Have you ever had a dream so real, that when it was over you weren’t sure it was over?
I used to have a reoccurring nightmare in grade school. I was running away from something or someone – zombies? – and trying to get back to the safety of my classroom. And, I kept falling. I’d be outrunning the dark evil pursuing me, and then fall and it would get closer. Every time I fell it would get closer and then right when I fell for the last time and the evil was leaning over me, I’d wake up, breathing heavily, and unsure if I was in my bed or dead.
We have an old recording of “The Christmas Carol” we listen to each Christmas. In it, the narrator paraphrases from Dickens, “Marley’s Ghost bothered Scrooge exceedingly. Every time he resolved within himself, after mature inquiry, that it was all a dream, his mind flew back again, like a strong spring released, to its first position, and presented the same problem to be worked through all over again, “Was it a dream or not?”
Ezekiel had a dream like that. A nightmare of waking up on Zombie breeding grounds. Even when he writes about it, it reads as if he still doesn’t know if it was real or not.
Here’s how he starts. . . Eze 37:1 (NLT) “The LORD took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the LORD to a valley filled with bones.”
Now that’s fairly weird – dream or not. Ezekiel was a pastor about 570 years before Jesus was born. God brings Ezekiel to this valley, and they walk through the old bones – human bones we find out later – which were scattered all over the valley. Then God asked Ezekiel a simple question.
“Can these bones live again?”
Was God was playing with Ezekiel? Of course dead decomposed dried out bones won’t live again. But then, God was there, and He seems to enjoy doing the impossible. Ezekiel wisely passed the buck.
He answered, “Well, God, only you know if they can live.”
That’s when things got weird.
God told Ezekiel to “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the LORD! 5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! 6 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.’”
I’d love to see that – at the theater. But Ezekiel was right in the middle of the bone valley. Which makes me wonder – where did these bones come from? Was this an ancient battle scene? A mass, shallow graveyard? Who were these bones from? Were they pre-Nazi Philistines, or giant Goliath relatives, or unlucky slow-runners drowned in the valley from the aftermath of a Tsunami?
Not that it matters.
Anyway, Ezekiel was stuck there in the middle of the bones when he heard “a rattling noise all across the valley.” The bones got up and started attaching themselves together. In time an entire skeleton army surrounded him. Then muscles, veins, tendons, and bloody innards started attaching themselves to the bones. Finally they got covered in skin. Even zombies don’t want their innards falling out.
Thankfully, “they still had no breath in them.”
But not for long.
God then told Ezekiel to 9 “Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”
At this point Ezekiel may have wanted to stay silent. But God was bigger. . .10 “So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.”
I’m guessing this bothered Ezekiel exceedingly. He had to be wondering, “is it a dream, or not?”
It’s either a zombie nightmare or a zombie reality.
God went on to tell Ezekiel that these bones represented the nation of Israel. God said that the nation looked dead because it was dying in exile. The bones coming to life were a picture of how God would bring the nation back to life. This happened in 539 BC when God brought the nation out of captivity and back to their land – and again in 1948.
But who cares about God watching after His people, keeping His word, redeeming us, protecting us, and never giving up on us? We didn’t read this far for life-changing, sin-removing, problem-solving, eternal hope.
We want zombies.
Was it a dream, or not?