Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Dry Bones Live Again

Dannah Gresh: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth found out about some friends’ faltering marriage. Many would say, “They won’t make it.”

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: But here’s what I know: Dry bones can live again! 

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for Friday, December 6, 2019. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Nancy’s going through the story of Ezekiel and the Valley of Dry Bones, from Ezekiel Chapter 37. Nancy gave the message earlier this fall at the Revive '19 conference. Let’s listen.

Nancy: Now let me just remind us, you cannot make dry bones live again. It's entirely a work of God. God says, “I will do this.” But you know what? That takes the pressure off of us to make things happen. It takes the pressure off of us to change people's lives.

So Ezekiel says in verse 7: 

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them (vv. 7–8).

Just exactly what God had said He would do. God keeps His promises. It was a miracle! But there was one tiny little bit of a problem.

Verse 8 goes on, “There was no breath in them.” The bones were rattling around together. They were making noise, but without breath they were just corpses. They were still dead. There was still no life. No breath.

It's a picture of, I think, what's going on in a lot of the Christian world today, particularly here in the West. A lot of our churches, a lot of our lives, there’s a lot of coming together. There’s a lot of big events where we make a lot of noise. There are a lot of mega churches, a lot of teaching, a lot of preaching, a lot of music, a lot of impressive appearance. But very little evidence of true spiritual life. No power of God. No evidence of the Spirit of God. No mark of the supernatural. No breath of God.

God wasn't done with the people in Ezekiel's day. He wasn't going to leave them in that condition. So notice that He didn't just say to Ezekiel, “Okay, you've given the message, let Me take it from here.”

Ezekiel could not breathe life into those dry, lifeless corpses. But that didn't mean he was supposed to do nothing and just stand around and wait for God to do everything. God had told Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones. And now God gives him another instruction. Look at verse 9. 

Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, 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.

Now, you see the word breath three times in that verse. You also see the word wind. In the Hebrew language the word breath and wind are the same word. It’s the word ruach. It’s used four times in verse 9. It’s used ten times in this passage the first fourteen verses. It’s the same word that’s used in verse 1 for the Spirit of the Lord.

When you see the word “breath,” when you see the word “wind,” when you see the word “Spirit” in the Old Testament, it’s this word ruach.

There have been seasons of my life when I was trying to get fit, and I would go to the gym and find a trainer. I said, “I’m going to hurt myself if I do this without help.” So I’d get a trainer.

Do you know something the trainer says to me most often? “Don't forget to breathe. Breathe.” Because you’re doing these, whatever these reps are of something, and you're about to die. And so, what do you do? You start holding your breath. Right? And so the trainer, wisely, he says, “Breathe. Breathe.”

We are utterly dependent on the breath of God, the Spirit of God, for life because breath is life.

What does it tell us in Genesis 2:7? “The Lord God formed a man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living creature.”

If the bones are going to live, they have to have the ruach—the Breath, the Spirit, the Wind of God. We have no life apart from Him.

Psalm 104 tells us, “When You take away their breath, their ruach, they die and return to the dust. When You send forth Your Spirit, Your ruach, they are created and You renew the face of the ground” (see vv. 29–30).

Ladies, God is in the business of bringing the dead to life. Renewing and redeeming the face of this fallen world. And He does it by means of His very Breath, the Wind, the Spirit of God.

God is in the business of bringing the dead to life.

So Ezekiel is told first to preach to the dry bones. And then he is told to speak to the Breath, the ruach.

This speaks us to of the role of prayer in revival and spiritual awakening. Ezekiel prays. He pleads with God for a work of His Spirit to bring these corpses to life. He says to the Breath, “Come from the four winds, O breath” (v. 9). You know what that says literally? “Come from the ruach, oh ruach—Wind, Breath, come, breathe on these bodies that they may live.”

You want to see dry bones in the valley around you live? Summon the Wind, the breath of God's Spirit. Only the Spirit of God can do what needs to be done to bring breath and life to these lifeless bones. So cry out to Him.

Cry out to Him on behalf of that wayward son or daughter or grandchild, that husband who doesn't know Jesus, that person in the workplace who has no life, that church that has so many people profess something about Jesus but they don't seem to possess. Dead bones, dry bones everywhere. Pray to the Wind of the Spirit of God. Summon the Wind and say, “Come, O Wind. Come, O Breath. Breathe on these dead dry bones.”

You see, there will be no personal revival and there will be no corporate revival in our churches and in our world if we do not ask God to send it.

So, verse 10, Ezekiel says, 

I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath [What’s the word? The ruach] came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

What a stunning picture of the power of the Breath, the Spirit of God. What had been a graveyard full of very many very dry bones became an exceedingly great army standing on their feet ready to accomplish the purposes of God in their world.

Now, as we move into the last few verses of this passage, God explains the vision to Ezekiel and applies it to His people.

Then God said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off’” (v. 11).

Isn't it true that at times we look around us? What's going on even among those who claim to be the people of God and we think, There is no hope. These dry bones will never live again. But God. But the Spirit of God. But the Breath of God. With His Breath, His Spirit, there is hope for death to give way to glorious life.

