All of us have been in the boneyard at some time, where we watched a dream die or something we loved and cherished come to an end. Hopes and expectations were shattered and we were reeling from the season of loss that we found ourselves in….
Ezekiel 37:1 “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. v2 He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. v3 He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” v4 Again He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.”
We would all love to live in the mountain top experiences, in a cloud of glory, but the truth is, we all must come down into the valley. To be more accurate, we spend more time in the valley than we do on the mountain top.
A couple of the most well known valleys in scripture are in Psalms, where the psalmist tells us “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.”
The other valley is Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones, where God is giving the people of Judah a look into the future. A look that says, no matter how hopeless it may seem, your future is full of hope, prosperity, victory and abundant life!
In these two valleys, God’s message is clear…. There is no condition, no situation or circumstance, where God’s power is limited or diminished by what we see or what we think…
In both of these valleys, there is a resounding message of resurrection and restoration.
We are never intended to just live on the mountain, because it is in the valleys that the work of God’s power is to be displayed in the daily izamsand schizims of life. It is in the valleys that we find the purpose for which we were made. The mountains bring us inspiration and charge our spiritual batteries, but the valleys build our character and present amazing opportunities for demonstrating God’s faithfulness.
While the mountains are usually bare and bleak when it comes to growing things, the valleys are where things flourish and abound.
We grow and flourish in the valleys. So then, I would submit that the spectacle of a valley filled with dry bones, and a valley called “the valley of the shadow of death” are really oxymorons or contradictions.
If things flourish and abound in the valleys, then God is telling us that whatever it may look like, (the shadow of death, or dry bones) it’s supposed to be flourishing. What I’m saying is that inspiration may come from the mountain tops, but the valleys were meant for abundance.
Your life may look like Ezekiel’s bone yard at times or like the shadow of death is hanging over everything…. But you need to stand and say “No, God does not intend for it to be this way, this valley was intended to be a flourishing place of abundance”.
RESTORATION AND ABUNDANCE, should be the norm, in the valley!
Ezekiel 37:7 “So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise , and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. v8 And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them. v9 Then He said to me, "Prophesy breath (RO-USH spirit wind), prophesy, son of man, and say to the (RO-USH) breath, 'Thus says the Lord God, "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.""'10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army”.
Impossibility was written all over this situation.
Though your faith is only the size of a mustard seed it can move and shake the mountains! One shall chase a thousand and two shall put 10,000 to flight… For, little is much when God is in it…. Despise not the day of small beginnings…. Little David said to Goliath, “You come against me with sword and shield, and this rock and sling aren’t much, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of Hosts, and He shall deliver you into my hands!....
It was in the valley, that David slew Goliath, and God delivered the enemy host into His hands….
The world isn’t waiting for a new definition of the Gospel, but a new demonstration of the way God says it’s supposed to be in all the valleys of our existence. Hear it…in Psalm 23.. come on David…. “In the valley You restore my soul”!!!
“You are with me, Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You have anointed my head with oil, My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the presence of the Lord forever”.
I love it when things get a little “noisy” at church services. But I don’t mistake commotion for consecration, rustlings for resurrection, volume for victory, shaking and trembling for restoration, or the rattling of bones for revival. It may be on it’s way, it may be coming because some things have to be shaken free first, but listen to the rest of Ezekiel’s story….
Ezekiel 37:7 “As Ezekiel prophesied over the bones, they began to rattle & stir. So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise , and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. v8 And I looked, and behold, tendons and ligaments were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them”.
The church altars didn’t reach out into the family life, the job place, the grocery store, and the market place…. The message preached, never was carried past the front of the church, and the parking lot…. The tears shed, did not flow for souls to be saved and lives to be transformed….. It was all there, but there was no Spiritual life, breath, passion, power, overflow…. And no “go ye” to their gospel….
I believe this dry bone valley is declaring to us that God delights in takingbroken, poured out and used up things and demonstrating how He can take it, blesse it and restore and resurrect it so that it is better than before.
He took the little boys lunch and broke it, blessed it and multiplied it gave out a miracle…. He took the poured out oil of the former prostitute who anointed his feet, and allowed her to preach the first resurrection message on Easter morning, (He is Risen)….. He took the broken pride and Ego of Peter, who had cursed and denied him and then filled him at Pentecost and he preached, as 5000 men plus women came to Christ…. He took a group of fearful, terrified disciples in a locked room, breathed on them and sent them out to reach the world with the gospel….(and they did a pretty good job)
LORD DO IT AGAIN, AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN!!!
