He stood on the shoulder of the hill, looking down into the valley. Sere under the sun, no breath stirred the stubble. Mounds of whitish stone lay beside the dry stream bed, littered the fallow climbing to the hill behind. He wondered for what purpose he was here.
“Use your eyes, look closer.”
He ventured down into the valley, his eyes searching the ground. Horrified he realised that the mounds were not stone but bones, bones heaped upon bones; bones littering the valley. He dragged his eyes from the dry bones at his feet with a heart-rending cry, “What is this place? A battleground? A slaughterhouse? A graveyard turned inside out?”
His desperate call went unanswered.
“Can these bones live?” The question was inexorable. He sought, but could not find, an answer.
“Only you know that, Lord.”
“Speak to the bones; tell them to listen to what I am saying. I, the Lord, will cause life to come into you. I will restore your sinews and your flesh. I will cover you with skin. I will put breath into your lungs. You will live, and you will know I am the Lord. Speak to the bones, Ezekiel, and cause them to hear my words.”
Ezekiel trembled, off-balance among the bones. He drew a deep breath. Walking among the mounds, stepping over the scattered bones, he spoke as he was directed. The surface of the valley shuddered; the mounds shifted, rustling as the bones began to move. There was a growing rattle in the valley as the bones sorted themselves, bone to bone, to form the framework of a man – men – an army of men.
Bone to bone: bare bones lying in the stubble of the field, spread before the Lord. The horror of the situation subsided as he watched the metamorphosis of the bones. Sinews joined them bone to bone; flesh formed around the framework; skin covered the flesh. A vast army, a lifeless army of men, filled the valley.
“Ezekiel, speak to the wind: say to the wind, come, winds, come from the four corners of the earth and fill these corpses with your breath, your life-giving breath.”
A swirl of wind came from the north, a bluster from the west; an easterly breeze caressed the valley and the south wind blew up a storm. With a mighty indrawn breath the army arose, they lived, they stood upon their feet.
“These dry bones are the bones of a nation: they have been torn from their land and divided among the peoples of the world. Their hope is lost. Speak to them, Ezekiel; speak to the whole house of Israel. Tell them I will open the graves of their banishment; I will bring them out of those graves; I will pour the wind of my Spirit into them with life-giving hope; and I will return them to their own land. They will return an undivided nation; there will no more be a schism between the tribes or the land. I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel. They will be my people and I will be their God. I, the Lord, have spoken it.”
*The Secretary of the Convention said that “God’s honour is bound up with, and the very foundations of heaven depend on, the restoration of the Jews to their own land.”*
Aliyah! Amid the rattle of musketry, after 2000 years of exile, despite the determination of the surrounding nations to prevent it, the nation of Israel is being reborn. Bone is joined with bone; the ligaments, the flesh, the skin are restored.
“Ezekiel, speak concerning the land: speak to the mountains, to the hills, to the rivers and to the valleys. Speak the word of the Lord to the land. There will be no more famine. I will call for the rain. The tree will yield its fruit; the field will bring forth its increase. The desolate land will be tilled: men will compare it with the garden of Eden. I will build again the ruined places. I the Lord have spoken it and I will do it.”
The wind is swirling in from the south, blustering from the west, sweeping through from the east and blowing up a storm from the north. The Spirit of the Lord is moving through the nation. Hear to the Word of the Lord.
Ezekiel Chapter 37; Ezekiel 36:6, 30, 35, 36
• Palestine: The Glory of all Lands; A. Sutherland 1896
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