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Ezekiel's Valley of Dry Bones and the "Shaking"

A “Prophesyingly” Interpretive Commentary (Ezek 37:1-14 (NASB))

Ezek 37:1 - The hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones.

-Ezekiel was made to see this representation through a vision only and not in reality. As such it was God showing him what was the case/condition with Israel. As Israel, in mainly the surviving tribe of Judah then, which had actually been judged (Ezek 9) some ca. 7 years before[1] (See also in the outline chart of Ezekiel here). This vision is therefore a representation of what is, however, to the extent that it is shown (i.e, many, dry, bones strewn across a valley), which was not a depiction of actual reality with the people of Judah or Israel, it is really a representation of how God was seeing things.

-It is also significant that God has brought Ezekiel to “the valley”. First of all, with the use of a definite article in referring to the “valley” in this vision, it implies that Ezekiel knew exactly in which “valley” he had been brought, it was evidently the same ‘known valley’ that God had instructed him to go to, so that He could “speak” to him there, back in Ezek 3:22, 23 (cf. Ezek 8:4). Indeed the valley was a common place for such official decisive meetings, particularly ones that could potentially evolve into open armed conflict resolutions (cf. Neh 6:2, (Neh 6:3)). And as the valley was a terrain without any natural obstacles (cf. Isa 40:4); nor hampering marsh-type patches of water (cf. Isa 41:18), it was indeed the perfect place to have two (large) warring armies, and all of their warring “(mobile) implements” [of that time] (e.g., horses and horse-drawn chariots), meet (2 Chr 35:22; cf. Zech 12:11 [2]). However in that first valley meeting with Ezekiel, God, being on the side of Ezekiel, had there re-created the foundational vision of Ezekiel’s ministry of him seeing, thus grasping/understanding, the ‘Glory (= Character) of God.’ (Ezek 3:23 = Ezek 1:1ff). And indeed in that valley meeting, God there first gave Ezekiel “warring” instructions as to the actions that must now be taken against rebellious Israel (Ezek 3:24-27ff).

Ezek 37:2 - He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry.

-The way these bones are shown to be strewn about on the surface of a valley (or “plain”), this is the depiction of an army that had been assembled there for battle. In fact, there may be a prophetic/thematic significance with the fact that an ultimate battle is mentioned in the next two chapters, i.e., the one against ‘Gog from Magog’ (Ezek 38 & 39; cf. Rev 20:8). So God’s People then may have gathered there to counter that looming threat. However, as depcited in the present vision, God first had a “Spiritual Reviving” (leading to the Latter Rain) and “Battalions Reforming” (cf. GC 425.1-2; PK 725.1; EW 52.1) work to do amongst them (= LDE 189.3). However, and towards this Final Conflict end, as spoken in the vision that immediately follows this one, in Ezek 37:15-28, God first needed to do a full Restoration of His Israel (=Rev 7). 

-Interestingly enough, as already introduced above in the verse 1 commentary, God had brought Ezekiel to this manifestly same valley back in Ezek 3:22, 23, where this present war would take place. Therefore God had brought him there, and that to give him warring instructions against Israel, (that indeed if not heeded would result in this present state of utter defeat), long before any hint of a major war had become evident. (Amos 3:7). Also/Thus, by sequitur implication, seeing/understanding the Glory of God (Ezek 1:1ff), as Ezekiel did in that valley, pivotally had much to do with that coming major war. (COL 69:1-2; 414.1-416.1; cf. Rev 14:7).

-The fact that there bones are very dry indicates that they had been lying there dead for many years by then.

Ezek 37:3 - He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord GOD, You know."

-The answer of Ezekiel here is echoed in Revelation 7:13, 14 where one of the 24 elders actually “answered” a question that John manifestly had on his mind while gazing at the Great Multitude that resulted from the sealing of Israel (vss. Rev 7:4-12). John was evidently surprised by this turnout and the Elder pointed out exactly how these had come to “triumphed” (vss. Rev7:14b ff).

