July 21, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

While Ezekiel is contemplating the sight of the dry bones, he is addressed directly by Yahweh, ben-ʾādām, (lit. “son of man”), and asked a curious question, Can these bones live again? The question is ridiculous. Ezekiel’s own tradition knows of people coming back to life, but only in cases of recent death. these bones (hāʿăṣāmôt hāʾēlleh, which occurs 3 times in vv. 3–5) represent the deceased of long ago. Any hope for them would need to be tied to belief in a general eschatological resurrection (cf. Dan. 12:1–2). The prophet’s response suggests that such notions had not yet matured in Israel. People had begun to grasp for the idea, as Job 14:14 seems to imply (though in the end Job’s hope aborts). Ezekiel’s answer to Yahweh’s question is cautious. With “O Lord Yahweh, that only you know,” he tosses the ball back into Yahweh’s court. He neither rules out the possibility—after all, with God all things are possible (Gen. 18:14; Jer. 32:17), and Yahweh exercises control over life and death (Job 34:14–15; Ps. 104:29–30)—nor betrays the hopelessness of his contemporaries (v. 11). Instead he casts himself entirely upon the will and the power of God. Yahweh responds by returning the ball, demanding that the prophet be personally involved in providing the answer.[1]


3. can these bones live?… thou knowest—implying that, humanly speaking, they could not; but faith leaves the question of possibility to rest with God, with whom nothing is impossible (De 32:39). An image of Christian faith which believes in the coming general resurrection of the dead, in spite of all appearances against it, because God has said it (Jn 5:21; Ro 4:17; 2 Co 1:9).[2]


Ver. 3.—Son of man, can these bones live? Whether or not this question was directed, as Plumptre surmises, to meet despairing thoughts which had arisen in the prophet’s own mind, it seems reasonable to hold, with Hävernick, that the question was addressed to him as representing “over against God the people, and certainly as to this point the natural and purely human consciousness of the same,” to which Israel’s restoration appeared as unlikely an occurrence as the reanimation of the withered bones that lay around. The extreme improbability, if not absolute impossibility, of the occurrence, at least to human reason and power, is perhaps pointed at in the designation “Son of man” here given to the prophet. The prophet’s answer, O Lord God, thou knowest, is not to be interpreted as proving that to the prophet hitherto the thought of a resurrection had been unfamiliar, if not completely absent, or as giving a direct reply either affirmative or negative to the question proposed to him, but merely as expressing the prophet’s sense of the greatness of the wonder suggested to his mind, with perhaps a latent acknowledgment that God alone had the power by which such a wonder could, and therefore alone also the knowledge whether it would, be accomplished (comp. Rev. 7:14).[3]


37:3 You know: The prophet placed his faith completely in the living God. Ordinarily, one would say “no” to the question God posed. But Ezekiel did not limit God; he knew the Almighty could make bones live.[4]


37:3 can these bones live? The many dry bones (v. 2) picture the nation Israel (v. 11) as apparently dead in their dispersion, and waiting for national resurrection. The people knew about the doctrine of individual resurrection, otherwise this prophecy would have had no meaning (cf. 1Ki 17; 2Ki 4; 13:21; Is 25:8; 26:19; Da 12:2; Hos 13:14).[5]


37:3 The question can these bones live? anticipates the exiles’ own self-perception (v. 11): total hopelessness. It also introduces one of the key words in the passage: the verb “to live” appears in vv. 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, and 14. Ezekiel’s response leaves the outcome to God’s sovereignty.[6]


37:3 these bones live Yahweh is not asking Ezekiel for his opinion on whether people can be brought back to life. The prophet would have been familiar with that possibility based on the experiences of the prophets Elijah (1 Kgs 17:17–24) and Elisha (2 Kgs 4:32–37), and perhaps Isa 53:10–11. Ezekiel’s response indicates his understanding that the possibility depended entirely on Yahweh’s actions.

The prophetic stories of resurrection focus on the recently dead, not those long dead. Ezekiel may have had no expectation of any resurrection for those whose corpses had decayed to such a state. Ezekiel’s response reflects his faith in Yahweh’s power, but he likely did not have a well-developed sense of physical resurrection at the end of days such as that seen in Dan 12:1–2. Several ot passages hint at physical resurrection, including Isa 26:19 and Hos 6:2. The concept also exists in ancient Zoroastrian beliefs about a physical resurrection.[7]


[1] Block, D. I. (1997–). The Book of Ezekiel, Chapters 25–48 (pp. 374–375). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[2] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 610). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[3] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Ezekiel (Vol. 2, p. 264). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[4] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 995). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Eze 37:3). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[6] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1559). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[7] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Eze 37:3). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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