One of the most famous of all of Ezekiel’s visions is that of the valley of dry bones in chapter 37. The Lord asks the prophet, “Mortal, can these bones live?” And Ezekiel responds, “O Lord God, you know.”
That is a good answer. Only God knows if something that is dead can be brought back to life. Only the Lord can bring that something, or someone, back to the land of the living.
Then the Lord tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones and say, “O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.” This shows us that the word of God is an essential ingredient to the giving of spiritual life. But there is another essential ingredient as well.
“Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.” The words for breath and wind in this chapter are the same as the word for spirit. Furthermore, we are told that the dry bones that are brought back to life are the whole house of Israel, God’s people. This is a picture of spiritual resurrection and restoration. It is another way of saying that the Jews will be brought back to their homeland of Palestine. But the key thing is that they will be brought back alive.
The important thing for us today is that we can be brought to life in the same way. We too, apart from Jesus, are a valley of dry bones. There are people that are walking around on the earth who may be alive physically but are spiritually dead. They are simply dry bones walking around. There are whole churches like this too. And the Lord can bring individuals and churches that are simply a mass of dry bones back to life. The way it happens is through the word of God and the Holy Spirit of God being applied to the life of those spiritually dead individuals or spiritually dead churches. I have seen it happen in both cases, and in both instances, as Ezekiel experienced, it is a miracle to behold.
If we want this spiritual resurrection to happen to us, then we must seek more of God’s word and more of his Spirit. These two combined are the secret to spiritual resurrection and spiritual growth.
C. S. Lewis never wrote very much about the Holy Spirit, but one point from Lewis I have found very helpful. He says that the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian is more important than the feeling of the Holy Spirit. His actual presence is what begets Christ in us. Lewis writes that the presence of God is not the same as the sense of the presence of God. Our supposed sense of his presence may be due to imagination whereas his actual presence may be attended with no “sensible consolation.” Lewis draws an analogy to sex. He points out that the act of conceiving a child ought to be, and usually is, attended by pleasure. But the pleasure itself doesn’t produce the child. We may experience sexual pleasure without producing a child, or we may produce children without pleasure. He argues that the spiritual marriage of God and the soul works in the same way. The sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit is an added gift for which we should give thanks when it comes. In another place he urges that we should accept the sensations of the Holy Spirit with thankfulness, like birthday cards from God, but we should remember that these sensations are only greetings, not the real gift. The real thing is the gift of the Holy Spirit. The sensations are merely the response of our nervous system. We ought not to depend upon the sensations. The Holy Spirit may be most operative when we feel him the least. Sensations, to use another image, are merely the push to start us off on our first bicycle. We will have much pedaling to do later on. Such pedaling will be good for our spiritual leg muscles. We should enjoy the push while it lasts but enjoy it as a treat, not as something usual. (See my book, Mere Theology, the chapter on The Holy Spirit, page 93.)