We are continuing our study today of Ezekiel chapter 37:1-14 during our time together today. And I will read it for you again before we begin to unpack it further. Ezekiel writes…
Ezekiel 37:1-6 (ESV) The Valley of Dry Bones— 1 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley;[a] it was full of bones. 2 And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath[b] to enter you, and you shall live. 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
Now, as we talked about last week, this passage is very reflective of the opening of the book of Genesis. It says in…
Genesis 2:5-7 (ESV)-- 5 When no bush of the field[a] was yet in the land[b] and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 6 and a mist[c] was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— 7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
Composting Soil-- Some time ago I was talking with a gentleman about gardening. And he was telling me all about the soil he would use and how composting can be best utilized to bring nutrients to whatever it is you are planting. And he obviously knew a great deal more about it than I did. But what is interesting to me here in Genesis about the creation of man is that Adam was not created from dirt, but rather it says: then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground. And so we weren't even good dirt. It is not just that man is made up of the dirt of the ground, but we are the dust of the earth; the most fruitless, worthless part of the dirt. Now I know I am doing wonders for your self esteem right now. But if we are to embrace a Biblical view of our humanity, we have to come to terms with the fact that the only worth we have comes from the breath of God in our lives. If you don't have the breath of God, then you will die and return to dust very quickly.
“to manipulate with one’s hands”-- Now one thing that stands out to me is that God's creating us is a very personal; very intimate thing. The text says that he formed man from the dust of the ground. But the word here for "formed" in Hebrew literally means “to manipulate with one’s hands”.
My Dad and Ceramics-- My dad is a very gifted potter; and actually taught ceramics at Bethel College in Indiana for many years. And as a child I remember coming with him on numerous occasions to that ceramics building. I remember the smell of the clay, the many tools and instruments laying on the tables; the pieces made by various students scattered across the shelves. And I remember watching my dad on numerous occasions take a large piece of clay and slam it down onto the center of that potters wheel, wet his hands and begin spinning the wheel and placing his hands on that piece of clay. I remember it was amazing to watch because ever slight movement of his hands or fingers would produce almost instantly a new curve or new pattern on the clay. But watching him forming that clay was a very personal thing; seeing the relationship he had with the clay. That is the imagery behind this word “formed”; it is a very personal intimate thing. God takes the dust and shapes it. And in a sense He does this every time a person is created; anytime a child is conceived and born. The same word comes up in…
Jeremiah 1:5a (NIV)— 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you, before you were born I set you apart;
Sonogram: Forming and Breathing-- I like to take family videos whenever I can; and have done so on a variety of different occasions. But perhaps the footage that is most special to me is footage I shot of my own son’s first sonogram. It is something I have watched over and over again. He was about 3 months old at the time. And I remember that the nurse had a hard time getting a lock on him at first because of just how much he was moving. He was every bit as active as he is now. But as I watched him moving in there, wriggling and playing with his umbilical cord, the profoundness of how we are formed began to sink in in a much deeper way for me. The womb encloses us just like the hand of a potter surrounds the clay; just as God formed the dust of the ground. And then we are born; and suddenly we take that breath of air for the first time. First there is forming; and when the forming is complete, then there is breathing. And in a sense, God’s process of our creation is repeated again and again every time a new person is brought into the world.
How interesting it is that Jesus, in His dialogue with Nicodemus in John 3, chooses to use this birthing language in talking about the Holy Spirit; being “born again”. Though once we were formed, now we are re-formed; where once we took our first breath, now we are allowed to breath again of the breath of God. And we see, especially in this dialogue that the meaning of life; the reason we are formed; the reason God breaths into us was so that we might have a personal relationship with Him.
The “Ruach” of God-- Now in and throughout the Old Testament the word for breath is also the same word for spirit. And that is the word “ruach”. The breath that is in man and the breath of God (which of course is the Holy Spirit) is the same word. There is no distinction. So at base what we see is that the starting point of life comes when the person of the Spirit of God enters into your life; if you can even call it life before that moment. God is both the author and sustainer of life. How intimately does he sustain you? How many times have you breathed in the last minute? The average person breathes 18 times a minute. How interesting it is that written into our bodies 18 times a minute is the reality that we cannot live one second without the presence of God in our lives.
