Tony Evans - Revival In The Valley of Dry Bones
I want to invite all men on a journey. A journey that has to do with why you matter. I know we're living in a day when the importance of men has been downgraded, has been reduced and in some places totally removed. Appropriate masculinity has gone unappreciated and undervalued. But God is calling men to rise to a whole new level. Remember God asked Adam a fundamental question, "Adam, where are you"? I like to say, "Adam, where you at"? Because this whole future of civilization will be keyed in to fulfilling your God-designed, God-created, and God-given role. So men, it's time to rise up. Over the next number of months, we're gonna be challenging men to a new level of manhood, personal, family, church, and cultural impact. And when God's men rise up, things are gonna change. When we fail to rise up, as the Bible makes clear, things will disintegrate. So, join me, let's go on a journey together, and see what happens when kingdom men rise.
God told Ezekiel in chapter 37, "Come here, boy. I want you to go down in that valley, and I want you to look at those dry bones". "The hand of the Lord was upon me," verse 1, says, "and brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley of bones. He caused me to pass around them, to check it out, and behold, there were many on the surface of the valley," and, lo, they weren't just dry. He says, "They were very dry". Now, the question is, "What are dry bones"? Verse 11 tells you, "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 has perished, and we are completely cut off.'" He says, "Dry bones was the whole nation of Israel and a hopeless situation". That's dry bones. "They were very dry," he tells us, because they had been there in that place a long time.
"Dry bones" is being in a situation where you don't see a way out. It is being in a scenario of major collapse, and you wanna know, "How in the world is this gon' get fixed"? "Dry bones" is where your situation, and in the case of Israel, their national situation was in major collapse and calamity. It was where stagnation had occurred, dashed dreams and hopes, barrenness, desolation, and there was no hope. You know you and we are in this low place called the valley, a valley is a low place, in this low place called a dry place, a place of dry bones when you have to look up to see bottom, when there are no ready apparent answers to your dilemma, and where you live life in crisis mode. That was the valley of dry bones.
If these people weren't physically dead, they weren't, Israel was still a physical nation, but he calls them a valley of dry bones because they were in a helpless, hopeless situation. Historically, they were now living in Babylon. They had been taken captive by the Babylonians, and he makes the statement at the end of verse 11, "and we are completely cut off". In other words, they have been completely cut off from fellowship with God because of their rebellion against God. Look at chapter 36, verse 25, "Then I will sprinkle you clean with water, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all of your filthiness and all of your idols".
Remember that there is a correlation in the Bible between rebellion, evil, and sin, and idolatry. He says, "Your evil, your filthiness, connected to your idolatry, that you have chosen to either replace me with other gods or bring other gods alongside of me, therefore diminishing me". He says, "You need to be," verse 29, "delivered from your uncleanness". So what happened was at the bottom was sin and that sin worked itself out in society, because now they are captive in a place called Babylon. How bad was the situation?
Verse 3, "He said to me, 'Son of Man, can these bones live?' And I answered, 'O, Lord, God, you know.'" He said, "This thing was so bad, this situation was so graphically grotesque, that God asked me, 'Son of Man, Prophet, can these bones live again?'" And the prophet said, "I don't know. You know. 'Cause I don't see a human answer to this. I can't answer, 'Can these bones live again?' because there is no solution I can come up with to fix". You ever been in a situation without an answer? That's called the "valley of dry bones". It's a situation with no solution, and we are cut off.
What people do not understand is that your situation in life, your "Sitz im Leben," your circumstances, are tied to your spiritual foundation, and so since sin was at the base of the economy, it has now, over time, worked itself out so that we are scrambling to find an answer because we never connected our spiritual situation to our social dilemma. But this is not uncommon, the failure of people to connect their spiritual dilemma, their rebellion, their sin, their evil, their wickedness, to their personal circumstances. They just think, "I'm havin' a bad day," month, week or year or life. He says, "Son of Man, let me show you this valley, this hopeless situation that this whole nation is facing right now. They have been cut off. They have been disconnected with me and from me, and now chaos rules".
These bones, you know what's bad? When you're in a valley of dry bone, and it says it's the whole nation. It's not only it's everybody in the valley's messed up, but nobody in the valley can help anybody else out 'cause they're as messed up as everybody else is. It says the whole valley was full of dry bones. It's hard to give hope if you don't have any. It's hard to get help if you are helpless. That's the problem. Nobody can help anybody else 'cause it says the whole nation was dried up. Interesting, this nation, Israel, that was dried up, that was hopeless, that was in this messed-up situation because of spiritual rebellion, still had religion. They still had religion. They didn't give up their religion, but their religion wasn't workin'. Israel still had the form of religion, but the relationship was gone, and they were cut off. The intimacy was gone, and they were separated, and so, there was national collapse because of spiritual distance.