-Interestingly enough, the last time that John had encountered one of those elders in his revelation was in the Throne Room scene back in Rev 4 & 5

Ezek 37:4 - Again He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.'

-The fact that Ezekiel is here instructed to speak to these dry bones and that they could “hear” shows that this was indeed a representation of the spiritual state of God’s people.

Ezek 37:5 - "Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, 'Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life.

-“Breath” is indeed understood as a “spirit”; here the Spirit of God. This does come to bring life.

Ezek 37:6 - 'I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the LORD.'"

-It is striking to see that God will actually, forcefully do this and it is actually only after that it is done, that God’s People will recognize/acknowledge that ‘He is the LORD.’

Ezek 37:7 - So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone.

-Literally this is saying “I was made to prophesy” (passive niphal) as I was commanded. So Ezekiel here is just following orders. And, no doubt to his surprise, as he was prophesying, the bones gradually started to come to together.

-The term “noise” = “sound/voice(=Rev 11:12 “voice”; i.e., as with other mentions below, same applicable message as it has been for prior Two Witnesses). This is when the Rev 4:1's eschatologically resetted message, and its Grand (Prolonging) Plan, that Rev 11:12 cryptically alludes to, is confirmed by God (=Rev 3:9), as indeed, that Philadelphian Door (Rev 3:9) long ‘set before the (lone), promisedly-princely (Rev 3:21) Shaking-victor out of Laodicea, and opened by its Davidic Key (Rev 3:7), is now shown to have been the ‘righteousness-terrible (Rev 19:11ff) warringly indicting&condemning prosecution borne from the Heavenly Intelligence.’ (CET 228.2).

-The term “rattling” is actually more forceful as it speaks of a “Shaking” (Amos 1:1; Zech 14:5 - LXX/Greek “seismos”) So even when it is speaking of a “tumult” or “commotion” it is actually speaking of ‘an earth shaking one’....It just is not actually the “harvest sifting” Shaking (=Rev 11:13b), but a quasi-make shift one which preludes and prepares it (=Rev 11:13a).

This (seismic) “Shaking” is thematically linked to the one spoken of here from Rev 11:13a. (= ‘the (distinct) shaking of the powers of the (powers that rule on the) Earth’ (EW 41.1-2, cf. this pointed post -depicted in Episodes #1-#22 here); [-Episodes #23-#59 there depict the (distinct), (‘religiously-related’), ‘powers that rule in the heavens (=“in religious realms”)’ which are “then”/next shaken (=Heb 12:26), symbolized by the Sun (=righteousness/(socio-)economy), Moon (=religious economy), and Stars (=religious/righteousness leaders)] =Isa 24:16-23|Heb 12:25-29). See much more on the results of this development in this post.

Ezek 37:8 - And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them.

-As in the sequence of things planned/prophesied back in vs. 6, though these bones had been reassembled and being refitted with sinews, flesh and skin, they were still lifeless as they still were missing the breath/spirit of God. They were thus really not alive yet.  As seen in the next verse, these now “enfleshed” bodies as still “slain” (i.e., dead). The revival process had begun but was not complete until they came to have this Spirit of God.

-(This spiritual theme is very allusive to the New Birth process mentioned by Christ in John 3:1-9ff, where it is the breath of God that is really the key to the New Birth and not mere physicality.)

Ezek 37:9 - Then 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 come to life."'" (=Rev 11:11, 12)

Ezekiel is now here insistently ordered to prophesy to the breath itself. He was to say to this breath to come from the Four Winds.

-With this vision being thematically closely tied to the effect of the Sealing in the Great Multitude of Rev 7, the mention of the Four Winds here is allusive to the Four Winds mentioned in Rev 7:1-3 which had been held back, at the command of a Mighty Angel (see 20MR 216.6-217.1),[3] so that the Sealing of the 144,000 could take place, starting with Judah. This vision is a smaller scale of the Rev 7 Great Multitude, focusing on the tribe of Judah only, which as it will be shown, is the “House of Israel.” (See more on this ‘Four Winds’ event/development in this post.)

Ezek 37:10 -  So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. (=Rev 11:11, 12)

-Here the verb “prophesy” is in the reflexive intensive for, (the Hithpeel form) and literally shows that Ezekiel, no doubt at the related urgency of God in vs. 9, “made himself to prophesy”. The breath indeed did come into them and they indeed came to life and, interestingly enough, became an army. This shows/confirms that, as depicted in vs. 2, this had indeed been an army gathered in plain for a battle. The fact that they are assembled as an army after their revival shows that this battle had yet to occur. Yet somehow, they had been strewn there as if already soundly defeated by an opposing army. That has only been seen in Israel’s history when an army suddenly turned on themselves and completely killed themselves off (2 Chr 20:22-24), or by direct action of God (Isa 37:36/2Kgs 19:35; (2 Chr 13:12-19); 2 Chr 32:20-22; cf. Isa 31:4b-5, 8). So by implication this can come to be if this army was similarly guilty of having defeated themselves by such “in-fighting” or if God had acted against them. The prior choice contextually seems to be the case here and can figuratively be fulfilled today through especially trying to do the work of the Church Militant through competitive means, as economically seen in Capitalism and its pervasive systemic reach, when adopted and allowed to do so. (=Zech 13:5b, 6 -see here)

This notion of a ‘resulting, exceedingly great army’ is, as discussed in here (see at Rev 19:14), the, indeed Two Witnesses-initiated one finally “winds-materialized” and organized during the prophetic Sixth Era’s Trumpet (Rev 9:12- =Rev 7:4-8ff), and is synonymous with the post-whirlwind judgement of God shown to EGW. See this post.

God Explains the Vision
Ezek 37:11 - Then 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 has perished. We are completely cut off.'

-There is a difference between saying simply “Israel” and “the house of Israel”. The expression “house” of refers to an inner core of that great entity. It is like a nucleus from which the greater entity can be reformed. It also represents the portion of that greater entity that is vital to its survival. As seen in Eze 9:9 & 37:16, the “House of Israel” and “Judah” are not one and the same thing however the House of Israel was contained within the surviving tribe of Judah and is conflatedly addressed as such throughout the book of Ezekiel (ca. 83X - e.g., Ezek 3:1, 4, 5, 7; 8:6, etc). Judah had the added burden and responsibility of bringing about the reestablishment of the other 10+ tribes of Israel. So they indeed also contained that “house” in their midst and this was indeed their paramount reason of existence and why God had worked to preserve them as a Remnant of His former whole nation. That is also why Judah is shown to be the first tribe sealed in the (related) 144,000 Sealing prophecy of (Rev 7:4).

-With this explanation actually reverting back to the time when the bones were lifeless, God is stating how these symbolic bones of the House of Israel (within Judah) had felt. They felt that they were beyond any chance of being revived and that apparently because they were “hopeless”. They felt that they had been “separated”. This supposed “separation” is actually not the covenant related “cutting off” reserved for those who God had rejected and condemned to death. It was just as mere separation. So the sense of these dry bones, also supposing a perishing of their hope/expectation/longing, was actually an overstatement of actual events. They were not as “beyond usefulness” as they thought.

Ezek 37:12 - "Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel.

-Now the scene shifts to normative graves vs. an open strewning. This is thus a further detailing of what the real state of these slain ones had been. They had not even gathered in the valley/plain as an army for a battle and been slain by an opposing force, but had simply, individually, naturally died and been normatively buried.

-The end goal theme of the prior vision is also refocused here to show that it is the restoration to the land of Israel (from both Babylon and other places in the world, which also was in the realm of the then ruling Babylonian Empire).

