Lesson 4 -- second quarter 2009
March 22, 2009
© Copyright 2009
What desolation, hopelessness, and dashed dreams have you endured?
Are you able to offer hope and promise?
Would you accept a hopeless assignment from God? How about a ridiculous one?
Have you given up hope on any one?
How do I get from dead bones to abundant living?
We all experience segments of life that seem as worthwhile, hopeful, and full of life as a scattered assortment of long-dead bones. Sometimes, matters are so bad that we feel that we are little more than a collection of fleshless, mindless, lifeless dry bones. Our dreams have turned to dust. Our visions have vaporized. Our hopes have withered. Our life has left. We feel defeated...dull...dead. But God is waiting to visit us in our affliction. When we cry out to Him, He will respond with love, assurance, and power.
"[I] shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live" (Ezekiel 37:14).
"But God ... hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)" (Ephesians 2:4,5).
Did God need Ezekiel to bring about this fantastic resurrection? Would He have done it without any human help? The surest answer we can give is Ezekiel's own: "O Lord GOD, thou knowest" (Ezekiel 37:3).
Having said that, we also know this equally well: God did in fact use Ezekiel to prophesy what He would do shortly as well as later on. The wonderful fact is, God wants to use His people to do His work here on earth. "For we are labourers together with God..." (1 Corinthians 3:9). Imagine that!
Three times in this lesson God declares what He will do and then also declares, "Ye shall know." Just as promise comes before fulfillment, so faith comes before knowledge. That is how we must relate to God and His Word -- we believe first and let Him bring knowledge later and in His own time.
"And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge" (2 Peter 1:5).
God does what He does according to His own sovereign will and wise purposes. Just as He carried Ezekiel to a valley full of bones, so He also does with us at times. Sometimes He even does so without choosing to inform us of His purposes. It is up to us to believe that He knows what He is doing and why He is doing it. It is up to us to surrender in faith and love to His doings.
That said, we can pick out some purposes from today's lesson God declares what He will do and then also declares, "Ye shall know." Just as promise comes before fulfillment, so faith comes before knowledge. That is how we must relate to God and His Word -- we believe first and let Him bring knowledge later and in His own time.from Ezekiel's life. God challenged both Ezekiel's vision and his faith: "Son of man, can these bones live?" (Ezekiel 37:3). I'm sure when Ezekiel first saw the bones, he didn't imagine them returning to life. But then God asked His question and the scope of Ezekiel's vision had to have expanded way beyond what he would have even thought to consider initially. God also revealed Ezekiel's useful place in His doings: "Prophesy upon these bones.... Prophesy unto the wind.... Prophesy and say unto them..." (Ezekiel 37:4,9,12). And in the course of all this, God also showed Ezekiel His power.
But first, Ezekiel had to be set "down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones" (Ezekiel 37:1). The next time you are in that valley, remember God may have in mind to challenge your vision and faith, to show you your useful place in His doings, and to show you His power. Furthermore, search the Scriptures for other purposes God may be executing in your life. Here are just three.
"But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:32).
"But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10).
"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:7).
When the Apostle John was on Patmos, did he genuinely experience that of which he wrote, or was it a vision? "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet" (Revelation 1:10). The one man was "carried...out in the spirit of the LORD" and the other "was in the Spirit" -- what does that mean?
One probable explanation is that God allowed both of these men to actually experience a dimension of eternity -- seeing things happen which had not yet taken place in that other dimension called Time.
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