“Son of man, can these bones live?”
Ezekiel 37:3 NIV
Sometimes it feels as if we have gone too far, and the damage is too great. We might wonder if it’s too late to stop the breakdown of the climate and the decimation of its wildlife. It can be lonely and deeply sad to think about the reality of environmental harm.
We were entrusted with a good earth, but so much of it has been poisoned, littered, abused, and exhausted. And we are now reaping what we have sown. It feels like things are unravelling. We find ourselves – like Ezekiel in the famous story in Ezekiel chapter 3 – in a valley of bones.
And God says to us: “Can these live again?”
It’s a question we might ask, as we read the news and look around at the world today.
When fire sweeps through the trees, and birds and animals die, can the forest ever live again? When floods sweep away coastal communities, will they ever be rebuilt? When we read of another extinction, is that really the end, forever?
And what about us? After so many years of ignoring the problems, and ignoring the suffering of others, can we feel again? Can we learn to care again?
But look at who is asking the question in Ezekiel 37:3. It’s not Ezekiel asking God, it’s God asking Ezekiel. The prophet stands with God in the valley of death, and God says: “What do you reckon?”
Look at what happens next. God doesn’t say, “stand back”, or “watch this”. He tells Ezekiel to prophesy over the dry bones. And then, as he speaks, the miracle happens. The bones join back together. They grow muscles and skin, an army lying down. And then God invites Ezekiel to speak again, and only then does life return, and they awake.
It’s interesting, isn’t it? God could just do that miracle without Ezekiel, but God invites his participation. As the prophet acts, believes, and speaks out in faith – that’s when God moves, and resurrection happens.
What do we think? Can the world be restored? Can the climate be saved and wildlife return? We shouldn’t wait around for a miracle, because perhaps God is throwing the question back to us. God expects our participation. As we act, as we speak up, as we move in hope – that’s when we realise just how amazing the power of God is. God invites us to ask for the impossible, and that’s when we discover that nothing is impossible with God.
Jeremy Williams is a writer, blogger, and founder of Earthbound Ventures, which finds new ways for people to connect with nature. If you need a regular dose of wonder, check them out here – www.earthboundventures.org
Bible text taken from:
New International Version (NIV) © Biblica, 2011