Painting a Picture for Us
Ezekiel was in exile with his fellow Israelites. They were cut off from their temple, their farms, their relatives, their friends. They were surrounded by an alien way of life and taunted by their captors.
Is there anything worse than feeling hopeless? The feelings these people experienced are described in Ezekiel 37, and they are feelings we all at one time or another have experienced: “Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, there’s nothing left of us.”
Ezekiel painted a picture of what God was going to do, a picture that none of the people could see because they were too busy feeling sorry for themselves. He told them what he saw, and then they began to respond to what God was doing instead of to what they were feeling. They began to live by the Word of God, by faith rather than sight.
Ezekiel’s visions marked the transition between a time when Israel was spiritually as dry as a bone and a time of new life. In a few years, the people would be whole again, praising God, studying Scripture, walking by faith, loving their neighbors. It would be a marvelous and miraculous resurrection.
God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breath life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”Ezekiel 37:5-6, The Message
The important word in this passage is breath: “I’m bringing the breath of life to you,” says God (verse 5). The words spirit and breath are the same in Hebrew. God breathes into us, and we breathe in his life. We aren’t in utopia; we aren’t free of pain; we aren’t without troubles. But we’re alive as we’ve never been before. We’re made well and whole. We inhale the life-giving breath of God and exhale faith and hope and love.
“Painting a Picture for Us” is one of 600 insights found in The Message Devotional Bible. Based on a sermon he preached in 1978, Peterson in his humble and generous way reminds us all that the breath of life is the greatest gift we’ve been given.