Ezek 37:13 - "Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people.

-Again, it is actually after that this revival/resuscitation is completed that these people would fully understand and acknowledge their God.

Ezek 37:14 - "I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it," declares the LORD.'"

-As shown here, the sequence of things will be that God will first put His Spirit in them, reviving them (their already reformed and enfleshed body) back to life and then place them back into their own land. Then will these people understand what has taken place here.

-And the sequencing is key here, prior to being filled with God’s Spirit, they have to be bodily “re-organized”, culminating in the putting of flesh on their rejoined bones and inner organ or else they are (indeed) no better than what the (Eschatological) Babylonian Mark of the Beast Camp will become after God has ‘“strongly” (Rev 18:8ff), warringly, judged it’ (Rev 19:17-21 -see here). Once that ‘bodily re-organization’ (LDE 189.3b) has been completed then God can fill that “body” with the full measure of His (Latter Rain) Spirit. (=LDE 189.1-196.1).


Current Day Application[4]
            For now 11+ years, since the release of this initial message on Rev 11 back in June 2000, the “Testimony to the Church” has been, and continues to be, based on the Bible, SOP and actual, fulfilling developments, that: ‘because of the unacceptable state and works of the Church, time will again, as with the first generation of SDA, and Ancient Israel, both, respectively, spiritually and literally, on the borders of the Promise Land, be prolonged. However God’s still planned Great Work would continue to advance.’ So, as detailed here, an eschatological age of prophetic fulfillment would come to pass. Most SDA have rejected this message, mainly because they saw nothing wrong with the way they were as a God’s professed People, nor in how they were conducted God’s work, which was, and still is, mainly through spurious capitalistic methods. As such God’s work has been artificially limited by the ‘commands of men’; and fallen/evil men at that. SDA’s have also rejected this Biblical Message because accepting it would mean that the long proclaimed and adhered to “Hope/Expectation/Longing” of the Second Coming, pointedly in their lifetime, would, according to their understanding, surely not occur in their lifetime. So they saw it best to reject that call for practical Sabbatical Works, and continue to “profess” that ‘they believe in the soon Return of Christ.’ What they Theologically do not understand is that mere profession of the Second Coming won’t make it happen. By their works, or actually lack thereof, in the Light of what they should be for this most blessed and, variously, rich Church, they are the ones who are postponing the Glorious Return of Christ, and refusing to fulfill Christ’s Gospel Mandate only is compoundedly making this much worse, and that also to their own peril. So, as Jesus said, by so ‘wishing to save their lives’ they are actually losing it, but those who lose it for the Gospel’s sake will save it. (Mark 8:35). However the “moronically” expedient thing for them to do was to ignore the Gospel mandate claims of Christ’s Gospel.

