Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live…. (Ezekiel 37:4-5)
In the 1700’s, a mighty revival swept across America. It came to be known as the Great Awakening. The results were dramatic: many conversions, strengthening of the churches, the raising of moral standards, and founding of benevolent institutions. The revival became the spiritual womb for the birth of this nation. When I think of it, I cry, “Lord, do it again!” We need a rebirth of our nation in a return to God. I am more convinced than ever that this is our only hope. In Ezekiel 37 we see an illustration of how spiritual awakening happens to the people of God. I say an illustration because the interpretation is a prophecy of the future restoration of the nation of Israel at the end of the age. But, there are timeless principles applicable to every generation.
Consider THE REASONS FOR SEEKING A GREAT AWAKENING (v.1-3). God took His prophet to a valley of dry bones which symbolized the nation of Israel under the judgment of God. It is also a graphic picture of the current state of most of Christianity. So many churches are dry (v.1-2). This is illustrative of the dryness of spiritual experience in multitudes of church goers today. Perhaps you have heard of Dr. Snodgrass of the First Church of Snootyville. Listed on the church sign, at the end of his name, his doctor of divinity degree was listed by the abbreviation D.D. Someone asked what the letters stood for, and one of his members answered, “Dry and dusty!” I am fearful that could be said of many in the pulpit this morning and of multitudes in the pew as well. Dry and dead (v.3)! Israel was in a state of spiritual deadness. That would be true of a lot of churches. There is no life—churches like Sardis in Rev.3:1-6. Can these bones live? Ezekiel is not sure. Yet, God can raise the dead! How?
Weigh THE REQUIREMENTS FOR SEEING A GREAT AWAKENING (v.4-9). It requires the word and wind of God. Ezekiel was to preach and God would give life to the bones. That is the authority of God’s Word. Remember how God spoke and the universe and all it contains came into existence, and the earth became teeming with life? Jesus spoke the name, “Lazarus,” and commanded, “Come forth,” and the man dead for four days was raised. Every revival in history has been rooted in Biblical preaching: whether it be Luther and Calvin in the Reformation, or Whitefield and the Wesleys in the Great Awakening. This is essential, but not enough. The Word of God must be united with the Wind of God. This is the rushing, mighty wind that came on the Day of Pentecost—the very breath of heaven!
Then comes THE RESULTS IN SECURING A GREAT AWAKENING (v.10-14). When spiritual awakening comes, there will be vitality. The corpses came to life. One of the chief characteristics of life is the ability to reproduce. This is why revival is always associated with evangelism. It is what happens to a church that is alive. There comes victory. It was an army. God intends for His people to be the church militant and triumphant! Under the banner of the cross, we march to victory. We need another Great Awakening!