Sunday, May 31, 2015


The Spirit of the LORD set Ezekiel in a valley of dry bones and asked him, ‘Can these bones live?’ (Ezek. 37:3) What are bones anyway? I suppose that they are the internal scaffolding that supports the body. Why would Joseph wish to have his bones carried out of Egypt when God rescued Israel from slavery? (Gen. 50:25) Why would Moses take the bones of Joseph with him? (Ex. 13:19) Are we done with our bones when we die? Towards his latter years my father would often say that he was ready for the ‘bone-yard.’ Can bones live?

In the Bible it is considered a thing to be dreaded to have your bones left as food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the field (Ezek. 29:5). Abraham made such a big deal out of buying a burial plot for Sarah and himself (Gen. 23; 25:10). Isaac and Rebekah his wife were subsequently buried in the same cave. As was Jacob’s wife Leah. Then Joseph and his brothers buried his father Jacob in the same plot, just as Jacob had commanded them, ‘For his sons carried him to the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, before Mamre, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite as property for a burial place’ Genesis 50:13; John 4:5. The LORD Himself buried the bones of Moses. No one knows exactly where (Deut. 34:6). None less than the Devil disputed about the body of Moses (Jude 9). Can bones live?

Some believe in cryonics, having their dead bodies frozen and stored in safety, hoping science will advance enough to be able to resuscitate them. I suppose the opposite to this might be cremation, which to most reasonable minds, would place the dead person well beyond the reach of resuscitation. For, who would expect human dust in an urn sitting on some mantelpiece ever to spring back to life? Can bones live?

As we have seen in the few pages of the Bible mentioned above, believers did not wish that their bodies be thrown on the scrap heap after death. Rather, they wanted to have their bones stored in a safe place. When Jesus was taken down from the cross His dead body was not thrown in the village dump as so much refuse. Rather, His body was carefully washed, wrapped in strips of linen with spices mingled through them. Why all this special care for bodies even after death? The answer is stated in the Apostles’ Creed so-called where therein is written: ‘I believe in the resurrection of the body … and the life everlasting.’ This is why we keep our graveyards neat and tidy! Bones can live!

In the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which has been taught to many young Christians since it was written in 1647, we read the following: ‘What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death? The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.’ Notice that Christians believe that their bodies remain united to Christ – even in the grave! He has indeed promised never to leave nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). Yes, I am more than mere flesh and bone. However, I am not less than flesh and bone either! I am body, soul, spirit. As the Apostle under inspiration of the Holy Spirit says, ‘Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’ 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Thus we are soul-spirits with bodies. Jesus saves the whole man – including our bones! Bones can live!

The resurrected Jesus made sure that Thomas and the rest of the disciples knew that He was resurrected with the self-same body that was nailed to the tree. ‘“Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and feet. But while they still did not believe for joy, and marvelled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” So they gave Him a piece of fish and some honeycomb. He took it and ate it in their presence’ Luke 24:39-43. Bones can live!

Meanwhile back in the Valley of Dry Bones with Ezekiel: ‘So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. As I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. And He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain that they may live.’” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army’ Ezekiel 37:7-10. Bones can live!

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