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. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “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.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
Then he 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.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.” Ezekiel 37:7-14 ESV
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:3-11 ESV
On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens in Washington State erupted with an incredibly powerful blast of steam and ash, causing huge destruction for miles around. Trees and plants were destroyed, as well as thousands of animals. The area around Mount St. Helens was devastated, and it seemed at the time as if life wouldn’t come back to the area. But over time, life did come back in amazing ways. Ants and gophers burrowed through the ash, looking for food. Fallen trees provided food for insects. Moss and some types of runner vines came back quickly. Areas where there had been towering trees for years were now open to sunlight, and small plants, animals, birds, and insects came back to these areas. New trees started to grow, and in time they developed a canopy, which brought back even more new life such as chipmunks, squirrels, weasels, and even elk. The area around Mount St. Helens is now thriving with new life and growth, where once there had been only death and destruction.
The prophet Ezekiel saw a vision of dry bones in a valley, and then he saw something amazing happen in his vision. The bones came together into bodies and were covered with flesh, and when God told Ezekiel to give the command, the breath of life came into these bodies. They stood on their feet, alive, a great army! The Lord told Ezekiel what this vision meant. The exiles had heard that Jerusalem had been destroyed and that most of the rest of the people had been taken into exile. It seemed as if their hope as a nation was gone. Could they ever live again as a people? God revealed to his prophet that there would be new life and a return to the promised land for them. He used the picture of life coming out of the grave for their renewal as a nation.
We have the same picture of new life that Jesus won for us when he died on the cross and rose again from the dead. Not only do we know that someday our dead bodies will come out of their graves to live forever in God’s new heaven and new earth, but we also know that this new life has already started for us. When we are baptized, the Lord puts our old, sinful life to death, and gives us a brand new life in Jesus. The life we are given through our baptism is just like coming out of a grave and coming to life again for now and always!
Dear Jesus, thank you for making us part of your death and resurrection, and giving us a new life that starts now and will last forever. Amen.