Therefore prophesy, and say to them [the people of God], Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. . . . And I will put my Spirit [What’s the word? My ruach, My Breath, My Spirit] within you, and you shall live (vv. 12, 14).

By the way, that's what happened when you became a Christian. The ruach, the Spirit, the Breath of God came into you, and you became alive. You had been dead, but you became alive.

But the times when we begin to once again walk not by the Spirit but by the flesh, and we start to look and act a lot like very dead, very dry bones. And what do we need to bring us back to life? The ruach, the power, the Breath, the Spirit of God. This would be the work of God among the people of God. He is the one who gives us His Spirit. He is the one who brings the dead back to life.

And what would be the end result then, and what will be the end result when we go back to our valleys and God breathes His ruach into those dry bones? 

Then you shall know that I am the Lord (v. 14).

What's the end result of the work of the Spirit of God in our hearts and our churches and our world? Is it so we can be the triumphant majority in government, in politics, in culture?

Is it so people can respect us? Is it so we can look good to the world? Is it so we can be happy and peaceful and joyful?

Listen, the goal is all we have to care about. It's all we have to live for and that is that the world will know that He is the Lord. That we will know that He is the Lord in a way that we never have before. That we will know and trust His power, His greatness, His majesty, His glory, and ultimately that the world will know that He is God.

There will be no revival if we do not ask God to send it.

Our world is clueless about who God really is. I don't have to tell you that. Sometimes I think we forget why they're clueless. Let me tell you, it is not just because of all the false religions and false teaching out there. That doesn't help. But I think the biggest reason that the world has no clue who God is because of the dry bones in so many of our Christian circles, churches, lives. We don't look any different than the dry bones of the world. We know a lot about God, but far too often we are not experiencing the living, vibrant power of God.

When God's Spirit, His ruach, breathes His Breath, His ruach, His life into His people, His glory; His power and beauty will be revealed not only to us but to those who have no idea who He is. They just have never seen the power of God on display through the people of God.

Many of you have read, as I have, and loved C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia.

In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, as you may remember, there are four sibling children who step into a wardrobe, and they find themselves in Narnia, that once magnificent land that has been placed under a curse by the wicked queen.

She rules the land with an iron fist, and she has caused it to be always winter and never Christmas. There is no relief, no hope. Her secret police force of ferocious wolves watch and control every action in the land. Her castle is filled with statues of her enemies that she has turned to stone.

In Lewis's story the children encounter Aslan, the lion, the Christ figure, and they grow to love him. And then they watch as he lays down his life for Narnia. And then they watch as the effects of the curse on the land begin to be reversed. Flowers begin to bud and to bloom where once everything was perpetually frozen.

Then in a breathtaking climax, Aslan puts the two sisters on his back, and he races at break-neck speed across the land to the queen's castle where he intends to liberate the creatures who have been turned to stone by the wicked witch.

When they get to the castle, they find it surrounded by high walls and tightly locked gates. No problem for Aslan. Aslan leaps over the castle wall effortlessly, and they all land in a courtyard full of lifeless statues frozen by the queen.

Let me read to you a little excerpt of what happens next.

Lucy cried out, “All those stone animals and people, too. It's like a museum.”

“Hush,” said Susan. “Aslan is doing something.”

He was indeed. He had bounded up to the stone lion and breathed on him. Then he whisked around and breathed also on the stone dwarf which was standing a few feet from the lion. Then he pounced on a tall stone dryad which stood behind the dwarf, turned rapidly aside to deal with the stone rabbit on his right and rushed on to two centaurs. Everywhere the statutes were coming to life. Creatures were running after Aslan and dancing around him until he was almost hidden in the crowd.

Instead of all that deadly white, the courtyard was now a blaze of colors. And instead of the deadly silence, the whole place rang with the sound of happy roarings, brayings, yelpings, barkings, squealings, cooings, neighings, stampings, shouts of “hurrah,” songs and laughter, all celebrating to the glory of the lion.

This world is under the curse of the wicked one. As far as we can see, he has turned hearts everywhere to stone, or, in the metaphor of Ezekiel, dry bones everywhere. Very many, very dry bones.

But Aslan is doing something. (applause)

Some of our own hearts were pretty dry when we got here yesterday. Over the past twenty-four hours God has been breathing fresh life into us through His Spirit, His ruach, and His Word. And now He is sending us out from here to the people who desperately need us to summon the ruach, to summon the Wind, to summon the Breath of His Spirit that they may live.

While I was working on this message last week, I received a text about a believer in our community where Robert and I live whose marriage is in serious trouble, and the mate was reaching out for help. The situation seems impossible. But here is what I know: Dry bones can live again. (applause)

I've seen Him do it before. People saw Him do it in New York City in 1857 and 1858. Over a million people born into the kingdom of God during that revival. It started with six men praying in a city full of dry bones.

