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Fifth Sunday in Lent

March 28, 2020 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Lent

Passage: Ezekiel 37:1–37:14

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Date: March 29, 2020; Lent 5; Series A
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • The prophet Ezekiel was taken away in the Spirit of the Lord and was given a troubling vision.
  • He describes seeing a bunch of sun bleached, weather beaten, lifeless, dry and dead bones scattered throughout a valley.
  • Just imagine this scene!  What utter hopelessness.  
  • Dry bones are the symbol of death and destruction. 
  • This vision was to illustrate the hopelessness of God’s people during this time.  
  • They had turned their backs on God, they had gone their own way, and as a result they found themselves being punished through being held captive in Babylon.
  • This vision makes it clear, that apart from God, we are dead.  We are dried up dead bones scattered in the valley of death.
  • But, Ezekiel is shown that despite the appearance of utter despair and death - there is hope!  
  • God will save his people!  He will make them alive again!  He will make us alive again!
  • We cling to this most important Good News of life, hope, and joy as we navigate the deep valleys of this life that can leave us feeling hopeless.
  • There are a lot of people who are afraid and are feeling hopeless right now in the midst of these difficult days of a pandemic.
  • There are a lot of people who are afraid and are feeling hopeless now because of Illness, depression, lonliness, financial uncertainty, personal tensions, guilt, the death of a loved one.
  • These can cause us to feel hopeless.  They can leave us in a state of despair.
  • They can lead us to cry out with the people of Israel, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off” (Ezekiel 37:11).
  • But, God’s message to the people of Israel (and to each and every one of us today!) is that we are not cut off from him.  We are not isolated in the dark valleys.
  • God promises you that there is hope.
  • It’s interesting to note what God ordered Ezekiel to do in this vision. 
  • God commanded Ezekiel to preach to them – to prophecy, to proclaim, the Good News that they will be restored and be brought back to life, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them…Behold, I will cause breath to enter you and you shall live” (Ezekiel 37:4-5) 
  • And Ezekiel reports that preaching God’s Word worked! “So I prophesied as he  commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived” (Ezekiel 37:10). 
  • And nothing has changed!  God’s Word of promise continues to work in our lives today!
  • We have life breathed into us when God’s Word is prophesied and we hear it.
  • St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).  
  • In this life we find ourselves in situations where things appear to be nothing but hopeless.  We find ourselves lost and turned upside down.  
  • We might especially be feeling that today with COVID-19. 
  • But God promises that he will see us through and our future with him is secure and certain.  Hear that most wonderful news!
  • The Holy Spirit dwells in us giving us faith in the victory over sin and death that Jesus Christ has won for the world.
  • Sin is the problem.  Sin is the cause of all of our trouble, all of our guilt and misery, all of our sickness and pain.  Sin is the cause of our despair and it condemns us to death.
  • But we hear in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).
  • Just as God set free his people from captivity in Babylon, so he sets us free from the captivity to sin and death.
  • St. Paul says that this is true for all those who are in Christ Jesus.
  • What does it mean to be “in” Christ Jesus?  
  • Well, to be in Christ means that you have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit who dwells in you and has given you faith that receives God’s salvation.
  • Again, from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).
  • Just as the breath gave life back to the dry dead bones in Ezekiel’s vision, so the Holy Spirit gives life back to us - we who were dead in our trespasses.  
  • It’s interesting to note that the same Hebrew word that is used in Genesis for the breath of life breathed into Adam is the same word that is used here in Ezekiel.  
  • It is the gift of life, new life, given freely to us for the sake of Jesus.
  • The gift of life that we receive through the waters of our baptism.
  • The gift of life that we receive as we hear, read, and meditate upon God’s Word.
  • The gift of life we receive through Christ’s true body and true blood given from his altar.
  • Through these means of God’s grace we receive the gift of faith and we are in Christ.  
  • We have ligaments, tendon, muscle, and skin put back on and we receive the breath of eternal life!  
  • Jesus boldly declared, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25).
  • My brothers and sisters in Christ, you have been taken from being a bunch of dry, sun-bleached lifeless bones - and you have been made into a living person with a living faith with the gift of eternal life.  
  • “Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people…I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:12).  Amen.  
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

More in Lent

April 10, 2020

Good Friday (Full Service)

April 9, 2020

Maundy Thursday (Full Service)

March 22, 2020

Fourth Sunday in Lent