I had the intention to focus my preaching on the two sticks when I planned this series a couple of months ago. However, in my sermon notebook I couldn’t get past the valley of dry bones. It was one of those preaching itches. (I am learning to let it stick when it gets stuck and not try to fight it. So I did. I focused on the vision of this valley.)
The valley was representative of God’s people- lost, displaced, faithless, scattered. But God was not content. He sent his Word and his Spirit to bring these dry bones to life. I do not think this passage is about personal spiritual regeneration. But it does reveal the nature and character of God to move toward us even when we are unable or unwilling to move toward him. It may have been a valley of dry bones, but those bones were his people. He sent the word though they did not, indeed could not, call for the word to come. He sent his breath, his Spirit to invade their lifelessness with his life. That part of God’s character does speak to the reality of our spiritual regeneration. It’s God’s work, based on God’s character and love- not of our own works.
The most poignant part of our worship was at the communion table. Christ’s body broken. Christ’s blood shed. Christ breathing his last. We see in the meal the cost that it takes to give dry bones like you and me flesh, blood, and breath. As a part of our worship we gave people an opportunity to participate in that great exchange of death for life by putting their faith in Jesus Christ.
This actually tied in beautifully with the second part of Ezekiel 37. The unity God told Ezekiel to speak about through this image of the two sticks foreshadows Christ, “My servant David will be their prince forever…” It also foreshadows us, the church, “My dwelling place shall be among them, and I will set my sanctuary among them forever more…” The symbol of the unity of God’s people in Ezekiel’s hand as these two sticks become one is accomplished in the two sticks of Calvary on which Christ was crucified.
The table prepared before us was the picture of dry bones coming to life as we celebrated together our unity through the gospel of grace.