God gives us hope in the dry bone valley…… Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”.
If you study the great history of revivals, you will discover that in the beginning of every great revival, there were deep moves of repentanceand consecration.
It was so in the revival of George Whitfield in his day. It was so in the revival of the Wesleys in their day. It was so in the great Welsh revival as Evan Roberts preached throughout Wales…. It was so in the mighty revival which flowed out of California called the Azusa street revival…. The Cane Ridge revival in Kentucky, led by Barton Stone…. the Rodney Howard Brown revival from South Africa… and the modern day Pensacola revival with John Kilpatrick….. all were preceded sometimes by years of intercession and deep repentance…..
When you begin to see waves of repentance and folks drawn together in intercessory prayer across racial, denominational and cultural lines, then know that revival is upon us!
Ezekiel’s prophecy is 2 pronged. It was initially addressed to the nation of Israel in captivity but there is a broader meaning for all of us. Israel wasthe dry bones spread across the valley…. In every sense in the natural, the nation was dead, they were over, done with, KAPUT! It would be an impossibility for them to ever live again. National life was gone, their authority was stripped from them…. Oh, yes, there is one word that made all the difference….
They were covenant people. They had a covenant with God. Even though all hope was gone, and they were dead as a nation…. God saw them through a covenant agreement. They may have given up, but He never did or will!!!
Friend, when you can’t stand on anything else, STAND ON COVENANT…. When faith is gone and hope is zero, STAND ON COVENANT… When it all looks dead and over, YOU CAN STAND ON COVENANT…. God has a covenant with us for revival….
When Noah entered the ark, it was about covenant and that beautiful rainbow God put up in the sky was His covenant signature..
Genesis 9:9 “Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you. “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations”.
When Abraham had no children, he had covenant (scripture says his body and Sarah’s body were dead) yet he dared to believe that he would be the “father of many nations” and his descendants would find a city whose builder and maker was God…. Genesis 17:7 “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, I will be God to you and to your descendants after you. v11 Andyou shall be circumcised in the flesh, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you”.
If you saw someone having a conversation with a skeleton, you might think he’s on drugs, drunk, or needs some time at the funny farm…. But God tells us to preach and prophesy to SKELETONS….. Some of you talk to your spouse, your kids, your co-worker, to your finances, your health, or to your situation in life, and it’s like talking to a skeleton!
Ezekiel was prophesying to folks who WERE DEAD….. THAT’S D….E…..A…..D!!!!! DEAD, Pushing up daisies, expired, done, overwith!!!
Our Covenant mandate given us from God, is to Speak life into dead things. Speaking the God breathed word. What Ezekiel discovered is that … the word of God we speak and prophesy with, that we declare and decree with…
contains the very “RO-ASH” or breath of God… That breath can do what you could never do….
That spirit breath went into a blind man’s eyes, and he saw, in Mark 10:46….. That spirit breath went into a leper and he was cleansed, inMark 1:40….. It went into a man who had not walked for 38 years and he walked, in John 5:5…
God’s covenant will bring things together that could not connect, it will arrange things that were far beyond you, it will flesh out things where you gave up and left off….. It will start new things in a new direction and a new way! It will put flesh on your skeletons….
Revival will come when God’s people are willing to become surrendered channels and conduits of His glory!!!
When revival comes, Christians will get a new love and excitement for God’s Word. When revival comes God’s people will get a new spirit of prayer.
When revival comes, Christians will get a fresh passion for lost souls.
When revival comes, Christians will live in the joy of the Lord.
The word “revival” is not found in the Bible. The Hebrew word for “revive” is found some 235 times in the Bible. In the New Testament the word for “revive” is found only 5 times. The word “revive” is translated in Both the Old and The New Testaments to mean “to return to life or vitality”.
Let me amaze you with a truth that amazed me, about the great awakening in England….Charles and John Wesley along with George Whitfield were three Greek students at Oxford university who began to study the term, “born again.” They began preaching and sharing what “born again” meant. The churches did not want them.
