Thursday 02 March 2017

Bible Book:

“And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act, says the LORD.” (vv. 13-14)

Ezekiel 37:1-14 Thursday 2 March 2017

Psalm: Psalm 118:1-9


This is Lent, a season of fasting and self-examination. Ourunderstanding of Lent is shaped by the account in the Gospels, ofJesus encountering temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). It's a story of barrenness,wasteland, and preparation for fruitful (albeit difficult) times tocome.

Ezekiel's vision is similar. He was a prophet in exile - one ofmany thousands of Israelites to have been forcibly removed fromtheir homeland by their Babylonian overlords. By the time of thisvision, Jerusalem had fallen, and the temple destroyed. These weredifficult, wilderness times. The exiles may not literally have beenfasting, but they were deprived of their home, culture and worship.Ezekiel, as a priest, must have felt the loss of the templeparticularly deeply.

In the midst of such wilderness, Ezekiel's vision was one ofhope. The time of exile would not be endless. God would act, andGod's people would be restored to fullness of life. Like the dry,long-dead bones coming together and being covered with sinews andskin, God's people would be brought back together, and be given thestructures and systems of their national life and worship.

But a reassembled body is not a living body, and so furtheraction of God was necessary, to bring breath. In the vision, thiscame through Ezekiel's prophecy to the winds (verse 9). The Hebrewword for 'breath' or 'wind' here isruach. This word is rich inmeaning; it can be translated 'breath', 'wind' or 'spirit'. Thebreath which entered the bodies, via the four winds, was symbolicof the Spirit of God which would enter the regathered people ofGod. What was promised was not just the structural restoration of anation, but that the nation would live again as God's covenantpeople, following God and remaining true to God's word.

As so often, the experience of wilderness or exile was a chanceto reflect on what had gone wrong in their faithfulness to God, achance to re-examine their national life, and, eventually, a chanceto begin again, renewed and revitalised.

To Ponder

  • Which parts of your life feel as though they are in thewilderness? How much potential can you find in that, or does itjust feel like barrenness?
  • How will you use the wilderness time of Lent to breathe newlife into your faith and discipleship?
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