Rev. Anthony is a Coptic Orthodox monk from St. Shenouda Monastery in Australia. He completed his Master of Arts in Ancient History at Macquarie University and is currently working to earn his Doctor of Philosophy on the subject of the Arrow Prayer. In the monastery, Father Anthony collaborates with many young people to produce Orthodox-inspired books and music.
In Ezekiel’s vision about the dead bones (Ezk 37: 1-14), God reveals to us how He thinks of us in contrast to how we think of ourselves. The way we look at ourselves is just like the people of Israel who say, “Our bones are dry; our hope is lost; and we ourselves are cut off.”
We look at our sins and shortcomings, and we lose hope that we will ever be able to rise again. We think we are dry bones that have no hope in life, which in a way is true. Dry bones can’t ask for help. They can’t ask for forgiveness or healing. They are dead.
What God sees in us is very different, though. He said to Ezekiel to prophesy to these bones saying, “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live.”
He sees in us a potential for life, to rise up and become fully alive.
Notice here that there are steps to this resurrection. After God made the body, He breathed into it a breath of life. Those are our steps in the path of repentance. We sometimes get disheartened when we fall after we have been raised. We get disappointed at ourselves when we slide back after we rise from the sin. But God says here, coming back is a process, and falling and rising again is a part of the journey.
Eventually when God raises us, we don’t just become people who eat and breathe, but we become “an exceedingly great army”. His work in us is not just to bring us to life but to make us into a great army! The dry bones have become a great army! The Lord then assures Ezekiel that this is not just a nice story. He says to Ezekiel, “I the Lord, have spoken it and performed it.”
God is able and willing to raise us, and He has given us His promise. So stop thinking of yourself as dry bones and look at yourself the way God sees you, as a critical soldier in a Great Army.
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