George Whitefield went to Kingswood, a coal mining town. Coal miners, were mean spirited, hard men and bitter drunks who lived a hard life. No church was there so, Whitefield stood on a mound of coal and preached. 200 stopped and listened and when he finished, he didn’t know what to do next, so he just said he would be back on Wednesday.
On Wednesday 2,000 were waiting. He Preached again and again he didn’t know what to do next, so he said he would be back on Friday. On Friday 5,000 were waiting. He told them that Jesus loved them and that he had experienced this new birth and was saved. He told them if they would repent Jesus would save them. He said he would be back on Sunday and 10,000 were waiting to hear the rest of the story. There was absolute silence. Even the dogs were quite. Trees were filled with people. He began to preach and was startled when tears began to flow down their coal-blacked faces. They all received Christ, and this was considered the beginning of the Great Awakening revival in England, which then spread to America.
Charles Wesley went to Newgate Prison, where the same revival visitation took place among the prisoners there. John Wesley took a church and it started the Methodist movement, which was powered in those days by a Pentecostal experience…
What I think is so marvelous about this, is that these guys didn’t even know how to lead someone to Christ, but the Holy Spirit worked and moved through their simple obedience and passion, to touch tens of thousands for Christ, and usher in revival all over the nation of England.
God brought revival to Nineveh through a rebellious preacher who was angry at God for interrupting his plans and telling him to go to Nineveh. If most people in rebellion against God had been barfed up on the beach after being in the belly of a whale, they might have made the late night TV circuit with the “Whale of a tale” interviews….. or launched a reality show, or start a church called the “Whale Deliverance Center”… or maybe start a water theme park called “Jonah’s World” …. I mean, there were plenty of opportunities to get fame and fortune out of this…. But listen to what Jonah did….
Jonah 3:1-2 “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
OK, OK, I GET IT LORD, I NEED TO STOP RUNNING AND JUST OBEY! But here’s the kicker, Jonah preached and then sat down and expected no results, and no response. As a matter of fact, he got angry because these wicked people were visited by God…. Revival hit Nineveh and EVERYONE GOT SAVED, FROM THE KING ON DOWN!!!!
HEY, GOD WANTS TO SEND REVIVAL, MORE THAN WE WANT REVIVAL….. WOW!
The porch light is always on in the Father’s house. He is always ready to welcome the prodigal son home.
Look at some things that we and Jonah learned through all of this….
1.God doesn’t negotiate… He could have used anyone, but He chose Jonah….
2.God wasn’t just reaching Nineveh, he used Nineveh to reach Jonah…
3.God didn’t need Jonah nearly as much as Jonah needed God.’
4.Little is much when God is in it.
5.God never quits when it comes to revival and changed lives…
6.God wants to save entire cities still today….
Now, listen, You’ve got to hear the entire message which Jonah preached!! … It must have been powerful, eloquent, compelling and brilliant…..RIGHT??
OK, here it is…
Jonah 3:4 “Forty more days and Nineveh will be DESTROYED” ……EIGHT WORDS!!…. No pleading, no being careful not to offend anyone, No emphasis on love, grace, mercy….. JUST “FORTY MORE DAYS AND NINEVEH WILL BE DESTROYED”….
And in spite of the fact that no one knew this man, he had a strange accent, and he had the strong smell of fish, 600,000 people, repented and turned away from their idols and wickedness and turned to God! (He said what God said)
Here’s what God wants us to know out of this, HE CAN USE ANY ONE OF US TO INAUGERATE A SOUL SEARCHING, SPIRIT BIRTHED, LIFE TRANSFORMING REVIVAL….. (CAN YOU SPEAK 8 WORDS?) YOU’RE HIRED!
I heard of this one young man who got a burden to see folks saved, so he just went out and started knocking on doors. The problem was that he stuttered very badly. So it went like…. HHHiiiiii, iiiiimmm, JJJJohnnyy. JJJeesssuuuss lllllovvvess yyyoooouu. wwwwoulldd yyyoooouu llllliiiiikketttooo rrrreccceiiivve hhhhhimm aaaaas yyyyyyourrrrr Sssaavviorrrr?
The pastor started seeing all these new people in church, and started asking how they happened to come. They told him that Johnny came to their door and asked them if they wanted to be saved, and they quickly accepted before he had a chance to say much more, and he gave them the church card and they promised to come if he would just finish his presentation. Can anyone here dddddooooo at lllleassttt as good as Johnny?!!!!!
