After Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in the year 586BC, thousands of young people were taken as captives back to the city of Babylon. We sometimes call this period of time the Babylonian Exile or the Babylonian Captivity. It was a time of great crisis for the people. Their beloved temple was destroyed, the city ruined, and they were strangers in a foreign land. They wondered if they were to have any hope? Was God’s covenant with them finally truly broken?
Ezekiel was a priest and a prophet who ministered at this time as a captive in Babylon. He is sometimes called the “psychedelic” prophet because he had such bizarre visions, but his prophecies included an incredible word about God’s power and promise to restore the people even after such a catastrophic event.
A particularly important passage is found in Ezekiel 37:1-14. It is the vision of a valley of dry bones being knit together and reanimated with flesh and skin. Ezekiel sees a reversal of death! It is a sign from God that God will not let the enemies of good keep him from rescuing his creation– even death itself may one day be undone!
The bones in Ezekiel’s vision come alive because a breath blows into them. The Hebrew word for breath is ru’ah and it can also mean “spirit”. Christian theology teaches that it is God’s Holy Spirit that allows us to trust and believe in him, thus it is the power of the Holy Spirit that restores us from our sin and death into righteousness and life. The resurrection of Jesus is the sign of what is to come for all of us — a new beginning in a new world with God. Putting our faith in Jesus Christ is our hope that even death will not stop God from giving us a new life.
Journaling Questions this Week:
Read Daniel 1:1-5, 3:1-28
- When have you felt like a stranger in your school? Family? Community?
- What kinds of “idols” do your friends and neighbors worship that you think you shouldn’t?
- What helps you resist peer-pressures?