So here these SDA Believers are depicted in this vision to Ezekiel (misunderstandingly) claiming/believing that their “Hope” was lost in the light of their evident slain, dried up bones conditions as depicted by God in vision to Ezekiel. They also felt doomed, decreed to death, even “cut off”. However that does not have to necessarily be the case. God’s prolonged work which had started when the Jesus-Commissioned Mighty Angel had command Four other Mighty Angels to hold the Four Winds (see in this post), was not necessarily an utter end for them. Though the Second Coming could, and probably would be prolonged, due to their own faults and thus actually for their salvific benefit, they still could have a great part to do in this Greater Work of God. Also, like the SDA Church’s belief that they currently are marshalling towards the prophesied Final Conflict, indeed the Battle of Har-maggedon, and actually see themselves as already in that battlefield, ready and even present long before their enemies know to come to that prophetic battle field and fight them. (As seen in many popular claims of ‘fulfilling Sunday Law events’ or other conspiracies supposedly aimed at SDA’s, which those who are accused of doing such acts actually are not even doing so, especially not knowingly. -Actual acts against, pointedly, SDA’s, which will fulfill Final Events will all be knowing and deliberate ones.) So as God goes on to show in Ezek 37:13 & 14, these delusioned dry bones had actually just been lying dead in their own graves and not from even, honorably despite defeat, in a (spiritual) battlefield conflict. So, all this time, they had not been ‘fighting the good fight of faith’. (1 Tim 6:12).
            From Ezekiel`s first wave of prophesying, these dry bones are physically restored, yet they are still lifeless, lacking God`s Spirit. That ‘life giving breath’ is to come from the Four Winds which all shows that it is only when the Church realizes|understands|acknowledges what has taken place in these times with the holding back of the Four Winds (= a halting of Final Events) due to their own individual (graves) and collective (valley) unworthiness and unfitness for God’s Final Conflict, all given birth to the Eschatological wave of Bible Prophecy, will it then ‘come to life’, even a New Birth Life, doing the actual works of Christ, fulfilling His Gospel Commission. In doing this work, this Church Triumphant Work, as it inevitably due, the Church will then have restored God’s Israel. It is probably only after this comes to pass that it will truly understand all that has taken place here and that this is indeed God’s Will and His Doing. (RH, January 17, 1893 par. 7-10)...
            ...And as detailed in the “eyes like a flaming fire” section in here, this Ezekiel 37 “resurrection through God’s “Son of Man” (e.g., Ezek 37:9, 11) prophesying” was symbolically shown in vision to EGW, in her first “vision”, in EW 15.2-16.1's (a) “silver trumpet” (=typological/second-best) resurrection through the “Son of Man” (=Rev 14:14-16's Church, indeed "Shaking", “Harvesting” (Matt 13:36-43|COL 62-69|70-75), by (b) in actually, ‘paramountly/solely regards and acts (=“eyes and hands” (=Dan 12:6-7|Rev 10:5-7)) towards/for heaven’ (=Exod 32:11-14), (c) then having “wrapped himself” in those: “unworthy (=Rev 6:16-17|DA 825.4)-professed-people-“through and through”-searching, “flame of fire” “Theological Views””!!


Notes
[1] Through the dated and chronological way in which the book of Ezekiel was written, with visions given over ca. 20 years, the prophesied events in Ezekiel 8-11 (ca. 593-2 B.C. (Ezek 1:1, 2; 8:1) vs. ca. 585 B.C for Ezek 33ff (Ezek 32:1; 33:21)) manifestly did come to pass on Judah in the ca, 588-586 B.C. siege and destruction by Babylon (see e.g., Jer 34:1ff; 39:1ff; 52:4ff). This was a third and the most destructive siege on Judah by Babylon in which Jerusalem and the Temple were captured and physically destroyed (see Jer 39:8) vs. the limited, mere “pillaging” damage in the prior sieges and assaults.

[2] It is rightly understood that the mention of, accurately, “Har-Megiddo” (a.k.a. Armageddon) in Rev 16:16 involves a major conflict, and this relatable allusion in Zech 12:11 (=2 Chr 35:20-25) can cast much light on that obscure eschatological mention/application. First of all, unlike what is normative for a major war involving large and “sophisticated” armies, the eschatological war does not take place in a “valley”, but involves a “mountain”. Secondly, the context of Zech 12, which dovetails into the Divine Judgement of Chapter 13, doubly involves: ‘God warring against those who have assembled against Jerusalem’, but also ‘against those in Jerusalem who are bringing/holding His people down’, namely the defective/deficient leaders. The prime symbolism of this is seen in the fact that in that epic and memorable battle of 2 Chr 35, ultra good king Josiah had lost his life because he had refused to obey what was actually God’s will and word. (2 Chr 35:20-22ff). So God’s main concern in this war, on top of also bringing utter defeat to enemies of His Israel, was/(still) is to (a) preserve the house of David, and (b) spare all those who are faithful in Jerusalem. In fact it is those “spared ones” who go on to, almost supernaturally, inflict defeat upon Israel’s enemies (see Zech 12:8, 9; = Rev 11:13). So the key here is to grasp what is meant by the opposite symbol of a “mountain” in Rev 16:16 vs. the expected/normative “valley”. (See in this post for the explanation of that symbol. See in this post at Rev 16:16 comments section for more on Har-Mageddon.).