The Presence of God-- Now what does the Holy Spirit do in us? He brings into our life the very presence of God; and we are brought from death to life. As the scriptures say, all things become new. We are remade in the image of our creator. The glory of God is restored in our lives. And this is what God reveals to Israel through Ezekiel, His desire to bring them from death to life. God says in…
12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”
Jesus Fulfills the Giving of the Holy Spirit-- And we see the fulfillment of this promise in the New Testament, after Jesus’ Resurrection; when He leaves the disciples with the gift of the Holy Spirit who will empower their lives and ministry. In our message last week we read in…
John 20:22 (ESV)-- 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
Comforter— Now who is the Holy Spirit? Now in our English Bible we have in description of the Holy Spirit the word Comforter. And that is not a bad translation, but at best it is incomplete. The word here does not mean comforter in the sense of someone who makes you feel good in the midst of a difficult circumstance. Now sometimes He does, but the heart of this word comforter centers around the idea of giving strength; empowering another. So the Holy Spirit is the one who en-strengthens; who empowers; who enables us. Well, what does the Holy Spirit en-strengthen, empower, and enable us to do? To be Holy. Wherever the Holy Spirit comes, there He makes holy.
Ezekiel’s Name: “God Strengthens”-- Even Ezekiel’s name Yekhezqe’l means “God strengthens” or “May God strengthen,”. It is interesting how the climax of Ezekiel’s message is the restoration of God’s people through an outpouring and infilling of the Holy Spirit of God. And we see that even his name bears testimony to the work the Holy Spirit sought to do in Israel and what He wants to do in your life and in my life. God wants to empower and enable you; to give you strength to be who He has called you to be; a strength that can only come through repentance and our allowing Him to renew us daily in the image of our Creator. How does He do that? By giving us a new heart. Listen to His words in…
Ezekiel 36:25-28 (ESV)-- 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
God wants to bring life from your death; purity and holiness form your uncleanness. How does He do that? How do we become holy?
Moody: Air in the glass— [Speaking to a large audience, D.L. Moody held up a glass and asked, "How can I get the air out of this glass?" One man shouted, "Suck it out with a pump!" Moody replied, "That would create a vacuum and shatter the glass." After numerous other suggestions Moody smiled, picked up a pitcher of water, and filled the glass. "There," he said, "all the air is now removed." He then went on to explain that victory in the Christian life is not accomplished by "sucking out a sin here and there," but by being filled with the Holy Spirit.]
God desires today to fill you and me. He wants to fill us with His breath and with His life. He wants us to know Him face to face; mouth to mouth; breath to breath. God wants to be in a living, breathing relationship with us that is as close to us as our very breath. Maybe today you sense a need for God’s breath to be breathed anew in your life. If so, don’t wait. Just as your body is not made to live without breath, so also your heart will never be made alive until you allow God’s Holy Spirit to breath into you. Let Him in today. Amen.
Rev. Cameron Ury graduated from Asbury University in 2007 with a B.A. in Bible and Theology. From there he continued his studies at Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, MS. It was there that he met his wife Tanya, who graduated from WBS with her M.A. and M.Div. degrees. Cameron and Tanya got married in 2009. Cameron then graduated with his M.Div. degree with a pastoral concentration in 2011.
After shepherding churches in both Mississippi and Ohio, they joined the ministry team at Renton Park Chapel in January of 2018, where Cameron serves as Senior Pastor and Teacher.
Cameron is also the founder and host of Lechem Panim, a weekly radio show that airs on KGNW 820AM "The Word Seattle". The ministry of Lechem Panim is centered around leading people into the life-giving presence of God in and through Bible study, prayer, and active discipleship with the aim of ministering to a world that is in desperate need of the healing touch of Jesus Christ.