For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that who ever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life
Let us pray:
Hide me behind your cross, Lord Jesus. Articulate the Father’s heart through my voice and let the Holy Spirit breathe new life to us, opening our ears to hear the message of God. Amen
Rhetorical questions. Geico does a pretty good job of using them in their commercials. Here is a small sample
Geico has made the rhetorical question a significant part of it’s advertising campaign because they have a tendency to make us think and get to a place where we can understand much better.
Today in our scripture, God asks Ezekiel a rhetorical question.
Ezekiel is a prophet whose visions and tasks have sometimes been a little, well, odd. He has eaten an actual scroll, laid on one side of his body for 300 days and the other side for 20 days, he has built a town in the middle of the group of people he is traveling with, and he has cut his hair in a weird way. He does all of these things to bring to life the information God has for his people - they may be in exile but God has not forgotten them and he will redeem them.
God takes Ezekiel to a valley in a vision. He gets there and the valley is covered in bones, old, long dead, dry bones. I think the dry bones is mentioned multiple times for two reasons – to make sure we know that these bones aren’t just a little dead, they are all the way there, and maybe just a little so we can hear the rattle…<<rattle plate of shells>>
This isn’t exactly the same, but it certainly comes close. The rattling as Ezekiel walked back and forth while dry bones clicked and moved and were definitely not alive.
Can these bones live? God asks.
Think about that for a moment. The answer should 100% be no, because dead things do not come back to life – especially old bones that have been dead for a long time.
But it’s GOD asking.
Ezekiel knows God well enough to know that the best answer is really no answer at all – he puts it right back in God’s court – Only you know, God.
And God says – you’re right. In fact – I am going to use you to bring them back to life – Tell them they can live.
I’m going to pause here and say what now?
These bones that Ezekiel is walking through, they are dead. Dead like these shells – there’s no life in them, there’s no way that Ezekiel can just speak to them and they will come to life – but that’s exactly what is happening.
At Ezekiel’s command, at God’s direction, the bones begin to grow tendons and blood vessels and muscles and then, finally skin. They become, no longer dry bones, but instead people. Of a sort.
Just as in Genesis 2:7, God sends breath and then the people are actually alive again.
This is a prophecy and message for Ezekiel to give the people of Israel who are now in exile: even as you cry out that your hope is gone, God has promised to put his Spirit in you and you will live.
This past week, in preparing this message, it seemed so relevant to where we are as a church family and to the community we serve. So many times people have said “we have no hope” or our town is hopeless.
But oh, they are wrong.
God says to us “Can these bones live?” and it’s a rhetorical question for us because we know that God has ALREADY made our bones live. We know that the crushing weight of hopelessness we felt before we began following Jesus is no longer the truth of who we are – instead we DO have hope. A hope for a living fruitful, abundant lives as followers of Jesus, a hope for our futures, a hope for LIFE.
Can these bones live? is answered over and over in the life of a Christian with a loud Yes and then it should be, it must be followed up with shouts to those around us – Come, Live! You do not have to be hopeless – the God who made you, loves you, and wants you to LIVE. He will pick you up and then he will fill you with his spirit and then you WILL LIVE. Can these bones live?
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes – in Momence we are the ones crying out “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord” We are the ones speaking the truth God wants known and believed and carried throughout the world – you can know Jesus, you can follow him, you can be filled with the spirit of the living God and when that happens – when that becomes true for you – everything else changes! You are no longer hopeless, you are full of hope. You are no longer living as though you were dried up, dead bones, rattling only when someone else moved you – instead you become alive in a way you never thought possible – you become alive enough to know peace and joy and love in ways you never thought possible. You have hope. You can live.
Can these bones live? Is the rhetorical question of a loving, living God who longs to see everyone live in relationship with him. It is because of the yes to this question that each of us can say together the statements that follow this message – God loved us enough to ask “Can these bones live?” and we know the answer is yes.
As we have been doing every week in this series, I will remind you of what it looks like to say that the love of God is found in every page of Scripture. Follow along on your sheets and whenever I point at you say whatever is bolded on your page:
What does it mean to say God loves?
God loved us enough to create us, to form us from the dust.
God loved us enough to let us fail, to let us choose our own way over God’s – to let us chain ourselves to sin and defeat and heartbreak and sorrow and death.
God loved us enough to provide a rescue, a way back: through wanderers, murderers, adulterers, defaulters, promise-breakers, foreigners, strangers, and lovers.
God loved us enough to show us mothers, judges, kings, and prophets who loved and spoke for God and kept reminding us of the promise of redemption
God loved us enough to show us how evil and wrong continually mess things up and how obedience to God fosters holiness and bestows blessing
God loved us enough to send us Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, to preach and live peace, grace, hope, joy, and love.
God loved us enough to see Jesus rejected, to see him die, to see him buried.
God loved us enough to raise Jesus from the dead and send the Holy Spirit to remind us of all we have in him and empower us to live like Jesus.
God loves us enough to want us to live like Jesus – an abundant life infused with all the fruit of the Spirit, redeemed, free, loved.
God loves us enough to still let us choose our own destiny.
God loves us enough to promise the hope of forever, of resurrection from the dead, and final judgement.
God loved us enough, God loves us enough, God will always love us enough.
For God so loved the world…
God loves you.
God wants you to know it. God wants you to live in it.
God wants you to be able to love others because you know you are loved.
God’s love is expressed to us every week, most tangibly, as we gather at this table: The Son who died and yet lives, gave everything so we could know the depth of God’s love.
So, Come. Drink the wine. Eat the bread. Know you ARE loved.
God loves you. Go, love the world with him.