Can These Dry Bones Live? Ezekiel 37:1-14

April 24, 2022
Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

Is there hope when death surrounds us? Our Living Lord Jesus Christ draws near to us in His Word spoken, poured, and fed us with His Living flesh and blood. Sermon Text: Ezekiel 37:1-14. Sermon Theme: Can These Dry Bones Live? Preached for Quasimodogeniti, Second Sunday of Easter, 24-April-2022 at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Tell City, Indiana by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

Episode Notes

Quasimodogeniti The Second Sunday Of Easter                   24-April-2022
Sermon Text: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Sermon Theme: “Can These Dry Bones Live?” by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

I.N.R.I. “The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” “Our hope is lost!” Life left their bones - no strength to go on. Cut off from their Lord - exiled to a foreign land far from home. Strangers in a strange land with a language they didn’t understand. Their nation was collapsing under the weight of its own wickedness. Rulers and judges perverted justice for their own personal gain. Those who dared to speak the truth were silenced. Where do you turn when all you’ve set your hope on disappears? Where can you find comfort when all you see is decay and collapse? Dead dry bones have no hope of living again.
      Fear filled them. Three days earlier their Teacher was betrayed by one of His own chosen students. He was arrested and after hasty mock trials sentenced to death by torture on a tree. After His death His corpse was hastily buried in a borrowed tomb. Early that morning some of their women brought them word of a vision. An angel had appeared preaching to them that He who was crucified was now risen from death. They didn’t believe it - dead bones don’t come to life. Now with the Sabbath past they were sure to be hunted down and executed - best they could do was lock the door hiding in fear.
      What can it hurt to miss gathering with fellow believers one Sunday? He didn’t feel like gathering with the congregation. Hope was gone. Lies, betrayal, mockery, death seemed to rule. Why expend the energy with their Teacher dead and buried they had no purpose? The others swear to him that the living Lord Jesus bodily came to their gathering. He spoke peace, comforted them with His living wounds, and breathed them alive with His Holy Spirit releasing them from all their sins. Jesus called them to apply the fruit of His cross - forgiveness of sins - simply by speaking sorrowful sinners forgiven - and by withholding forgiveness from stubborn unbelievers who wanted to hold on to their sin. Thomas wouldn’t believe unless he saw Jesus himself - after all dead bones don’t live!
    Are your bones dry? Hope died as you buried a loved one? Despair swallowed you up as all you see is wickedness and evil accepted as the new normal? Certain that Jesus is far away never to be touched? Are has fear locked you behind doors unwilling to gather in person with fellow believers on Sunday? Are your bones dry? David confessed, Psa 32:3-4 When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. (4) For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah”. He sinned sleeping with another man’s wife. To cover up his sin of adultery, he lied, then abusing his power he had Uriah the Hittite murdered. He handled his sin by himself - it only was sucking the very life out of his bones. Are your bones dry like David’s? Going through the motions of worship, but thinking that you can handle your sin by yourself - keeping silent as sin slowly sucks life from your bones? Is all hope lost for our nation? For your sick or buried loved ones? For you? “Can These Dry Bones Live?”
        Ezekiel sees a vision (vs.1). He is taken by the Lord and Giver of Life - the Holy Spirit and set down into a scene of death - a valley full of bones. Ezekiel was a descendant of Aaron, of a priestly family - he lived the same time as the prophet Jeremiah. He was among the first group of Jews exiled by King Nebachadnezzar to Babylon in 597B.C.. Four years later the Lord God calls him as prophet to preach. The false prophets told the exiles the lies they wanted to hear - don’t build houses, or plant fields - the Lord will soon bring you back to His city Jerusalem for His Temple is there. Ezekiel preached the truth. He proclaimed the vision of the Lord leaving His Temple for the priests and the people no longer hallowed His Name. For seven years Ezekiel preached the harsh, heart-rendering, hope crushing word of Divine Judgment - Jerusalem and its Temple will be destroyed. In 586B.C. his preaching becomes reality - all is laid waste by the Babylonian army. Just as we see the utter destruction caused in the Ukraine by the Russian army - so Jerusalem was reduced to rubble.
          Now the Lord gives the prophet a message of consolation and hope in the coming Messiah. The Lord will bring back a remnant to Judah that His promise of salvation for sinners in the flesh and blood of King David’s descendant - Jesus - might be fulfilled. Learn that our God is actively controls history for the sake of His Church.
