Waynedale United Methodist Church
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

Nov 1, 2015 Sermon

 “Ezekiel: A Hero's Voice”
Ezekiel 37:1 – 14
Ted Jansen  November 1, 2015  Wayendale UMC
 
1.)        I found this coat of arms from my family history that dates back to 1609 in Norway.  It lists the different names who carried the family shield/coat of arms.  It lists their occupations and family line, down to me and my children. 
            We are in the biblical family line of Ezekiel, not by birth, but by heritage of our faith in the Almighty God.  What has he passed down to us from his life?  Let us consider his life and story. 
 
2.)        Ezekiel was a prophet that lived during two hard period of life for the nation of Israel.  The first period was the last years when the people were unfaithful to God.  The second period was when the Israelites were taken captive to Babylon after Jerusalem was destroyed.  Ezekiel was around during all of this history, a dark and depressing time.     
            Ezekiel spoke to the people about coming judgment and he spoke words of hope and restoration when life was bleak.   
            The first 24 chapters of this book are written about when Jerusalem was still a city.  The last chapters, 25 – 48, are written when the people are in Babylon.  You can discover words to fit both circumstances in the book.   
            This 37th chapter, we realize, is during a time when the Israelites are in Babylon. 
 
3.)        Ezekiel is led to a valley of bones, really dry bones, lots of bones, all over.  This is a low place, a place of desolation, a place of death and destruction, no hope and no life are found. This is a wasteland.   
            The Lord asks Ezekiel, as he sees all the dry bones, if the bones can live?  Ezekiel tells the Lord, “you alone know.”    
            Then the Lord tells Ezekiel to begin prophesying and preaching and speaking to the dry, dry bones in that valley and let them know that the Lord will bring life to them. 
            So, Ezekiel begins preaching and the bones start coming together.  Muscles, tendons, skin start forming over the bones.  Ezekiel must have been amazed. 
            The Lord told Ezekiel to preach some more and call the wind and the Spirit to bring breath to the bodies.  The breath came and these bodies all stood up.  They had life and breath in them. 
            God tells Ezekiel that these bones are like Israel who feel like they are cut off and without hope.  The promise from God is spoken when the Lord says, “I will put my Spirit in you and you will live…”  (Ezekiel 37:14)
 
4.)        As I read about Ezekiel three different aspects of his life highlight why he is a hero.  Ezekiel allowed the Lord to hold him.  (37:1)  Ezekiel spoke to a people who were without hope or life. (37:4, 9)  Ezekiel served in a challenging circumstance.  (37:11)  Let’s look at these aspects and how they relate to our life.   
 
5.)        Ezekiel allowed the Lord to hold him.  The NIV version of Ezekiel 37:1 says, “The hand of the Lord was upon me.”  The Living Translation says, “The Lord took hold of me.”  The Message Translation says, “God grabbed me.” 
            Ezekiel is being held by God, led by God embraced by God. God’s love holding on to Ezekiel.  God was blessing him, accepting him, treasuring him, and caring for him.  Ezekiel allowed God’s love surround him. 
 
6.)        God wants to hold us.  God’s Spirit wants us to know that we are loved and blessed. We need to know that we are created in the image of God and loved by God, even though we are sinners and fall short of God’s glory.
            Do you believe that God loves us as we are?  Life experiences, people around us, our successes, our failures, our struggles, and doubts affect the way we think about ourselves and God’s love for us.  We need God to hold us.  We might be confident or have low self-esteem but we never have enough of God’s love and grace. 
I believe that is one reason that Jesus expected us to remember Him and the love of God when we take Communion.  Communion is a time when we allow God to hold us. We don’t experience Christ in Communion once, but many times.  Let us allow God to hold us today.    
 
7.)        Ezekiel spoke to a people who were without hope or life.  God commanded Ezekiel two different times to speak, at first to the bones and then to the bodies.  “Prophecy to these bones and say to them, Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!  This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.  I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life.  Then you will know that I am the Lord.…  Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to it, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: come from the four winds, o breath and breathe into these slain, that they may live.”   (Ezekiel 37:4, 9)
            Preach to these bones!  That was an interesting invitation.    
 
8.)        God wants us to speak and share a word of hope to people who need it.  Can you remember a time when someone spoke or shared hope, life and grace to you?  God needs you to think of a person struggling with little hope. 
            There are people that have made bad decisions, there are people who are going through or have gone through a tough time.  There are people who have little hope or life in them.    
            We can speak words of hope and grace to them.  Who is a person that comes to mind?  Who can you make contact with today?  Find someone similar to your life situation and offer Christ’s life and light to them.    
 
9.)        Ezekiel served a challenging circumstance.  Ezekiel was in Jerusalem for a period of time and now he is in Babylon.  The Lord gives Ezekiel these words for Israel in verse 11.  “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.   They say, our bones are dried up and our hope is gone, we are cut off.” 
            Ezekiel’s presence and service in his role as a prophet was tough. He was a hero because he was obedient to the Lord in both situations, when Israel was at home and in exile.    
 
10.)      Your circumstances might be challenging.  Focus on God’s promise in the midst of your life.  When God’s Spirit comes inside a life and church life will occur, God’s life will come!    
            The Fruitful Congregation Team finished reading the book, “Bearing Fruit,” and it talks about measuring our life by the spiritual fruit we produce. 
            God expects us to produce spiritual fruit in our lives and in our church.  God has a purpose for us to be aware of regardless of our challenges. 
Bob Yager spoke a few weeks ago and reminded us that this is our time, this is our team, and we need to do our part for the Kingdom of God. 
Let us learn from Ezekiel and serve in these challenging days as we serve the people hope and life in the name of the Almighty God who can bring life back from dry bones!