VALLEY OF DRY BONES
Scripture: Ezekiel 37:1–14
Memory verse: Ezekiel 37:14
"I will put my Spirit in you and you will live."
Begin this week’s lesson with the following object lesson. You will need to bring an extension cord and a lamp to class. Discuss how bones are remainders of something that was once alive and healthy. Then discuss how people can be spiritually dead, though they are very alive on the outside.
Show the lamp. Explain that essentially it is dead. It is giving off no light. It needs to receive power to come alive and shine. Plug the lamp into the extension cord.
Stress that Christians need to stay plugged into our power source—God. He gives us spiritual life and health. To stay spiritually alive, we must keep a close relationship with God. We must spend time with Him each day, talking to Him in prayer and learning about Him through studying His Word so we will receive from our source of spiritual life. To keep a close relationship with God and stay spiritually alive, we must also surround ourselves with godly people and be careful to participate only in activities that will be pleasing to God. If we disconnect through neglect or sin, we begin to die spiritually.
Hearing God’s Word
Explain that the prophet Ezekiel saw a whole valley of skeletal remains of people who were once alive. Ask the students to listen to what happened to them.
Ezekiel the Prophet
Ezekiel was a unique prophet who had unusual visions and experiences. His name in the Hebrew language means “God strengthens.” Ezekiel was a priest as was his father Buzi. He began his work as a prophet when he was 30 years old and continued for at least 22 years. God gave Ezekiel His messages during the time Israel was in captivity in Babylon.
Although he was in a foreign land, Ezekiel spoke boldly about the one true God. He faced difficulties as he warned the people about their need to turn from sin back to God. Through it all, Ezekiel was faithful to do what God told him.
Ezekiel’s Unusual Vision
One day God gave Ezekiel an unusual vision. What was the vision? (Let volunteers read Ezekiel 37:1–10.) Imagine Ezekiel’s surprise and shock as he found himself in a valley littered with old, dry bones! What a dreadful sight!
As Ezekiel stood looking over the valley littered with the old dry bones, God said, “Son of man, can these bones live?” Can you picture Ezekiel looking out over thousands of bare bones and thinking, what a silly question! However, he simply said, “Oh, Lord, You know.”
Then God commanded Ezekiel to prophesy life, or speak the Word of God, to the bones. Ezekiel knew God well, so no matter what his personal opinion of the command might have been, he obeyed. It may have seemed ridiculous for him to talk to a bunch of brittle bones, but he did it because he trusted God enough to obey anything God told him to do.
Imagine how Ezekiel must have felt when all those bones began to attach themselves together, and muscles and skin started covering them. But God was not finished. He had another miracle yet to perform. Even though the bones now formed human bodies, they still were not living, breathing human beings; they were not alive. God now told Ezekiel to call the winds to breathe upon the bodies. Once again Ezekiel obeyed. As he did, breath came into the bodies, and they stood up as a mighty army.
The Meaning of the Vision
God did not give Ezekiel this vision just to entertain him. He used it as an object lesson for the people of Judah. They had become like a dead nation of dry bones because of their disobedience. But with God’s Spirit, they could have new life. Their scattered and broken nation could be reassembled. What good news to the people living in captivity!
God’s people had ignored and disobeyed God so long their hearts had become hardened. Because they turned away from God, they lost their homes, their safety, and their freedom. By the time Ezekiel had this vision, the people bitterly regretted their sin against God. They were ready to repent and obey God.
Process of Spiritual Death
People really have not changed that much over the years. We would like to think we have gained great knowledge and wisdom throughout the centuries. We do have tremendously increased scientific knowledge, but men’s hearts are still much like those of the people in Ezekiel’s day. People want their own way. They strive for possessions. They are concerned mostly about themselves and their selfish desires. They want their own way instead of God’s way. They may even think they cannot be happy if they obey God.
Ask: “Against whom or what do people rebel?” (Answers include God, parents, teachers, police, and governments.)
What does God’s Word say about rebellion? In both of these verses, prophets were speaking to rebellious people. However, those who are obedient and willing to follow God will be rewarded.