Anyway, the king of Nineveh upon hearing this eight word sermon, sent out a proclamation throughout the city, which went to every person in Nineveh….listen to what the proclamation said….
“Let us seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near, let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon”. (This is a heathen king and yet his words are inspired of God)
Remember that Nineveh is one of the major cities of it’s day and the capital of the Syrian empire….
This account would be equivalent to, let’s say . . .Everyone in Tokyo believing in God. Everyone in Singapore repenting. Everyone in San Francisco becoming a Christian. Or maybe we should say it this way:
Cleveland turning to the Lord. Boston getting right with God. The whole city of Miami getting saved and becoming a center for the gospel!
It’s phenomenal, unbelievable, incredible…..And yet it happened.
Look at what Luke says about this, in Luke 11:32 “The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here”.
Many that God has used have come and gone and their voices are silent. And now, God is asking us, you and me…. Will you go, will you speak, will you tell them.
Isaiah 6:8 “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then said I, “Here am I. Lord, Send me!”
Do we still truly believe that God can reach the unreachable?
Do we still truly believe that God can do the impossible?
Do we look around us and see how bad things are and say, “It’s hopeless"?
Or do we say, “God still loves Nineveh”!
Jesus still touches the untouchable.
Jesus still reaches the unreachable.
An agnostic college professor visited the FiJi Islands and he remarked to the elderly chief who had become a Christian, "You're a great leader chief, but it's a pity you've been taken in by these foreign missionaries. They only want to use you as a statistic for their annual reports. No one believes the Bible anymore. People are tired of the fictitious story of Jesus Christ dying on a cross for the sins of mankind, we all know better now. I'm sorry you've been so foolish as to accept their story." The old chief's eyes flashed as he said "see that great rock over there? In that very place we once smashed the heads of our victims. Notice the furnace next to it? In that oven we once roasted the bodies of our enemies. If it hadn't been for those good missionaries and the love of Jesus that changed us from cannibals into Christians, you'd be our supper by now! You'd better thank the Lord for the Gospel; otherwise we'd already be feasting on you”. But revival came to a nation of head hunters and cannibals!!!
When all else fails, folks will know that God never fails…. And God knows that there are many who have tried everything and everything has failed to solve the problem, and has not given them the peace they long for…
I think of a school not long ago which posted a little sign outside a principal's office that read "In the event of a terrorist attack, a fire, or earthquake, the ban on prayer is temporarily lifted!"
THAT’S A CRY FOR REVIVAL, NO MATTER HOW WEAK IT MAY SOUND!!!!
When true revival shows up, the words of John the Baptist will be it’swatch words….John 3:30 “He must increase and I must decrease”.
When the wells of prayer and intercession are dug, the living river will flow, and the water will spring up in the most unlikely places…. And in amazing ways.
There have been great and transforming revivals but the world is about to have the greatest revival ever known, because all the mantles of previous revivals are about to fall on this generation, and it will usher in the appearing of the Lord in the clouds of heaven. We’re not going out with a whimper, we’re leaving here in the mighty roar of revival!
There are leaders that don’t even know it yet. There are workers of signs and wonders and miracles that don’t know it yet. There are prophetic voices that will shake the heavens and the earth, and they haven’t even been saved yet !!!
We have God’s covenant about this in Joel 2:28 “In the last days, It will come to pass, that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind (this is a global outpouring) And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. v29 “Even on the lowest and poorest, I will pour out My Spirit in those days”.
The master of ceremonies at the wedding feast where Jesus turned the water into wine, said "You have saved the best wine until last!" The greatest healings and miraculous acts of God are yet to come, in greater and greater measure. Multitudes of young and old will be summoned forth by the Spirit to demonstrate God’s power through signs and wonders and miracles. Heaven will be open and under this open heaven, a move of God like never seen before will transform millions who will also be sent forth.
And the Presence of the Holy Spirit will be seen in our midst at a level we have never experienced.
We don’t want to watch it happen we want to be part of what happens… We don’t want to dangle our feet in the river, we want to plunge in and swim in it’s current!
POUR IT OUT, LORD, POUR IT OUT!
DO IT AGAIN, AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN!!
Song…. (There is a river)…. “There is a river, that flows from deep within,
There is a fountain, that frees the soul from sin, Come to this water, there is a vast supply. There is a river, that never shall run dry…