He says, "Son of Man, look at the situation in Israel and tell me what you see. Dry bones. How bad is it"? "God, only you can fix this if this is ever gon' get fixed". Why does he call the prophet? He calls the prophet so that the spiritual could be understood as the basis of all the other stuff they were goin' through. He's in a valley of dry bones, a disconnected, hopeless situation that seems to have no answer. Only God knows how we got in and how we gon' get out of this mess. In the middle of this chaos, God has reminded the Prophet Ezekiel about a promise he made.
God had made a promise to his people, and that promise is stated in chapter 36, verse 24, "I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land". Talkin' about Israel in the Old Testament. He had made a promise: "In spite of the fact that I'm gon' spank you for disobedience, there will come a day when I'mma bring you back home". God told them, "I am going to bring you back although I'm gonna scatter you Jews all over the world. There will come a day when I will bring you back in preparation for a revival of the nation Israel, and I will keep my word". He says, "I promise that there will be a resurrection. I promise, if you will, there will be a revival. I can turn... can these bones live again? Only if I make 'em".
Let me put it another way. "I'mma keep 'em where they are until they get tired of bein' there and realize that I'm the only one who can get 'em out 'cause I'm the one who got 'em in". That's why it says at the end of verse 14, "Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it. So, ole man of God, ole prophet, I'm sendin' you there, but I want you to come on, Prophet, and I want you to go to that dry situation, that hopeless scenario to those hopeless people. And so, Ezekiel, here's what I want you to do". Follow this now, verse 4, "He said to me, 'Prophesy over these bones and say to them, "O, Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. I want you to see, dry bones, the word of the Lord".
Why do you want me to give dry bones the word of the Lord? Cause, until they become very dry, they're not willing to listen'. So I didn't even call you to this valley till they were very dry 'cause I wanted them to be so low in their own view that they recognize, "We are in a hopeless situation, and we are cut off. We can't fix this, and it was our spiritual rebellion that caused this greed. It was only recognizin' the spiritual rebellion and being put in this low valley that we recognize we couldn't fix it." Now, Prophet, you can talk 'cause the bones are dry, so "you ought to speak the word of the Lord." He says, "Prophesy, speak to them the word of the Lord. They need a divine word, not just a stimulation. They need a divine word to their dry situation." But it's still hopeful words 'cause he says, "Because I will cause breath to enter into them that you may come to life. I will put sinews, muscles, on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover your skin and put breath in you that you may become alive and you will know that I am the Lord".
God lets things die so that you can discover he alone is God. "So you speak to these dry bones, and you tell them, 'This is how you got here. You got here from your rebellion, but now you're in a hopeless state and you know it. That's where I want you. So now I can bring the word to ya 'cause now you've been made ready to receive it. Your dryness has prepared you to receive it 'cause you can't fix it.'" So you let them know what my plan, what my program is, what my prophetic word is, what the word of the Lord is to this specific broken situation. "You prophesy my thoughts, not your thoughts".
Verse 7, "So I prophesied as I was commanded. I spoke what I was told to speak. And as I prophesied, mm, there was a noise. So I prophesied, and I heard a noise. There was some rumblin' and, behold, a rattling, click-click, click-click, click-click, and the bones came together, bone to bone". Stuff started to come together. He said, when the Word of God was spoken and responded to, connectivity occurred. When the word of the Lord was given to people who were now ready to receive it 'cause they'd gotten very dry and they couldn't fix it themselves, he says, stuff started to shake, rattle, and roll, and they became connected.
So, guess what you now have due to the proclamation and response, 'cause they responded. The bones were movin', and response to the word of the Lord? You had order and organization 'cause things that were disconnected are now connected. So you've got order, and you've got organization 'cause things are now hooked together correctly, order and organization. So what you don't have is the chaos 'cause you've got bones now that were disassociated, connecting in the right place, in the right spots with one another. You have order, and you have organization, but we still have a problem 'cause verse 8 says, "But there was no breath in them". Oh, watch this now: You can have order and organization and still have no life.
Now, you need order, and you need organization, but what good is a body with all the bones connected if it's still in a coffin? Now, if it's gon' go anywhere, it does have to have bones that are connected, but having bones that are connected doesn't mean you're alive. But that was important 'cause he says, "Proclaim the word of the Lord because the word of the Lord speaks order into a situation. So you prophesy the word and get all the bones to agree, 'We're gonna connect based on that word.'"
Now that gets you organized right, but it doesn't change your problem. It just prepares you for your problem to be changed because, without the right things hooked in the right thing at the right... See, one of the problems we have is everybody's out of order. You've got men out of order. You've got women out of order. You've got leaders out of order. You've got members out of order. We got everybody out of order, and they wonder, "Why I'm still in this valley"? You're out of order. The Word of God is to put you in order, connect this bone with that bone so that the bones are in the right place, which positions you for life, but it doesn't give you life.