          Exiles arrive with news of Jerusalem’s fall - now the Spirit of the Lord brings Ezekiel to a valley full of bones. (Vs.2) This is a scene of utter defeat. A whole army was slain. In death they are robbed of the dignity of burial - their corpses became food for the birds, wild beasts, and maggots. Reduced to nameless, sun bleached, dead, very dry bones. (Vs.3) Can life come from death? O Lord God, You know!
          Is death, the grave, decay back to dust all that our future holds? Can the Lord God Who created man from dust call us forth to life again from the dust of death? O Lord God, You know!” To rescue us from sin and death our God becomes bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh. The eternally only begotten Son of God the Father takes our humanity into Himself. He is conceived by the Holy Spirit within the womb of the Virgin Mary. How did new life enter her? Through her ears - the Angel Gabriel preached the promise of Jesus, she heard and by grace believed - “Let it be to me according to your Word.” And it was - our Lord Jesus began His march to save us within her pristine womb.
        Dead bones! Listen! (Vs.4-6) It seems foolish - preaching to a valley of dry bones. Foolish preaching to an aging congregation. Foolish preaching to sinners. Foolish preaching to a collapsing nation. 1Co 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1Co 1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” When Christ’s Word is preached - Life happens! (Vs.7-8) God’s Word works! Here is hope for all doubting Thomases - whether they are in the pulpit or in the pew - don’t despise preaching and Christ’s Word - it is a sacred holy means that brings the dead to life. It isn’t Ezekiel’s preaching style that reassembles the dry bones - it is the living active Word of our Creator and Lord Jesus Christ!
      Quasimodogeniti - 1Pe 2:2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,. Newborn babies come into the world hungry crying to be nourished at their mother’s breasts. No human mother would think after she birthed her child and nursed it once - the child could live on its own. Newborn babies birth in holy baptism by God the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus need to be nourished with God’s Word in daily family devotions and by gathering every Sunday with fellow believers around their resurrected Lord Jesus. (Vs.9) Ezekiel is commanded to preach now calling upon the breath to enter them. He prays for the Lord and Giver of Life to enter into their lifeless bodies restoring them to life. (Vs.10) Behold the miracle of Christ’s victory over death applied to our dry bones! Our living Lord Jesus breathes out His life giving Word of peace through His living flesh wounded for you! He is here every Sunday drawing near to us fearful followers marked with His cross. He breathes out His Holy Spirit to bring us peace in His forgiving Word. He comforts us crushed guilty sinners speaking us forgiven through the mouth of our pastor - as His ambassador reconciling us to God. He draws near that we may touch His living flesh and wounds as He places upon our lips His living flesh and blood in bread and wine. We are an army of newborn babies nurtured through the preaching of Christ’s Word. Joh 20:29-31 Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (30) And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; (31) but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
      What did Ezekiel’s vision mean? (Vs11) The Church of Ezekiel’s day - Israel - thought all was lost and hope was gone. The Lord God sends forth His Word and life renewing Holy Spirit to fill them with Christ’s life.(vs.12-14) This is more than just a promise to bring the exiles back from Babylon to Judah. This is the promise of the ultimate victory and gathering exiles from all nations into the true Israel - the Christian Church. During the feast of Purim, which commemorated the Lord delivering the Jews from Hamann’s plan of slaughter in Persia through Queen Esther. Jesus preaches in the Temple, Joh 5:24-29 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. (25) Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. (26) For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, (27) and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. (28) Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice (29) and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”  
      Can these dead bones live? Not by their own reason or strength - but Jesus lives! He has won the victory for us! Now He breathes forth His life giving Holy Spirit through the preaching of His cross - He renews our dry bones and fills us with His breath - Holy Spirit - we live, even if we die, we live in Him. This is the victory that overcomes this dying world - our faith - renewed with the living water and blood that flows from Christ’s side over our infant heads in baptism, washes us new in absolution, and fills us with His life at His table. His resurrection assures us that hope is never gone - our bodies shall be raised incorruptible, glorious - and we shall again be reunited with all called by His Name. Amen.

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