For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

37:1.  “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,”


Ezekiel was carried by the Holy Spirit to a valley full of bones of men who had been slain, see verse 9, in the midst of which he was set down.  Those dry bones represent Israel, dead nationally, and scattered amongst the nations, with no obvious hope of recovery. 


That valley is also a symbolic picture of this world filled with men and women spiritually “dead in trespasses and sins,” Eph 2:1. Some see in it a picture of Babylon to which Israel had been carried captive.


37:2.  “And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.”


The Spirit caused him to walk in every direction among the bones so that he could see how very many there were, and also how very dry they were.


37:3.  “And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live?  And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.”


In response to God’s question whether those dry bones could ever live again, the prophet declared the obvious, that only God could know.


Relative to salvation, God foreknows those who will experience the new birth through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, believers being “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God,” 1 Peter 1:2.  (It is to be noted that foreknowledge is to be distinguished from predestination.  No one is predestinated either to be saved or lost, whether to accept or reject Christ as Savior being each man’s free-will choice; but once a man becomes a believer he is predestinated to be conformed to Christ’s image, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son,” Romans 8:29).


37:4.  “Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.”


The bones must first “hear the word of the Lord,” and all who would be saved must also hear and obey His word, as it is written, “Faith cometh by hearing (obeying), etc.,” Ro 10:17.


37:5.  “Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live.”


37:6.  “And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.”


God then answered His own question: He would restore those dry bones to life, thus filling the valley with living people; and the process by which He did it was to breath the breath of life into them, as He did to the inert form of Adam, breath being a biblical symbol of the Holy Spirit.


Their receiving new bodies may be also a foreshadowing of the fact that believers will also receive new resurrection bodies.


“... and ye shall know that I am the Lord.”  Only those who are born again can know God.


37:7.  “So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.”


The “noise” is also translated a rattling: clattering: rustling, and by The American Standard Version as “an earthquake,” the result being that the bones joined themselves together again into the forms of individual human skeletons.


37:8.  “And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.”


The miracle continued with the transformation of the skeletons into human bodies, but they were dead.


37:9.  “Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.”


The wind is a biblical symbol of the Holy Spirit, see Ac 2:1-4, and the “four winds” or four quarters of the earth, speak here of His omnipresence.  His infusing life into these dead bodies by merely breathing upon them, is simply a large scale duplication of the miracle of creation when God breathed life into Adam.


37:10.  “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.”


37:11.  “Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.”


The resurrected multitude represents the spiritual revival of Israel in the Great Tribulation, the new nation consisting of those Jews who will be converted during that terrible three and a half year era.  But the faithless Israel of Ezekiel’s day, languishing in Babylonian captivity, lamented that she was a nation without hope, as good as dead, like severed limbs withered and dry, national restoration a seeming impossibility.


37:12.  “Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.”


In spite of their sinful state God still owns them as His people; but the mention of opened graves and resurrected people is not to be taken literally, for Scripture offers no support for the thesis that any resurrected people will return to the millennial earth.  The bodies raised at the conclusion of the resurrection  of life at the end of the Tribulation, will be of OT saints and those believers who will have died in the seven-year Tribulation era.  Their glorified resurrection bodies will be joined to their souls in heaven where they will remain eternally.  They will not return to earth.  The only people on the millennial earth will be the living believing survivors from the Great Tribulation, and the children who will be born to them in the Millennium.


The language of the verse now being considered is a metaphoric description of Israel’s national restoration and return to her land from Assyrian and Babylonian captivity, that regathering being also a foreshadowing of the return which will see her gathered back from the Diaspora that has left her scattered amongst the Gentiles for the past two thousand years, but from which she has been returning since 1948, that return being the evidence of the imminence of the Rapture of the Church, which will be followed by the seven-year Tribulation era.


37:13.  “And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,”


“... graves” continues to be the metaphoric description of Israel’s dead state, spiritually and nationally. 


37:14.  “And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.”


This describes the converted Israel that will emerge from the Great Tribulation, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, possessing eternal life, and being brought into the enjoyment of millennial Canaan, the fulfillment of all that He had promised being their assurance that their God was omnipotent as well as omniscient and omnipresent.


37:15.  “The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying,”


37:16.  “Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions.”


A stick was a wooden tablet, and upon one of them Ezekiel was to write the name of Judah and his companions, the tribe of Benjamin.  Upon the other he was to write the name Ephraim and the remaining tribes of Israel, Ephraim being Joseph’s secondborn son and heir.


37:17.  “And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.”


37:18.  “And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these?”


37:19.  “Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.”


37:20.  “And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes.”


37:21.  “And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:”


37:22.  “And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:”


This was the pantomimic announcement of the fact that in the Millennium God will heal the breach that occurred in 931 B.C., in the days of Rehoboam, which divided the nation into two parts; Judah and Benjamin remaining loyal to David; and the remaining tribes following Jeroboam.


37:23.  “Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.”


In the Millennium there would be no idolatry, no filthy practices, no disobedience.  The repentant believing Israel that will pass out of the Great Tribulation into the Millennium, will

have been cleansed from all sin, and will walk in happy fellowship with God.


37:24.  “And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.”


Relative to the millennial David, see comments on 34:24.


A statute is something that has been appointed, a commandment, a decree; and a judgment is a verdict, sentence, or charge.


37:25.  “And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.”


The eternal duration of their dwelling in millennial Canaan is explained by the fact that the Millennium will simply be the introduction to a state of bliss that will continue for ever when there are a new heavens and a new earth.


It seems too, that the descendant of David who will rule in the Millennium, will also continue to rule when there are a new heavens and a new earth, he of course, reigning as the regent of the Lord Jesus Christ.


37:26.  “Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place (settle) them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.”


Many translations render “peace” as “prosperity,” so that the covenant between God and the people in the Millennium will be the assurance of peace and phenomenal abundance that will continue beyond the Millennium into the eternal state on the new earth.


The millennial sanctuary or temple, which is described in chapters 40-43, will apparently also continue eternally.


37:27.  “My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”


It is unclear whether this tabernacle is different from the sanctuary mentioned in the preceding verse, or whether it refers to a part of that sanctuary corresponding to the Most Holy Place in the wilderness Tabernacle.  This latter seems the more likely.


37:28.  “And the heathen (the Gentiles) shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.”


God’s sanctuary in the midst of Israel will be the proof to the millennial nations that He has set Israel apart to be His Own special people for ever.

[Ezekiel 38]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough