Rely upon the Lord
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
– Ezekiel 37:1-3
I have had a few mountains in my path during my short life. Every time I got the feeling that I was between a rock and a hard place, the Lord came along and rescued me.
Sunday past we celebrated the Day of Pentecost, or the day on which the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples. Christians acknowledge this day as the birth of the holy Christian church.
The disciples were a small band of frightened men whom Jesus had left behind to build his church.
It did not seem that they would have any success because all odds were against them. They were between a rock and a hard place. Both the Roman imperial government and the Jewish authorities were against them. The future did not look bright at all.
The early church seemed like the dry bones in the valley in which the prophet Ezekiel had been transported. All odds, in human terms, were stacked against her. Only God could bring life to that body.
In the text we are told that the prophet Ezekiel stood in a valley of dry bone. As he stood there he was presented with what appeared to be an impossible challenge. The Lord put a question to him: “Son of man, can these bones live?”
He did not know the answer to that question. However, he trusted God, and responded: “O sovereign Lord, you alone know.” He left it up to God because he knew that God had the power to make them live.
In the dry bones God was showing the prophet and the people of Israel, who had lost hope, that he was able to renew their hope. He was able to rescue them from their dilemma in Babylon, even though it appeared that there was no hope for them.
Pentecost comes from the Greek word Pentēkostē, which means 50th. The Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples on the 50th day or seven weeks after Easter. This took place during the Jewish festival of Weeks, which also falls on the 50th day, or seven weeks and one day after the first Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The core group of 11 men Jesus left to set up his church were just ordinary men. They were not great scholars. They were not famous, nor were they wealthy. Initially, they were not even courageous. They were like the dry bones in the valley in which the prophet has been led.
They had nothing that would have caused anyone to think favorably about them. Even though in human terms, they were deficient, they had God on their side.
You and I, when we come before the Lord, we have nothing to make us attractive in his sight. Yet, he calls us, through his Spirit, and uses us to do his good works here on earth. God is the miracle worker.
When we are in our valley of dry bones, and nothing seems workable, God comes to us and works a miracle. Yes, we might have stumbling blocks in our path and the going might seem difficult but we should not lose heart. God is on your side. Jesus assures us, “I will be with you always even to the end of the age.”
Like the disciples before us, we in the church have our detractors and evil forces coming against the church. Sometimes we might wonder if we, the church can survive. During these times God’s question to the prophet: “Son of man, can these bones live?” probable echoes in our minds.
God can make the impossible, possible. After the ascension, the disciples, even though they were frightened and insecure, waited for the Lord to act. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they went from being fearful, to being fearless evangelists.
God does the very same thing for you and for me. The future of the church sometimes, to us, looks like dry bones. However, even though the frustrations and the worries and the bleak outlook cause us to doubt, we are to be reminded that the Spirit of God is at work in the world.
Therefore, when you lose hope — dig in, rely upon the Lord. He will renew your faith; revive you by putting sinews and muscles in your spirit, and make you alive again. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas or telephone 323-4107; E-mail: [email protected].