Awakened to New Life
Some claim that mankind’s problem is not that we’re sinful but that we’re sick. If only we could provide for ourselves the right kind of care, medicine, or technology, then our lives would be transformed and we’d be ok, for surely man is essentially good, not innately sinful. At least, so goes the thinking.
According to the Bible, however, the only adequate explanation for the predicament we face is that man is spiritually lifeless. It’s not even that we are spiritually sick; outside of Christ we are “dead in [our] trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1, emphasis added). And how much can a dead person do to make themselves alive? Nothing.
So you and I quite literally have a grave problem—unless, that is, there is one who is able to speak into the deadness of our experience and, by His very words, bring us to life. And that, of course, is Christianity’s great message: “As in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
The best physical picture of this spiritual reality is the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Imagine the scene. Lazarus was gone, and everyone knew it. He had been buried for four days. And yet Jesus walked up to the tomb and addressed the dead man: he “cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’” (John 11:43). And Lazarus came out.
How was it that Lazarus came to life? It was a result of the voice of Jesus, who alone can speak so that the spiritually dead hear. Just as Jesus brought life to lifeless Lazarus, so He breathes life into the deadness of men’s and women’s spiritual condition. Spiritually, we are corpses—just as dead and decaying as Lazarus in his tomb. But when God chooses, He utters His word and awakens us to life. As the hymn writer puts it:
He speaks, and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive.
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice;
The humble poor believe.
We are not to think too much of ourselves. Left to our own devices and efforts, we are dead. We can never think too much of Jesus. He and He alone is the reason we have life. And we must never think too little of the call to share His gospel with those around us; for we have been given the inestimable privilege of being the means by which Jesus calls dead people to come out of their spiritual grave and discover eternal life with Him. To whom is He prompting you to speak of Him today?
The Valley of Dry Bones
1The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley;1 it was full of bones. 2And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath2 to enter you, and you shall live. 6And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
7So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling,3 and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. 9Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” 10So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
11Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”
I Will Be Their God, They Shall Be My People
15The word of the Lord came to me: 16“Son of man, take a stick4 and write on it, ‘For Judah, and the people of Israel associated with him’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him.’ 17And join them one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. 18And when your people say to you, ‘Will you not tell us what you mean by these?’ 19say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am about to take the stick of Joseph (that is in the hand of Ephraim) and the tribes of Israel associated with him. And I will join with it the stick of Judah,5 and make them one stick, that they may be one in my hand. 20When the sticks on which you write are in your hand before their eyes, 21then say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. 22And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms. 23They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings6 in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
24“My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. 25They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children's children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. 26I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land7 and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”
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