Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Bone Field

The graveyard behind the Church of the Holy Rood in
Stirling, Scotland
     At present, if I were to describe the appearance of our home, I would have to call it a bone field.  We have been taking care of our "grand dog" for our son since September.  Being a puppy (he has since turned 1), he loves to chew everything in sight.  So, we got him a large number of  beef bones that he can safely chew.  The problem is he has many of them and even though we put them away in his toy box at night, he drags every one of them out and chews a little on each one throughout the day.  It is better than chewing our shoes and other belongings but honestly, it looks as though a large cow died in our house.
     As I was talking with my husband about the large number of bones scattered about, I started recalling another bone field in my mind.  In the book of Ezekiel the prophet, we read in Chapter 37 verses 1-14 about a vision that Ezekiel had.  The prophet recounts that in the spirit the Lord led him to a valley of dry bones and asked him if these bones could live again.  Ezekiel said that only the Lord would know that.  God instructed him to prophesy over the bones and they would come together and live again.  Indeed, in this vision, as Ezekiel did what the Lord commanded, the bones rose up and came together a "vast army".  Then the Lord concludes with these words to the prophet:  "Then He said to me, 'Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.  Behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.'  Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God:  Behold, 'I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people.  And I will bring you into the land of Israel.  And 'you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land.  Then you shall know that I am the Lord;  I have spoken and I will do it, declares the Lord."  Indeed, God did just as He said He would.  He returned His people to the land from which they were taken.  However, there is a greater implication for this story.
     Just like the field of dead men's bones that Ezekiel saw in his vision, we are all dead in our trespasses and sins.  We are in exile from God because we are sinners from birth.  The Bible says, "There are none righteous, no not one." (Romans 3:10)  If we do not believe this, all we have to do is pick up the newspaper every day to see the acts of sinful men and women.  Like the Children of Israel we have no hope for a better future because even all the government programs, laws and leaders cannot fill the empty void in our life that only Christ can fill.
     In this passage of Scripture which shows us the continuity of the Bible from Old to New Testament, we have a picture of what happens when God breathes life into our old dry bones.  He calls us to Himself.  There is nothing we can do to save ourselves any more than those dead dry bones in the field could raise themselves up.  God spoke and the bones came to life.  When God draws us by His Spirit, we awaken from the death grip of sin.  Then, we can come to Him in sincere repentance as we see our filthy rags of sin and empty life.  He raises us from death to life...the new life in Christ who becomes our Lord and Savior.  As God returned Israel to their land, He returns us to a right relationship with Himself through the blood of Jesus Christ.
     Today is Ash Wednesday the beginning of Lent for Christians.  It is a forty day time of reflection, prayer, fasting, and renewal as we prepare for holy week when Christ was betrayed, crucified and buried for our sins.  Then, on Easter, we celebrate His resurrection which is a promise to all who believe in Him.  Like Christ, we will be raised again from death...not just spiritually but physically.  We will have a new body that will never decay, become sick or die.  All the bondage of our current physical shortcomings will be gone.  This is good news!
     What Ezekiel saw in the Spirit not only foreshadowed the return of the Children of Israel to their land but also foreshadowed the resurrection to life in Christ.  Even as believers, we often return to the bone field where life is dry and hopeless, but we do not need to stay there.  God has given us His Spirit, His breath of life and we have only to call upon Him in repentance to return again to a fresh new start.  Praise God for His mercy and salvation!
A stained glass window in the Church of the Holy Rood
Stirling, Scotland
     If you are reading this and have never committed your life to Christ, I challenge you to leave that old bone field and come into real life that is abundant and grace filled.  You will never be the same.  If you are a believer reading this who has fallen and stumbled back into sin, you need not stay there.  God has given you the privilege of coming to Him in confession and He will forgive you.
     Picking up those dog bones every evening reminds me that I don't live in that bone field any more.  I am a new creation in Christ.  He isn't finished with me yet, but I rest in Him to complete that which He has begun in me.  You have that hope too if you belong to Him.  The best news is that we don't have to stay in a bone field any more!  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts and comments as always.  They are an encouragement to me and others.

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