Once again Ezekiel was carried by the spirit to a place where God showed him a vision. This time he was carried to the valley of dry bones. In Ezek 37:1-8, Ezekiel was instructed to prophecy to the dry bones. In Ezek 37:9-10, he prophesied to the wind. And in Ezek 37:11-14, God told him to prophesy to the house of Israel.
Prophecy to the Bones
The valley, v.1, was full of bones. The Lord caused Ezekiel to pass by them and he saw very many, very dry bones, v.2. Most of the expositors say this vision is not literal but figurative. However, we see many dry bones literally spread out on the earth in Jer 8:1-3.
While surveying the valley, the Lord asked Ezekiel if the bones could live. Ezekiel replied, “O Lord God, thou knowest”, v.3. That’s a good answer (Rev 7:14).
Then, the Lord told Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones, v.4. He was to tell the bones to hear the word of the Lord. The Lord said, “I will cause breath to enter into you and ye shall live”, v.5. This is what God did when he made Adam in Gen 2:7. God first made his body and then he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.
The Lord said he would lay sinews on the bones, bring up flesh on them, cover them with skin, and put breath in them, and they would live, v.6. Of course, as often written in Ezekiel, then they would know that he is the Lord. According to Job 10:11, bones, sinew, flesh, and skin are the principle structural components of the body. And to live, the body needs breath.
So, in v.7, Ezekiel prophesied and there was a noise, and shaking (evidently, the Spirit showed up, Acts 2:2, 4:31), and the bones came together. And the sinew and the flesh came up, and the skin covered them, just like the Lord said, v.8. But there was no breath in them.
Prophecy to the Wind
After this, the Lord told Ezekiel to prophesy to the wind, v.9. He was to say, “Come from the four winds O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live”. The four winds are found in Rev 7:1 and they are simply the north wind, south wind, east wind, and west wind. Breath was told to come from the winds and breathe upon the slain.
So, in v.10, Ezekiel prophesied and the breath came into them, and they lived. Notice, in v.9, the breath came from the four winds and breathed “upon” them. Then, in v.10, the breath “came into” them and they lived, Job 33:4. At this point, they stood up upon their feet, just like the two witnesses will do in Rev 11:11, when the Spirit of life enters into them. And when they stand they are an exceeding great army. They will join the Lord in the fight at the Second Coming of Jesus.
Prophecy to the House of Israel
In v.11, the Lord explained to Ezekiel that these bones are the whole house of Israel. Israel, in captivity, was so discouraged that they said, “Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts”. Because of this saying, most expositors believe that this prophecy to Israel is not literal but figurative. They say that God was just giving them hope that they would return to their land after their current captivity. Of course, the expositors who believe this are wrong.
What follows is a very literal prophecy concerning the national resurrection of Israel. In v.12, the Lord said, “O my people”, addressing Israel. “I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves”. Isaiah prophesied this in Is 26:19. And Hosea prophesied this in Hos 13:14. Paul even quoted this verse in a chapter wholly devoted to the resurrection, 1 Cor 15:55. And a bunch of these saints came up literally, right after the resurrection of Jesus in Matt 27:52. “And bring you into the land of Israel”. They will literally occupy their land. We just studied this in Ezek 36:24.
In v.13-14, Israel will know the Lord when he opens their graves and brings them out. He will put his spirit in them and they will live. God must do this because when people die, their spirit goes back to God, Ecc 12:7. As James wrote in Jas 2:26, “the body without the spirit is dead”.
It’s possible to keep a body “breathing” on life support. You think it’s still alive, but it’s not because the breath of life is gone out of it. At the time that the breath of life goes out of a man so goes the spirit. Likewise, when God puts his spirit in them, they will have the breath of life, Gen 7:21-22. They will live and they will know that what the Lord spoke, he did.
In these prophecies, you see the close connection among wind, breath, and the spirit. You find these connections in other places in the Bible. When Jesus explained the need for the new birth to Nicodemus he compared the Spirit to wind, Jn 3:3-8. This should have directed Nicodemus to consider this passage in Ezekiel and understand that the new birth is associated with Israel’s resurrection.
When the Holy Spirit showed up in Acts 2:2-4 they heard the sound of a mighty rushing wind. Notice the connection of the Spirit to the wind. After his resurrection, Jesus breathed on his disciples, and said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost, Jn 20:22. Notice the connection of the Spirit to the Lord’s breath.
Consider that the attributes of the wind are similar to the attributes of the Spirit. They are both invisible, powerful, and unexplainable. The results of both can be seen and felt. And when they go, they go wherever they go and no one can direct them.
One more interesting note. For Israel, they will rise bodily in the future. Then the Spirit will come into them, and they will live. They get their body and then the spirit. For us, the Spirit comes into us at salvation. We have a spiritual resurrection right then, Rom 6:1-6, Eph 2:6. At the Rapture, we will have our bodily resurrection, 1 Cor 15. Thus, we get the Spirit first, and afterwards, we get our glorified body.