27 July 2011

"So I prophesied as I had been commanded" (v. 7)


Following directly on from yesterday's passage, Ezekiel speaks the prophetic word, he shares in God's restoring action and the bodies are reconstituted. However "there was no breath in them" (v. 8).

The Hebrew word for "breath" is the same word for wind or spirit. In verse 5 God speaks of "breath" entering them and this is picked up in verses 9 and 10. The concept of the breath (the wind, the spirit) is an ancient one in Israelite thought which understood the mystery of life to have two fundamental aspects, that of the created world that is only kept alive by the constant pouring out of the breath of life from God (eg Psalm 104:29-30). It is this same breath/spirit that has been at work within Ezekiel 'lifting' him up and enabling him to fulfil God's mission (see Ezekiel 2:23:12;11:5).

As "there was no breath in them" (v. 7), an ongoing participation is required so Ezekiel is again invited to speak the divine word (verse 9) and as a result "the breath came into them, and they lived" (v. 10). The inbreathing of divine grace brings life and new possibilities to what was a scene of total devastation and utter lifelessness. Yet in the ways and purposes of God that grace invites human participation - it is Ezekiel who is asked to prophesy and to speak God's word into the situation and to call upon the "breath". This is God's modus operandi (way of working).

To Ponder

If you are able, recall other examples from either the Old Testament or in the ministry of Jesus in the New Testament of God inviting 'mortals' to participate in the divine work.

Recall examples of where you have seen the activity of God in the life of either your community or a situation you know.

What is God inviting you to participate in?

Bible notes author: The Revd Peter Barber

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