Dem Bones 

Ezekiel 37:11
“Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!'””

Ezekiel was taken in the Spirit to a valley full of skeletons. I am sure the sight itself was quite shocking, but what happened next must have been truly overwhelming. The angel asked Ezekiel if these bones could live. The obvious answer is no. When a person has been under water too long and their heartbeat has stopped there remains a slight chance of resuscitation. When a person has been dead so long that all that remains is a pile of bones, they are way past ‘mostly dead’, and no hope remains of them coming back to life. I am sure my answer would have been “No Way!” Ezekiel, however, had seen God do some pretty amazing things, so he did not discount even the possibility of these bones coming back to life. Sure enough, as he stood by, the bones came together; muscle, organs, skin and finally life was added. What had been a graveyard was now a valley filled with life.

This is a graphic picture of the work God alone can do. This passage has often been used to illustrate the work of salvation. When a person comes to Christ a miracle no less amazing than adding life to dead bones takes place. While there are many similarities between conversion and this event, the real meaning behind it is God’s promise to restore the nation of Israel; it had been divided, conquered and scattered. While this event transpired, Israel remained captive in Babylon. However, in a few short decades Cyrus, King of Persian, would issue a decree allowing the Jews to return to their homeland. In a minor way, that event fulfilled this prophecy, but the promises looked way beyond ancient times into the future. God promised the nation would be restored and the Messiah would sit on the throne of Israel and reign. He promised these would be end times events.

After two thousand years without a homeland, Israel returned to occupy the Promised Land. This event was the precursor to Ezekiel’s promise. Soon, Jesus Christ will return to set up His kingdom. The fact that Israel occupies the land today should stir our hearts to live in expectancy of His return.

Pastor Jim

 

Preach The Gospel

Mark 16:15
“Go into all the world and preach the Gospel . . .”

imagePaul explained to the Corinthian church the simplicity of the Gospel message. He stated that Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose again on the third day; all according to the Scriptures. That was the message the first believers declared to their world. They went into their homes, streets, marketplaces, schools and places of business, declaring the Son of God died for our sins and rose from the dead.

Mary carries the honor of being the first to declare this wonderful news. Upon arriving at the empty tomb she was told,

“You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. HE IS RISEN!”

She responded by running to tell the other disciples. Since Jesus had declared He would rise again, it seems they would hear this wonderful news and rejoice together. Jesus is alive! Instead, we read, they did not believe her. What would cause these men to doubt the Word of God, and the testimony of Mary? I think perhaps, it was the difficulty of their circumstances. They were allowing their difficulty to cloud their view of God, instead of allowing the Word of God to shed light on their situation. This is a common occurrence. We have all been guilty of the same struggle. We look to our hardship, and it casts a shadow of doubt upon the promises of God.

Later that night, the church gathered together. There has been, and always will be, comfort in meeting together with friends in times of hardship. It is worth noting what happens when Jesus shows up. He does two remarkable things. First, He rebukes them for their unbelief. While He is our compassionate High Priest who understands our weakness, He also expects us to lay hold of the promises of God, and live by them. Second, He commands them to go tell the world. I am convinced there is a connection here. When we let our circumstances cloud the promises of God, we fail to share those promises. Also, when we share those promises, it shows we truly believe.

These guys heard from Mary that Jesus was alive. They found this to be true, as they went out into the world and declared the Gospel. When filled with fear, they stood before a crowd and shared Christ, He showed up and people were saved. When they met the needy, the blind, lame, and sick, they prayed for them; He showed up, and they were healed. Often we question whether Jesus really is alive from the dead. I think we will find our answer as we go into the entire world and preach the gospel.

Pastor Jim