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THE VALLEY OF DRY BONES

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, June 21, 2009

“And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live” (Ezekiel 37:3-5).


Spurgeon printed three of the sermons that he preached from this passage of Scripture. One of them is very famous. It is called “The Restoration and Conversion of the Jews” (The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1991 printing, volume X, pp. 425-436). Although Spurgeon was not a dispensationalist and had little light on Bible prophecy, he was always true to the Scriptures. Verses 11 through 14 clearly say that this passage refers to the restoration of Israel to their own land, to what was then called “Palestine.” Since that is clearly stated, that is what Spurgeon preached, way back in 1864. He said,

Israel is now blotted out from the map of nations; her sons are scattered far and wide…But she is to be restored; she is to be restored “as from the dead”…She is to be reorganized; her scattered bones are to be brought together. There will be a native government again; there will again…be a state (Spurgeon, ibid., p. 428).

Spurgeon’s view of this promise was fulfilled literally on May 14, 1948 when the establishment of the modern nation of Israel was proclaimed by the Jewish national council in Palestine. The new nation established a government led by David Ben-Gurion as prime minister and Chaim Weizmann as president. Since then Jews from all over the world have poured back into Israel, and the first half of this prophecy began to be literally fulfilled,

“Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:12).

Baptists and other Bible-believing Christians have always backed Israel, beginning with our Baptist president Harry S. Truman. Bible-believing Christians in America are the strongest and most consistent friends of Israel. It is right and Scriptural that we should do so, regardless of what the anti-Semites say today. The restoration of Israel is the literal interpretation of Ezekiel 37.

But Spurgeon preached another sermon on this passage of Scripture in 1882. In this second sermon, Spurgeon said that these verses are

…a striking picture of the salvation of Israel from national death [but] We may with equal accuracy see in it a vivid representation of the work of grace upon the hearts of all those who are quickened into spiritual life by the power of divine grace (C. H. Spurgeon, “Despair Denounced and Grace Glorified,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1973 edition, volume XXVIII, p. 469).

Thus, verses 3 and following picture the conversion of lost sinners.

“And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live” (Ezekiel 37:3-5).

Stand and sing that chorus, “Breathe On Me.”

Breathe on me, Breathe on me,
   Holy Spirit, breathe on me;
Take Thou my heart, cleanse every part,
   Holy Spirit, breathe on me.
(“Breathe On Me” by B. B. McKinney, 1886-1952).

You may be seated. Here are three things God says in the text.

I. First, God says, “Can these bones live?”

“The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest” (Ezekiel 37:1-3).

Dr. McGee said that this is a picture of unconverted people in church. He said,

Every congregation that a preacher speaks to includes those who are saved and those who are unsaved…the ones who are not saved are dead in trespasses and sins – they haven’t been redeemed yet. The preacher is as helpless as Ezekiel, for any preacher who understands the real state and condition of those who are lost recognizes his own helplessness in speaking to them (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, volume III, p. 509; note on Ezekiel 37:4).

When a preacher looks out from the pulpit, that is what he sees. Many are just like bones,

“Dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).

“Dead in your sins” (Colossians 2:13).

“And, lo, they were very dry” (Ezekiel 37:2).

Is that your state this morning? Are you so dead that nothing moves you? Is your heart “very dry” in the sight of God? Sing that chorus, “Breathe on Me.”

Breathe on me, Breathe on me,
   Holy Spirit, breathe on me;
Take Thou my heart, cleanse every part,
   Holy Spirit, breathe on me.

Now read Ezekiel 37:3 aloud.

“And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest” (Ezekiel 37:3).

God called Ezekiel “Son of man.” This shows that the preacher is only a human being. The preacher is just a man, a “Son of man.” A preacher has no power to help you. I can preach to you, but the words I say will only fall on dead ears. Often it seems to me that God is asking me the same question, “Son of man, can these bones live?” That is the most frightening and probing question God can ask a preacher, “Can these bones live?”

I was asked to preach at a certain church on a Sunday night. I asked someone who knew the church what I should preach. He said, “Whatever you do, don’t preach a Gospel sermon. They hear that all the time. They are all saved.” I didn’t know what to do. God seemed to be telling me to preach a simple Gospel sermon. But a man who knew the church said not to do it – everyone was saved already. I was desperate. I spent the whole afternoon in prayer. I only had a simple Gospel sermon. I went trembling into the pulpit.

“And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest” (Ezekiel 37:3).

God said, “Can these bones live?” Ezekiel answered, “O Lord God, thou knowest.” Dr. McGee put it, “In other words, he said, ‘I don’t see how they could. It’s beyond me – you alone know whether these bones can live or not’” (McGee, ibid.). I went into that pulpit trembling and sweating. I began to preach. Then the Holy Spirit fell on the congregation! Stand and sing it!

Breathe on me, Breathe on me,
   Holy Spirit, breathe on me;
Take Thou my heart, cleanse every part,
   Holy Spirit, breathe on me.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to come down here this morning! (all pray). Sing it again!

Breathe on me, Breathe on me,
   Holy Spirit, breathe on me;
Take Thou my heart, cleanse every part,
   Holy Spirit, breathe on me.

You may be seated.

II. Second, God says, “Prophesy upon these bones.”

Read verse 4 aloud.

“Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord”
      (Ezekiel 37:4).