I've seen Him do it before, and I know that Aslan is up to something. He’s at work. His ruach, His Breath makes all the difference in the world. He can do it in this marriage that I was texted about. He can do it in your marriage, in your home, in your church, in your country, in your small group, in your community. The Breath of God can make dry bones live again.

One of our Revive Our Hearts team members has been fasting and praying earnestly for this event over the past week. She sent me a text a few days ago, and she said, “I feel really burdened for the women represented in the thousand plus groups joining us by livestream. I ache for revival to break out in local churches. I can't bear the thought of local churches not being changed.”

And her burden wasn't just for those of you who have groups livestreaming but for all of us as we go back to our churches, very many of which has very dry bones.

She said, “I can't bear to think of these churches not being changed.” And then she said, “Come Holy Spirit. We're clanging gongs without You.”

That's what we've been praying for. “Come, O Wind. Come, O Ruach. Come, O Spirit. Come O Breath of God. Breathe on us. Breathe through us as You take us from this place. O Lord, come. That's our prayer. Come, Spirit of God. We summon the Wind. Breathe on us Breath of God. Fill us with life anew. Come. Breathe Your life into the dry bones around us so that all may know that You are the Lord and that You have done it.”

Dannah: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, speaking to an audience of several thousand earlier this fall in Indianapolis. I was one of those women, and I was deeply moved. My faith was radically changed to pray for some things that are dry bones in my life. I wasn't the only one. There were other women at that conference who also radically changed.

Our team met a young woman named Jennifer. Now, when Nancy described those dry bones, that was a picture of Jennifer’s heart. She began life in a very tough situation.

Jennifer: My mom was in the foster system. Then she married my dad to legally become an adult and not be in the foster system any more. Then they had me a year later. I think there was some heavy drug use and some immaturity. So I actually was born in Portland, Oregan. My father flew me to Alabama and left me with some family who were alcoholics.

I had this one Jesus-loving grandmother in all of the world that was my world that actually ended up getting custody of me and raising me.

Dannah: That one grandmother had a close relationship with Jesus and took Jennifer to church.

Jennifer: But I knew that I didn’t have what she had.

Dannah: Jennifer was spiritually dead like Nancy’s been describing in this series. And this had dramatic results in her life. She describes what her childhood was like.

Jennifer: Chaos. There was a lot of boyfriends, drinking, sneaking out of the house. Just everything you can imagine as a parent being a nightmare, that's how I was as a child.

Dannah: Jennifer’s grandmother continued praying for her life. Those prayers were answered when Jennifer met an older woman who invited her to go through the Seeking Him Bible study written by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Tim Grissom. This study leads readers in the process of personal revival. It’s kind of like watching God raise those dead bones to life in Ezekiel. Nancy and her co-author help you discover the joy of humility, repentance, forgiveness, and sexual purity. And God used this study to open Jennifer’s eyes to the truth of the gospel.

Jennifer: I think everything became open and I could understand all of a sudden.

Dannah: Jennifer knew the Seeking Him study was an invitation to leave behind her old way of living and discover the joy of living for Christ.

Jennifer: That study left no stone unturned in my heart. Every question, there was no getting around what you really look like inside.

Dannah: The change in Jennifer’s life was obvious to everyone.

Jennifer: There was such a night and day contrast.

Dannah: Jennifer began leading other women through Seeking Him, sharing the truth that had changed her life. In fact, her young daughter started recruiting people too. Once Jennifer was in a bookstore leading a discussion. Her daughter was playing in the kids area.

Jennifer: And so she saw a little friend playing and asked the mom of that friend, "Hey, my mom's in the cafe doing a Bible study, would you like to go?" And the woman said, "Sure." So she came to the cafe, and I still have her number written in my original Seeking Him Bible study. She did; she started coming weekly to study Seeking Him with us. 

Nancy: Wow, Dannah, thanks for sharing that real-life illustration of the truths we’ve been exploring in Ezekiel. The Lord sure caused those dry bones to live again in Jennifer’s life.

Dannah: He did! And I know your Seeking Him study has been used like that in countless lives. Earlier this year you taught through that material here on Revive Our Hearts. And we released that teaching on a new DVD series so small groups can get together and use this resource.

Nancy: I love the way that this story touches on several Revive Our Hearts outreaches—the resources, the conferences, this program. And they are possible because listeners like you get involved. You pray and you give so we can continue calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. We especially need your involvement here in December. Some friends of this ministry have seen how God is at work through these outreaches and they want to encourage you to give. So they have agreed to match the gift of every listener, dollar for dollar. But to get in on this match, we need to hear from you by December 31.

We are asking the Lord to stir the hearts of our listeners to meet this challenge because there are so many more women just like Jennifer. These women need to discover what it means to come alive in Christ. And you can help make it possible for us to speak to them.

Dannah: Now remember, the matching challenge ends December 31, so let us hear from you soon. To give toward this challenge, visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959.

On Monday you’re going to meet a sweet lady who has endured so much. She was diagnosed with cancer and then her husband left her to raise six sons on her own. But she wasn’t alone. She’ll show you how to handle storms in your life. Please join us Monday for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you seek revival. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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