So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. ~ Ezekiel 37:7
Ezekiel was a priest during the time of Israel’s exile. The writing of Ezekiel is filled with visions, symbolism, prophetic announcements from Yahweh, and vivid imagery. I have always held the prophets in such high regard for their resolute obedience to God. In the, now famous, “dry bones” chapter of Ezekiel, the LORD commands Ezekiel to speak to the bones—to come to life!
Many commentaries have been written about this chapter. This is not one of those articles on the Valley of dry bones, or the Spirit of God re-creating His people, but the obedience of God’s servant and the blessing. It is easy to overlook the statement, “I prophesied as I was commanded,” yet when I read this, I am forced to ponder two things—the obedience of the prophet and the blessing for following through with God’s command. Let’s look at both of these:
Obedience is an area where sanctification reigns; meaning, it is a process for most of us. It reminds me of Paul’s witness of his commission from Christ before King Agrippa, when he declares, “O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19). Obedience and disobedience—these are areas that either build up, or break the heart of, the believer. Being obedient is one of the commands of love that Jesus gave His disciples (Jn. 15:10, 14). We are obedient not because we fear (only), but because we love Him. Yes, we do need to fear God—a healthy reverent acknowledgement that God is creator. We are obedient because we know He loves us and would never direct us into eternal damnation or condemnation, only eternal love. This does not mean that sometimes the call to obedience will not be a persecuted endeavor—it may indeed be, but it means that He will be there with you. When Ezekiel states that he prophesies what he was commanded, he is saying, “God, I am speaking for you, on your behalf.” Therefore, obedience is trust—trust in a holy and righteous God.
Undoubtedly, sometimes I fail and my faith is not as strong as it should be—it is at these times that I grieve the Spirit within me, and ask the Lord to strengthen me. However, with each passing trial, I do become more and more obedient. So, we must look at our trials as tests for obedience—ways in which God is placing us in the fire to dissolve away the dross; to purify us and make us holy (set apart). As the writer of Proverbs states, “Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel” (25:4). Ah, there is nothing like being used by God! But, I do believe there is something we miss when we are not obedient…
When we fail to be obedient, I believe we also miss the blessing that follows. For Ezekiel, the blessing was seeing God’s Word come to fruition, a literal miracle of the Creator’s hand. All blessings are not the same, just as the tests are not the same. Each has a specific purpose and/or reward. For instance, I was warned over two decades ago by God to never touch tobacco again—I heeded the warning with fear and trembling—I was obedient to God’s command. The blessing could have been in many forms: the savings I incurred by not purchasing tobacco products, relief from an unforeseeable cancer, or God allowing me to do something bigger (Luke 12:48).
Don’t miss the blessings that God may have for you, follow the example of Ezekiel and the prophets—press forward in obedience.