Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: Ezekiel 37 and Revelation 6

Ezekiel 37 – The Dry Bones – The hand of the Lord carries Ezekiel to the middle of a valley full of bones. He makes him walk up and down among them.

“He said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I said, ‘You know, Lord Yahweh’. He said, ‘Prophesy over these bones. Say, “Dry bones, hear the word of Yahweh. The Lord Yahweh says this to these bones: I am now going to make the breath enter you, and you will live. I shall put sinews on you. I shall make flesh grow on you. I shall cover you with skin and give you breath, and you will live; and you will learn that I am Yahweh”’ (37:3-7).

As Ezekiel prophesies to the bones, they stir and come back to life – “the bones joined together. I looked, and saw that they were covered with sinews; flesh was growing on them and skin was covering the, but there was no breath in them. He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man. Say to the breath, ‘The Lord Yahweh says this: Come from the four winds, breath; breathe on these dead; let them live!’” (37:7-10).

He continues: “O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. . .I will put my spirit in you that may live. . .” (37:14).

Ezekiel’s passage on the “dry bones” is all about being spiritually resurrected from the dead, and early Friends understood resurrection. What Ezekiel describes here in 6th c. Palestine, Christ brought to life in his own resurrection from the dead and it was also what early Friends experienced in 17th c. England:

Wait to see the law set up within . . .and the rebellious nature yoked.  Wait in patience for the judgment, and let the Lord’s work have its perfect operation in you; and so as you turn to him who has smitten and wounded you; he will bind up and heal.  And give up all to the great slaughter of the Lord, to the Cross . . .And as the earth comes to be plowed up, the seed which is sown comes up; and, the rocks broken, the water gushes out.  You so will see that some promises will arise in you to the Seed which is coming up out of the grave, and so the love of God will appear in you, and you will be stayed, and see hope in the midst of calamity . . .And as you come to be redeemed from under the bondage of sin, and come above the bonds of death, and the pure principle lives in you, there will be a delight in you to do the will of the father, who has redeemed you from sin and its law to righteousness and its law, . . . (Francis Howgill)

.  . . he that hears not the Voice of the Son of God, does not
live but is in death. . .And the hour is come, that they which
have been in the graves have heard the Voice of the Son of
God and do live.  They that do not hear . . .are in the death
and the grave.  They that come to believe in the Light, hear
the Voice of the Son of God. . .and live over death, the grave
and hell, and so come to Life (George Fox).

Ezekiel’s prophecy is of God’s gathering of the loyal remnant.  “I will make them a covenant of peace; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever.  My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”  These words which were so central to the exiled Jews and to the early Christians, who saw in them a prophesy of Christ’s resurrection, and were also so important to Friends who saw the churches of their day as dry bones scattered all throughout Europe are hopefully also applicable to the condition of the church today. I believe they are.  I do believe Christ will gather us all together somehow.  His intention is inextinguishable.  It has been there from the very beginning of creation and I do not believe the world will end until He has brought forth what he meant to bring forth and he’ll do it without violating our freedom.

Revelation 6 – Now the Lamb breaks the seals of the scoll:
First – a white horse appears with a rider holding a bow; he is given a victor’s crown.

Second – a bright red horse whose rider will take peace away and set men killing each other; he has a sword.

Third – a black horse whose rider has scales to weigh out wheat and barley skimpily and who will give no oil or wine.

Fourth – a deathly pale horse with a rider called plague with Hades at his heels.

These four are given authority over a quarter of all the earth to kill with sword, famine, plague and wild beasts (6:8).

Fifth – he sees “underneath the altar the souls of all the people who had been killed on account of the word of God, for witnessing to it” (6:9). They all shout, “’Holy, faithful Master, how much longer will you wait before you pass sentence and take vengeance for our death on the inhabitants of the earth?’” (6:10) They are told to be patient.

Sixth – at the breaking of the sixth seal, there is a violent earthquake and the sun goes black. The moon turns red and the Great Day of God’s anger has arrived. The rich and powerful race to the mountains to hide from the anger of the Lamb.

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