The resurrection of Israel is vividly portrayed through the
metaphor of dry bones resting in the valley. The question
raised by the prophet in Ezekiel 37:1-14, is “Can These
A glimpse of the historical setting for this prophecy is found
in 2 Kings 24-25. Because of the evil of Jerusalem and Judah,
God cast them out of his presence in the 11th year of
King Zedekiah’s reign.
The Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzer encamped the city
and built a siege wall around it holding the people hostage in
for almost 2 years.
This created a severe famine leaving the people locked up
in the city without food. In a desperate attempt to escape,
King Zedekiah and his army broke through a wall and fled
through a hole to the plains of Jericho. They were pursued
and overtaken by Nebuchadnezzar’s army and scattered.
Nebuchadnezzar killed the sons of King Zedekiah before
his face, then put out his eyes and carried him fettered
to Babylon. In the following month, the temple was
burned and the people were carried into Babylonian
Cast out of God’s presence, Jerusalem and Judah were
dead. The plains of Jericho had been the scene where
Zedekiah’s army was defeated.
The deportation of the people perhaps caused many of the
bodies to be left in the open valley, exposed to vultures
and the sun where their bones were bleached dry.
God gives the prophet a vision of dry bones lying in the
valley. He asks can these live? Under normal conditions
the answer would be no. However, God requests Ezekiel
to prophesy to the bones. They begin to rattle and come
together with their flesh and skin.
However, there was no life in them. Ezekiel is told to
prophesy again to the wind and upon doing so, the breath
of life enters the lifeless bodies and they live.
The Meaning of the Dry Bones
The dry bones represented the whole house of Israel.
Metaphorically speaking, Israel’s bones were dry. Their
hope was lost. They were cut off from God who is the
hope of Israel, (Acts 28:14; Col. 1:27).
Israel receives life when they return to God in repentance,
and are reunited in his presence. It is then that he would
open up their graves, and bring them into the land of Israel.
While this prophecy may no doubt have served to give
the captives hope, the scope transcended their physical
captivity and deliverance to something of much weightier
We commented in other studies on the work and role of
the Holy Spirit and Israel’s new birth mentioned in the
last chapter, (36:24-28). This sets the time of the true
fulfillment beyond the ancient history of the nation to
the time of the apostles, (John 3:7).
The fulfillment begins with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
on Pentecost in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, (2:28-30,
Speaking of their future restoration to God through Christ,
Isaiah prophesies, “Your dead shall live, together with my
dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell
in the dust, for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the
earth shall cast out the dead. (Isaiah 26:19)
Like the dew that falls upon the earth, providing moisture
to seeds that sprout and grow, God is the dew of Israel,
causing them to rise from the dust, a figurative term
denoting their unredeemed fallen state.
Daniel says the prophecy of Israel’s resurrection takes place
in the time of the end, Daniel 12:1-4. Compare 12:1 and
Matthew 24:21. Israel’s resurrection follows the great
tribulation spoken of as the time of travail upon a woman,
with child, (Isaiah 26:16-18)
We have shown the land promise being fulfilled metaphorically
in Christ. It does not refer to the geographical Palestine.
Israel’s hope for resurrection is carried through the New
Testament, (John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:14, 15; 26:6-8;
Romans 13:11, 12; 2 Cor. 5:5).
Israel’s graves are opened when God delivers them from
the bondage of sin to which they were held captive through
the law. (Romans 7:4-6; 10:1-4)