The hand of the Lord came upon me.
He brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry.
And God said to me, ‘Mortal/son of man, can these bones live?’Ezekiel 37:1–3
Visions, Parables, and Poetry
As you read Revelation alongside Ezekiel, ponder the sturdy thread that connects these two prophets across the centuries . . .
Centuries after the devastation of Ezekiel’s beloved community, Mark’s Christians endured the assault of Rome within that same land. Once again, the city was leveled and the Temple destroyed. Jesus’ followers in the troubled days of Mark and John of Patmos remembered the promise that the Risen Christ would come again (now would be a good time, they must have been thinking). But, no, difficult times dragged on and on . . .
Surely the words and the experiences of their ancestor Ezekiel in exile helped early Christians hold on to hope.
The eschatological hope of this apocalyptic poetry has echoed again and again throughout human history. African American slaves who tilled the sandy soil of the South often sang spirituals drawn from images of the prophets: “Dem bones, dem bones gonna rise again! Now hear the word of the Lord!”
Can you imagine how dry the bones of these weary people must have felt? How hopeless their lives must have seemed?
Even in our own day, too many of our Black sisters and brothers continue to live their lives in too many dry bone valleys.
But as you read Ezekiel and the Revelation, note the prophets and “the word of the Lord” gave no hope that the people and land of their day would be spared from destruction . . . . The hope the prophets offered was often given for future generations who, on the other side of their various devastations, had opportunity to become a more faithful people than their ancestors had been.
So oppressed and marginalized people continue to hold onto the hope expressed by prophets like Ezekiel and John, the stories of Scripture seeping into their bones, finding connection in their joints, breathing in and out across generations until something new is finally brought to life.
This ancient vision from Ezekiel continues to speak to the beleaguered faithful in every age, offering courage to endure the present as well as finding hope that points to the future: “these bones gonna rise again!”
Maybe not now, maybe not soon, or even in our lifetime—but someday!
Read more at Charlotte Vaughan Coyle, Living in The Story: A Year to Read the Bible and Ponder God’s Story of Love and Grace (Resource Publications).