Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”
“O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”
Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” (Ezekiel 37:3-6)
Relate: I want to go visit the place where the Western church was launched. It isn’t far from me. I could take a bus down on a Saturday morning, take another back Saturday night and still spend most of the day in the city. It’s that close. In Bible times, the city was called Antioch of Syria (or Syrian Antioch) to distinguish it from another Antioch in Pisidia as well as more than a dozen other Antioch’s that never made it on to the pages of the Bible. Syrian Antioch is called the cradle of Christianity. It was the city where the very term “Christian” was coined. it was also the sending church for the missionary journeys of Paul and Barnabas.
I’ve been to some other sites that are on those missionary journeys. I’ve walked from Antalya to Isparta passing through Perge (Perga in Bible times) and coming close to Antioch of Pisidia (now Yalvaç). I’ve been to Ephesus. I’ve seen churches that are more than a millennium old before Christopher Columbus even discovered America. My adopted home has a long, and rich, and deep history of Christianity. All of the seven churches in Revelation have Turkish locales. Three of the books in the New Testament are named for cities within its borders and more than half the others were written here.
My home has a rich history of Christianity but an impoverished present. If you were to take all of the old churches that still exist and restore them for their intended use nearly all of them would remain empty. There aren’t even close to enough Christians now to fill the few surviving sanctuaries even though there are hundreds of times more people living in Turkey now than did in the first century. A place that once was an oasis of life is now one of the most spiritually dead places on the planet. If there ever was a time and place for God to breathe life into dead bones it is here and now.
React: What are the dead bones in your life, home, or community? Is there a practice you used to do with your family that has died the death of the modern busy schedule? Is there a sibling or a friend who once was vibrant and on fire on Christ who now could not be farther from God? Has your own prayer life, or hope, or joy, or innocence been stolen by the cruel ravages of life’s circumstances? Have you given up on the One you once called Lord and Savior? Does it seem impossible to return to what was once there? Take heart. The same God who spoke to Ezekiel still breathes life into death today. So speak to those dry bones: Come alive!
Through our natural eyes it seems that there is so much we have lost. I can look to my left and right and see old churches now used as mosques and museums. The enemy has whispered lies to the hearts of millions and then killed off the ones remaining who would not abandon You. But we know You are greater than any present realities. You are stronger than the pull of death. There is more, greater yet to come. The latter days will be more glorious than the former. God, I claim that for my nation, for my community, for our families and ourselves. I call out to these dry bones: come alive.