sanctify your nature, I will open your graves of darkness and corruption, will quicken you to an immortal life, and restore you to the bosom of Zion, the habitation of my holiness. Here perturbation settles into the calm and sweetness of genuine repentance. The soul relying on the promises, brings forth all the fruits of reformation, and seeks the Lord in all the appointed means of grace. The dry bones at first resumed the appearance of men wanting life; and the awakened sinner has the form of godliness, but wants the witness of God’s converting love shed abroad in his heart. Romans 5:5.
When ministers succeed in promoting a law-work on the mind, always in due time mixing comfort with terror, they must turn their eyes to heaven, and become advocates and intercessors for the promised Comforter to descend on a contrite people. Come from the four winds, oh breath, as on the day of Pentecost, and breathe upon these slain that they may live. Our sermons have too much of the didactic: we divide, explain, and teach. We dwell on words and truths already understood. But after setting good things before an audience, why may we not assist piety in uttering the wishes of their heart to obtain them? The frequent prayers which St. Paul mixes with his discourses, are the most pathetic and touching parts of his writings.
After the restoration of Israel, Ezekiel launches forth into the latter day glory, when David should be their king, and all divisions healed: and he enlarges on this subject throughout all the succeeding chapters. The christian who doubts of a glorious time expected in the earth, goes, however undesignedly, more than half way to meet the infidel world. We do assuredly expect the times of restitution, Acts 3:21; when religious sects will be so taken up, and elated with the glory of Christ, as to forego the badges of peculiarity and distinction.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 37". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany