Ezekiel 37:9-10 - Breath Came and They Lived.
Ezekiel prophesied to the dry bones as he was commanded and the dry bones rattled together. God laid sinews on them, flesh came upon them, and skin covered them, and then came the Spirit.
[Ezekiel 37:9-10] "Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army," (ESV).
Before, Ezekiel was told to prophesy or speak forth God’s word to the dry bones, but in v. 9 God commanded Ezekiel to prophesy to the breath, i.e., to the Holy Spirit of God.
The same Hebrew word is translated in this passage as wind, breath, or Spirit, depending on the context. In keeping with the imagery of the dead being brought back to life, the word used in vv. 9-10 is breath, but it’s clear from the whole passage that what is being referred to is the Holy Spirit of God. As God says in v. 14, “I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live...”
The question is, why would God command Ezekiel to prophesy to the Spirit of God?
The answer is that God is commanding Ezekiel to pray, and his prayer was, “Come from the four winds, O Spirit, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”
The Spirit of God works through the Word of God to reveal Christ, so we must pray and ask God to do his work through his Word!
But specifically Ezekiel was commanded to speak forth the word of God to the Spirit, which is to say that he was to remind God of his Word in prayer.
Why do we need to remind God of his word in prayer? Does God forget what he said so that he needs us to remind him?
Of course not. If you read through the Bible, you’ll see that it sometimes (Gen. 8:1; Exod. 2:24; Ps. 98:3; Num. 10:9; Acts 10:31; Rev. 16:19, etc.) says, “God remembered...”
In Genesis 8:1, “God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark.” In Exodus 2:24 God heard the groaning of his people trapped in slavery, and he “remembered his covenant” with them.God didn’t forget Noah and the ark. He didn’t forget his people trapped in slavery. No, when the Bible says that God remembered, it means that God is about to act or was already acting for the good of his people.
So in Genesis 8:1, “God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.” In Exodus 2:24 God heard the cries of his enslaved people, remembered his covenant, and called Moses to led his people out of Egypt (cf. Exod. 3).
We remind God of his word in prayer, not because he has forgotten, but because we are calling on him to act according to his Word, which he loves to do! We are calling on him to do what only he can do - to bring the dead back to life through faith in Christ!
The Holy Spirit’s joy is to shine the light on Christ. And it should be our joy to call the Holy Spirit to do just that by speaking forth the Word of God to the Spirit.
For example, we could remind the Spirit of John 6:63: "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life."
So if we reminded the Spirit of that verse, it might sound like this: O Spirit who gives life, remind me and make plain to every lost sinner that the flesh is no help at all in salvation. We cannot earn salvation with good works done in the flesh. We cannot inherit salvation because we might come from a long line of faithful Christians. Only the words of Christ, the words of God, are spirit and life. O Spirit who gives life, confirm me in the life-giving word of God and reveal it to every soul still unsaved. It’s in the Name of Jesus I pray, Amen.
Or take Titus 3:5-6 as another example: "he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior..."
Father, you have saved us, not because we earned it by doing good, but because you are merciful. You have washed in the regenerating water of your word and you have renewed us by your life-giving Holy Spirit, whom you have poured out on us not sparingly but richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. Father, do that same saving work that only you can do in the hearts of anyone still unsaved here this morning. It’s in the Name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
We must pray like that using all of God’s Word to call on him to move in the hearts of the unsaved. If God’s Spirit doesn’t move in the hearts of the unsaved, they will not see how glorious a Savior Jesus is!
If God’s Spirit doesn’t move in the hearts of the unsaved, then they will not see just how desperate for Jesus they really are.
You see, sinful man before holy God is not just incapacitated. He is DEAD! And he is not just recently-dead; not even he-stinketh-like-Lazarus dead. He is dust-in-the-lungs dead! He is skin-and-flesh-and-sinews rotted away dead! He is bones-dried-and-bleached by the sun dead! He is absolutely-no-hope-of-life dead! That’s the what the Spirit showed Ezekiel in v. 2.
The Spirit took Ezekiel on a thorough tour of the price for sin, which is death. In v. 10, when these dry bones are raised to life, they are referred to as “an exceedingly great army.” The picture then of the dry bones in the valley is the picture of a great army slain and left to rot in the sun for so long that nothing remains but bleached bones. That’s how defeated; that’s how dead this army is.
But if the dry bones are God’s people as v. 11 says, then the exceedingly great army in v. 10 is God’s people, and that means the army slain and left to rot in v. 2 is God’s people. I know that’s obvious, but here’s why I bring it up...
Who defeated and left God’s people dead in that valley? Was it Assyria? Babylon?
Assyria and Babylon were just rods of discipline in the hand of God. God’s people in their sin against him had gone to war with God. It was God who demanded their life for their sin. And it was God who graciously provided resurrection from the dead.
You see, apart from the Spirit working through the Word of God, sinful man doesn’t even know he’s at war with God! He doesn’t know he’s dead in his sins and trespasses against God!
Apart from the Spirit working through the Word, sinful man doesn’t know that God has graciously provided resurrection from the dead through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!
This is why we must pray and remind the Spirit of God’s Word, calling on God to act according to his Word in the hearts of our lost loved-ones!
We must take God’s Word to God and ask God act according to his Word in our community, in our own church, and in our own hearts!
Oh Brothers and Sisters, if we would see the lost saved, then we must speak forth God’s Word to the lost (i.e., we must preach!)! And if we would see the lost saved, then we must speak forth God’s Word to God (i.e., we must pray!)!