[3] In thematically prophetic relation to this post on the Two Witnesses, non-accidently with one of them being representative of the Elijah work and his due, circumstancely made necessary, complimentary Eschatological work (cf. here on Mal 4:4-6), it is commonly assumed that it was God who told Elijah to tell Ahab that because of Israel’s waywardness in worship Baal, rain was going to be withheld, and that for precisely a symbolically significant 3.5 years, however the Biblical testimony (James 5:17; 1 Kgs 17:1ff, which is actually not contradicted by the SOP (PK 119.1-121.2ff), both, i.e., combinedly, make it clear that it was Elijah himself who initiated and/or, being Spiritually in tune (cf. Matt 18:18), indeed came in tune with the already decreed, and to be carried out, “turn of events” here. In other words, Elijah, seeing Israel’s waywardness, knew that the God of Heaven will surely not leave this unpunished, nor reward it, and thus earnestly prayed that God fittingly punish Israel, and that pointedly in the exact way of their waywardness, which was the thinking that their man-made/ascribed to (foreign) god was responsible for their livelihood and more powerful, “at least in that regard”, than the even professed “Creator” God of Heaven. Then, as it can be seen in the SOP account, God would have responded to Elijah that it would indeed be just as he had requested and no rain would indeed not be sent and he could go ahead and announce this to King Ahab. That would also explain why Elijah was doubtful about his commission as he was travelling by fertile lands (PK 121.2). If it was God who had initially told him this, then he likely would not be second guessing God as he knew God would do this. But because it was him who had initiated that request, perhaps he felt here that he may have asked for too much. However he went ahead in faith because the God of Heaven had indeed ratified his punishment proposal. Indeed we find the same themes in the “Eschatological Holding back of the Four Winds’ which were to cause Bible/SOP Final Events to unravel. And that punishment came to take 3.5 years before it was deemed complete, and that ended again at ‘Elijah’s  relating word’, whenever it would be that God would signal him to do so (1 Kgs 17:1b & 18:1). (So any prophetic use of this 3.5 years period is intended to be allusive to this Elijah judgement and not, as popularly commonly assumed, “half of a perfect/complete 7 years.”

[4] See the common, and latest, exegetically glib/surface SDA understanding of this prophecy in this, late December 2010, sermon by Derek Morris for a GC Revival and Reformation Week series. See also this similarly, exegetically glib recent (ca. March 19, 2011) sermon ([video] [audio]) by Doug Batchelor on this prophecy. As both, stemming from various inculcated, capitalistic/individualistic, artificial limitations, fail to recognize the real and depth of, practical and sectarian pivotal problems of the Church, they both fail to properly interpret and apply this prophecy, settling for surface, spiritually vacuous/teethless and “wall plastering”, understandings. (= Ezek 13:10-16)
            On the other hand, see the February 2-5, 2012 ‘Revival and Latter Rain’ series preached by Mark Howard on the Andrews University Campus, which is the best exposition and exhortation on this issue which I have heard from amongst SDA, pointedly because it is not ‘glossingly and indifferently, “watering-downly” apologetic’ as other SDA attempts (typically) have been.

4 comments:

  1. Good informative and Church of God needs to heed into

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks John...The SDA Church has instead insisted on pursuing its, at best, spurious revival efforts. They like learning ‘the hard way’ (=Amos 7:7-9) instead of, straightly/fully, God’s Way.

      God Bless!

      Delete
  2. Revive us oh Lord to rise up an army

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can see the pivotal understanding which will produce this “army with many banners” (PK 725.1) in this post

      Delete

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