God says, “Prophesy” – preach to these dry, dead bones! Say to them, “O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.” The preacher thinks, “How can a dry bone hear the word of the Lord? How can they? How can they?” Oh, my God, I know they can’t. Their minds are somewhere else. They are going over and over the same dead mental patterns. They can’t hear what I am saying!

“And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain… And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak” (Mark 7:32-35, 37).

Stand and pray for God to open deaf ears to the Gospel! (all pray). Sing it again!

Breathe on me, Breathe on me,
   Holy Spirit, breathe on me;
Take Thou my heart, cleanse every part,
   Holy Spirit, breathe on me.

“Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord”
      (Ezekiel 37:4).

This is the word of the Lord – Jesus Christ died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins! Jesus Christ shed His Blood on the Cross to wash away all your sins! Jesus Christ rose from the dead! Jesus Christ is alive up in Heaven, next to God! This is the word of the Lord! Let’s sing “Near the Cross.” Give us the chord!

In the cross, in the cross,
   Be my glory ever;
‘Till my raptured soul shall find
   Rest beyond the river.
(“Near the Cross” by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).

Sing it again!

In the cross, in the cross,
   Be my glory ever;
‘Till my raptured soul shall find
   Rest beyond the river.

It’s on the Cross that He died to pay for your sins. It’s on the Cross that He poured out His Blood to wash away your sin!

In the cross, in the cross,
   Be my glory ever;
‘Till my raptured soul shall find
   Rest beyond the river.

You may be seated.

I was scared. Many famous preachers were there. He told me, “Whatever you do, don’t preach the Gospel! They hear it every Sunday. They are all saved!” Was he right? I went into the pulpit with my heart pounding, with sweat dripping off my hands! I started to preach.

“O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:4).

What if nobody listens? What if nobody comes forward? What if I fail? What will they say?

“Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord”
      (Ezekiel 37:4).

“Tell them, Thus saith the Lord God; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear” (Ezekiel 3:11).

Preach the Gospel of Christ, whether they hear you or not! Whether they shut their ears or open them,

“say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:4).

That’s my calling! That is my task! That is what God Almighty has told me to do!

III. Third, God says, “I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live.”

Read verse 5 aloud.

“Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live” (Ezekiel 37:5).

God says, “I” (not me, but God) “I will cause” (not you, but God) “I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live.” That’s what it has to be! God the Holy Spirit has to enter you. Then you will come to life! God said,

“I will put my spirit within you” (Ezekiel 36:27).

Stand and sing it one more time softly,

Breathe on me, Breathe on me,
   Holy Spirit, breathe on me;
Take Thou my heart, cleanse every part,
   Holy Spirit, breathe on me.

I stood up to preach that night. Great preachers were there. They were all looking at me. That fellow had said, “Whatever you do, don’t preach the Gospel. They are all saved!” My heart pounded. Sweat dripped from my hands. I started to preach. I preached the Gospel! Take it or leave it! That’s what you’ll hear! You’re lost! You’re lost! You don’t have Christ! You have religion – but you’re lost! Come to Christ! Be washed clean by His Blood! I said, “Get out of your seat and come down here right now.” We started to sing. I thought, “Nobody will come.” We sang the second stanza. Three grown men came down the aisle. They took them out into a side room. We sang another stanza. Somebody shouted, “A preacher just got saved!” One of the men who came was a preacher! The Holy Spirit came down on the congregation like a cloud! An old man came crawling on his hands and knees down the aisle. As he crawled down the aisle on his hands and knees he shouted at the top of his lungs, “I’m lost! I’m lost!” That is the work of God! That is conversion! That is reality! It went on for three hours. Over 75 people came forward, weeping and wailing, screaming and crying, confessing their sins to God.

“I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live”
      (Ezekiel 37:5).

Jesus said,

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:6-7).

We’re going to sing “In the Cross” again. Give us the chord!

In the cross, in the cross,
   Be my glory ever;
‘Till my raptured soul shall find
   Rest beyond the river.

You are a sinner! You are lost! Nobody can save you but Jesus! That’s why He died on the Cross. He died on the Cross to pay for your sin and wash it away with His Blood! We’re going to sing it again. While we sing, get down this aisle and say, “I’m lost! I’m lost!” Right now, you, yes you! Get out of your seat and come down here! “I’m lost! Oh, Jesus, wash my sin away with the Blood you shed on that Cross!” Sing “In the Cross” again.

In the cross, in the cross,
   Be my glory ever;
‘Till my raptured soul shall find
   Rest beyond the river.

Breathe on me, Breathe on me,
   Holy Spirit, breathe on me;
Take Thou my heart, cleanse every part,
   Holy Spirit, breathe on me.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Ezekiel 37:1-14.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Breathe On Me” (by B. B. McKinney, 1886-1952).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE VALLEY OF DRY BONES

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live” (Ezekiel 37:3-5).

(Ezekiel 37:12)

I.   First, God says, “Can these bones live?” Ezekiel 37:1-3;
Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13.

II.  Second, God says, “Prophesy upon these bones,” Ezekiel 37:4;
Mark 7:32-35, 37; Ezekiel 3:11.

III. Third, God says, “I shall cause breath to enter into you, and ye
shall live,” Ezekiel 37:5; 36:27; John 3:6-7.