God’s people wanted to be like the nations around them, even though these nations were wicked and served idols. Soon the Israelites were also serving idols and following the wicked practices of their neighbours. This was not in God’s plan. His Word is very clear about whom we are to love. We can enjoy many good, exciting things in life. It is not wrong to take part in them, but we must be very careful about what is first place in our hearts. God does not want those things to become more important to us than He is.
A Christian must be careful not to pick up habits and attitudes from those around him who are not serving God. Sometimes we copy the behaviour of friends without realizing their actions are not right. What does God say about this? Children of disobedience are following Satan. This results in destruction and sorrow. What does God offer those who do obey Him? Obedience brings eternal life and peace.
Ask: “What are some reasons people lie?” (Responses might include to impress friends and to avoid punishment.)
Do you trust the word of someone who is known to lie? No. Those who lie will not escape punishment. Psalm 119:160 assures us we can trust God to keep His Word. He always does what He says He will do. He cannot lie.
Perhaps the most gradual, subtle way Christians lose their love for God and die spiritually is through their desire to gain things. There is not anything wrong with having nice things, but the desire to get lots of things should not take up all our time and energy. Are you content with what you have or do you always think about what you do not have and how you can get it? Often people do not mean to stop serving God; they just slip little by little away from praying, reading His Word, or going to church.
We live in this world and can enjoy much that is here, but our behaviour must not be like the people who are not serving God. When we study God’s Word and pray, the Holy Spirit teaches and guides us. He shows us how to avoid Satan’s traps.
Staying Spiritually Healthy
God has explained the way we can get spiritual life. It is this week’s memory verse. (Repeat the verse together several times.) The Holy Spirit gives us power to witness and power to live for God. No matter how tempting it becomes to slack off, we can let the Holy Spirit give us strength to do what is right.
Ask: “Do you know anyone who has never eaten food? Do you think that person would be healthy? (Allow response.)
Food is vital for our physical health. Our spirits need food too. We receive spiritual food through Bible reading and prayer. These are necessary to our spiritual health. Are you just a bunch of dry bones? Or are you a healthy, growing soldier for God?
Accepting God’s Word
Tell the students that Bible reading and prayer help us grow spiritually, but we need salvation to begin a spiritual life. This comes when we accept Jesus as our Saviour and Lord.
Explain salvation and then ask if there are any in your class who would like to receive Jesus today. Pray with each who does. Then instruct them to daily read their Bibles and pray. Encourage them to share about their decision for Jesus with someone this week.
I stopped at a small shop a few meters down from the coffee shop. The shop owner was selling basic supplies: sugar, salt, rice, etc. On the counter was a balance scale.
“How do I know that when ordering a pound of rice, it is truly a pound?” I asked.
The owner took time to demonstrate and showed me where both sides of the scale must match. It seemed very important to him to prove that he was an honest businessman. Honesty is another value evident in Hararghe Oromo culture.
The Hararghe Oromo are modest, basically honest, very hospitable, and primarily Islamic. Their lives revolve around a big cash crop and rely on a daily high from khat. Their society has found something greatly desired by others, but instead of offering something better to others, the Hararghe Oromo are contributing to their downfall.
Messengers of Jesus Christ offer deliverance, not bondage; truth, not deception; a happy heart, not depression; eternal life, not an early death; and peace, not fear. God has a plan for the Hararghe Oromo just as He had for Israel, “…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
May the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ shine brightly throughout Eastern Harerge, Ethiopia – homeland of the Hararghe Oromo – and reveal Jesus as their true deliverer.
REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for Hararghe Shop Owners
1. Market people to be fair.
2. The Holy Spirit to impress upon the young and old alike the difference between right and wrong.
3. Messengers to the Hararghe to identify cultural values through which the gospel can be presented.
"When he (Holy Spirit) comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment" (John 16:8).
Remember: VALLEY OF DRY BONES
Memory verse: Ezekiel 37:14
"I will put my Spirit in you and you will live."
1. A healthy relationship with God is a high priority.
2. Absence of prayer and Bible study creates a "dry bone" relationship with God.
3. The Holy Spirit can make dry bones live again.
Pray for Hararghe Shop Owners.
Study 4 | All Peoples/The Prophets | africaatts.org/go-teach