Posted: 4/23/18 at 11:00am. Column by Ed Jordan.
How often do you feel hungry when you know that it isn’t logical to be hungry, because you just ate a little while earlier? It frequently happens to many of us. Usually that type of hunger is really an expression of thirst. Our bodies need lots of water each day to remain hydrated and to keep all our vital organs functioning properly.
There are many metaphors used in the Bible which utilize physical realities to communicate spiritual realities. So when we find metaphors in the Bible, we need to understand the physical truths related to the physical metaphor in order to discover its rich spiritual meaning.
One metaphorical concept is the idea of something becoming physically dry—such as land, trees, or bones—becoming dry, crumbly, crusty, and fragile. We need physical and spiritual water or else our effectiveness weakens.
In Ezekiel 37 the metaphor of the dry bones portrays skeletons on the surface of a valley as a metaphorical presentation of the spiritual life of Israel during their period of captivity. Their place of worship had been destroyed, and they were taken captive into a foreign land. Life was tumultuous, uncertain, and stressful. They felt that God had abandoned them, when in reality they themselves had spiritually abandoned God many years earlier.
In Ezekiel 37:11 (NASB) we see their spiritual dryness depicted in their own words: “Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.” This is the cry of a person who is spiritually dehydrated, trying to live life under difficult circumstances without any awareness of the presence of God in their lives.
They are dry as sawdust and feel like brittle skeletons. They think their spiritual dryness is hidden from God, from their families, and from their friends. But their spiritual dryness is evident, just like the dry bones of earlier battles that lay unburied upon the surface of a valley.
Physically we require around eight cups of water a day to maintain healthy hydration levels. Similarly, we can become spiritually dehydrated whenever we try to live life without God. Some people get one cup of spiritual water a week by attending worship, but is that enough to prevent spiritual dehydration? We really need daily refreshing spiritual hydration to function at full capacity. We need to read God’s word and talk with God through daily prayer.
When we become spiritually dehydrated, it is as though everything in life begins to fall apart. Our self-esteem crumbles, as does our productivity. Our relationships deteriorate, beginning with our relationship with God, then that dryness ripples through all the relationships we value.
We hurt the ones we love, even if we don’t mean to. Our parched lives fall in defeat, lying upon the surface of an abandoned valley, drying out more and more under the scorching sun.
Our hope dries up too. Hope is about a better tomorrow, but dry bones that are disconnected from the rest of the body have little hope on their own. How do people who have tasted of the goodness of God live hopefully in the bitterness of sin?
Israel bemoaned their dryness and hopelessness and were crying out to God. God heard them and sent a message of hope to them in Ezekiel 37:11-14. The rehydration of God’s people begins when they hear and respond to what God is saying to them. God promised that if they would turn to him, he would open a way out of their predicament—out of death and dryness.
God will revive us as well, as we acknowledge our spiritual dryness and turn to God for help. He will keep us properly spiritually hydrated as we daily interact with him and keep him central in our lives and daily activities. As we daily meet with God in a devotional time, he will breathe life and spiritual refreshment back into us. Instead of becoming dry, disintegrating bones, God will cause us to stand upon our feet. He will reassemble us as the body of his people and breathe newness of life into us. God’s Spirit will gift us and empower us to together serve God again.
If you find yourself spiritually parched today, why not call out to God and admit that you have been keeping God at a distance and suffering the consequences of that choice? Admit your dehydration and open up to receive God’s rivers of living water flowing into your life (Jn. 7:37-39). Come to the life-giving water of God and refresh your tired, dry bones!