"Then he said to me, 'Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, Son of Man, and say to the breath, "Thus saith the Lord, come from the four winds, O Breath, and breathe on these slain that they may come to life".'" He says, "Prophesy to the bones, and then prophesy to the breath. Speak the Word to the hopeless situation, the people, and then talk to the wind". In fact, notice what he says in verse 14: "I will put my Spirit within you, and you will come to life". Well, compare that with verse 9. He said, "Prophesy to the breath so that they will come to life". So the breath is the same as the Spirit. Remember, when the Bible says on Pentecost, "The Spirit came like a mighty rushing wind"? So, when the Bible speaks of the "wind" spiritually, it's talking about the movement of the Spirit of God because the Scripture says, "It is the Spirit that gives life".
Watch this now. It is the Word of God that gives order. This is what God says you are to do. This is the position you're supposed to be in. Order yourself by the steps of the Word. So you make the decision, "I'm going to arrange my life, arrange my affairs, arrange my relationship, arrange my finances. I'm gonna arrange myself according to the order of the Word". So that gives you order and organization, but you know you can make a decision to do that and be frustrated while doing it. You can make a decision to do it and be irritated that you even have to do it. You can make a decision to do it and not like doing it. That's because you've made the order decision without having the life to go with it. You need the life to go with it.
The Spirit gives life. He tells the prophet after... watch this, watch this, talkin' about order, watch the order, "You prophesy the Word, but you", watch this now, watch, I don't want you to miss this: "You prophesy the Word, but don't say anything to the Spirit until the bones respond to the Word". The Spirit does not come until the bones respond to the Word. A lot of people wanna get the Spirit when bones haven't responded to the Word. And if the bones haven't responded to the Word, there will be no wind blowing of the Spirit. So the reason we're not getting the Spirit is that the bones have refused the Word, so the Spirit is gon' hold back and not move 'cause the Bible calls it the Spirit of truth.
See, you either don't have the bones connected because there's no response to the Word, or you haven't called the Spirit in, who gives life to the bones once they are connected. You must have Spirit and truth, the Bible says. A lot of churches have truth, and they're dead with doctrine. They know all the Bible facts, but they don't have any life. Other people talk about "Holy Ghost, Holy Ghost, Holy Ghost," but the bones are still disconnected, so you can talk "Holy Ghost" all day, but it's not connected to the Word of the Lord, so these bones are still not functioning. They're arthritic bones. They hurtin', but they're bones 'cause they have no life. But he says, "If you get the bones right, based on the Word, then you can call on the Spirit to blow through and make you alive, and hopeful, and fruitful, and productive".
You can have all the stuff right. We can have the best programs. We can have everybody in the best position. But unless we piggyback on the life of the Spirit, you have dead programs run by dead people, led by dead leaders. Everybody, oh, they in the right place, but they're not alive. "But you can't prophesy to the wind until you prophesy to the bones". He couldn't talk to the Spirit. And so, you could be praying all day long, "God, changed me, God changed me, God changed me". God is saying, "But your bones are still out of place. Your bones are still disconnected. Your bones are not in harmony. You align your bones, order your steps according to my Word, then you can call on the Spirit because the Spirit only responds to truth". What happened? In closing, what happened, what happened, what happened?
Verse 10, "So I prophesied as he commanded, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army". I mean, that verse 10 says, "They stood on their feet, and it was an army". Verse 1, there's no feet to stand on, and their bones dry in the valley. How you go from dry bones to an army standin' on their feet? Somethin' supernatural has happened between verse 2 and verse 9. How long had the bones been dry? A very long time. You mean to tell me, between 2 and 9, God can solve stuff that's been there for years? Between verse 2 and 9, simply through the prophetic Word and calling the Holy Spirit, God can solve stuff that's been there for decades?
These folks have been out of God's will for a long time 'cause God can turn stuff around if he can order the bones and then call the Spirit so that there's a supernatural transformation. We goin' out, spendin' money on stuff that's just delaying the bones, being as dry as they need to be, for the Word to be heard so the Spirit can come and give life because God wants you to know that he alone is God. But he rose up an exceedingly great army. That's soldiers. God has trouble getting soldiers. It's hard to be a soldier if you're in a valley. How you gon' save somebody else if you can't even save you?
God wants to raise you up not just so you can be saved and go to heaven and live a nice life. He wants to raise you up so you can join the army of the Lord so that your dry bones can join with other dry bones, and we can become an army to make a difference in the world, invading the kingdom of darkness with the kingdom of light. You've been called into an army. God wants to transform you. He wants to change you. He wants to take me and you out of this valley, give us his Spirit so we can become alive, so we can begin to march and demonstrate to hell what heaven looks like when it's invaded by the kingdom of God. That is what God is after.
We've all been impressed by athletes who got knocked down, who've gotten injured but somehow fight through it, get back up on their feet and proceed to make a difference and a statement on the field of competition. We've had too many men who've been knocked down by circumstances, knocked down by rejection, knocked down by vices. You need to get up. The worst thing you can have is an army unwilling or unable to fight because that means those they're designed to protect are in trouble. God has an army, an army of men that he wants to rise above those systems, things, and circumstances that would keep them in a valley of despair so that they can defeat any and everything that would go against God's kingdom and the advancement of his great name in the lives of the people they love and the culture that they serve. Gentlemen, it's time, injured or not, to get up. The team is depending on you.