God used a dramatic illustration of dead bones being brought back to life to show Ezekiel the miraculous nature of the resurrection the LORD planned for his people. Ezekiel started the recount of his vision by saying, “The hand of the LORD was upon me and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones.” Ezekiel did not give us the name of the valley, but it can be assumed that it was an actual location where bones existed, most likely the valley of the son of Hinnom which was renamed the valley of slaughter in Jeremiah 7:32. Hinnom was the site of child sacrifice during the days of kings Ahaz and Manasseh. Jeremiah proclaimed that this place of human sacrifice would become their cemetery when the people  of Judah were slaughtered by the Babylonian invaders (notes on Jeremiah 7:31-32).

Jeremiah declared, “At that time, saith the LORD, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of the princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves: and they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped: they shall not be gathered, nor be buried; they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth” (Jeremiah 8:1-2). Although it is uncertain whether or not these were the bodies brought back to life in Ezekiel’s vision, it seems to be a fitting illustration of the rebirth that takes place when a sinner is saved by grace.

Ezekiel’s description of the resurrection of the bones included the restoration of life through the spirit of God. He said, “And I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army” (Ezekiel 37:8-10). The Hebrew word translated both wind and breath in this passage is ruwach (roo´ – akh). “It is clear that the wind is regarded in scripture as a fitting emblem of the mighty penetrating power of the invisible God. Moreover, the breath is suppose to symbolize not only the deep feelings that are generated within man, such as sorrow and anger: but also kindred feelings in the Divine nature” (7307).

The apostle John taught that in the resurrection, Jesus will bring everyone back to life. He said, “Marvel not of this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-29). The Greek term resurrection, anastasis literally means “to cause to stand up on one’s feet again” (386). The resurrection is associated with the millennial reign of Christ, which will take place sometime in the future. Ezekiel was told, “Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel, and ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves” (Ezekiel 37:12-13).



The enemies of the Israelites were primarily neighbors that lived in close proximity to the Promised Land. Initially, when the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they were instructed to drive out the inhabitants of the land that had no right to possess territory God had given to Abraham and his descendants. Due to disobedience and a lack of faith, the area where the Israelites dwelt was cohabitated by other relatives of Abraham, specifically, Lot’s sons Ammon and Moab and the descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau. Over time, wars between Israel and the surrounding nations became an ongoing pattern. Eventually, the Israelites stopped trying to separate themselves from the people that hated them.

Ezekiel received four prophetic messages concerning enemies of Israel that God intended to deal with in his judgment of the land. His first message was directed at Ammon to whom God said, “Because thou sadist, Aha, against my sanctuary, when it was profaned; and against the land of Israel, when it was desolate; and against the house of Judah, when they went into captivity…Behold therefore, I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and will deliver thee for a spoil to the heathen; and I will cut thee off from the people, and I will cause thee to perish out of the countries: I will destroy thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 25:3,7). The term “aha” can express surprise or grief, but in this instance, it most likely was meant as an expression of delight that the Israelites had gotten what they deserved.

Among Israel’s enemies was a group of people known as the Philistines. The Philistines occupied territory on the western coast of Israel and were notorious for allowing other conquering nations to access Jerusalem and Judah through their strongholds in the mountains. In particular, when the Assyrians came against Jerusalem, they came through the Philistine cities of Ashdod and Gath, straight toward the capital of Judah (Sennacherib’s Campaign Against Judah, 701 B.C.). In his prophecy against Philistia, Ezekiel foretold, “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because the Philistines have dealt by revenge, and have taken vengeance with a despiteful heart, to destroy it for the old hatred;  therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will stretch out mine hand upon the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethims, and destroy the remnant of the sea coast” (Ezekiel 25:15-16).

As Judah’s destruction approached, it was evident that God intended to wipe out not only the areas of the nation that were occupied by his people, but also all the territory that had originally been given them as an inheritance. In the prophet Micah’s counsel of despair, the people were told the situation was hopeless. He said, “The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among man…Trust ye not a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. For son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law: a man’s enemies are the men of his own house” (Micah 7:2, 5-6).

Repentance (Step 5)

The last step in the process off repentance  is the establishment of a new normal. Many people may want to be normal, but have no idea what that looks like. The mistake often made today is thinking characters seen on TV are normal. Normal is not something that is constructed in our minds, but the usual state or condition we find ourselves in. Normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees. Even though body temperature can fluctuate, it is usually 98.6.

Normal for a child of God is a state of dependence on the one who created us. Believers are acting normal when they pray and ask God for help. Our first priority should be to talk to our heavenly father about what is going on in our lives. When we experience tragedy, we feel and usually know with certainty that it is not normal and we should do something to correct our situation. Repentance is not always necessary, but it is a pathway back to God when fellowship has been broken. Lamentations chapter 5 contains a prayer for mercy. It says in verses 1 – 2, “Remember, O LORD, what is come upon us: consider, and behold our reproach. Our inheritance is turned to strangers, our houses to aliens.”

Before God’s people went into exile, he dealt with them on a national level and the king was his counterpart. Once the nation of Judah was destroyed, each person had to account for his own sin and seek forgiveness on an individual basis. Although the book of Lamentations is written as if the nation of Judah still existed, the use of pronouns such as our and us were meant to convey the feelings and desires of the collective individuals that made up the remnant of God’s people rather than the nation that had ceased to exist (Lamentations 5:16).

In the future, God’s kingdom will be restored, but in a different form. As with each individual that has gone through the process of repentance, God’s people will collectively see the return of Christ and the establishment of a new world order. A petition in Lamentations 5:21, “Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned, renew our days as of old” indicated that conversion, and therefore repentance, would be required of all those who would seek a restored relationship with God and entrance into his kingdom.

Uncircumcised heart

Jeremiah’s assessment of the situation in Judah revealed that the people were not following God’s commandments because they didn’t really know the LORD, they didn’t have a relationship with him (Jeremiah 9:3). Beginning with Abraham, God had made it clear that faith was the only way to enter into a relationship with him. Abraham believed in the LORD and God counted it to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6).

God’s people thought the most important things in life were for them to be wise, powerful, and rich (Jeremiah 9:23). They wanted material success rather than a godly life. They didn’t realize that having a relationship with God was the only way for them to be truly happy. God had to explain to them that his way of life was the opposite of what they were trying to achieve. He said:

Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

One of the ways Jeremiah described being committed to the LORD was to have a circumcised heart. He told the people of Judah to “circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart” (Jeremiah 4:4). Taking away the foreskin was symbolic of being stripped or to go naked (6188). In reference to the heart, it meant you would bare your soul or confess all your sins to God.

The LORD warned his people of a day when the entire world would be punished for sin. Previously, the Israelites expected God to pardon all their sins and establish an eternal kingdom for them in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 7:13). Because of their unfaithfulness, God would only pardon those of his chosen people who repented of their sins and received salvation through Jesus Christ. He said, “Behold the day cometh, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised. For all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart” (Jeremiah 9:25-26).

Born again

John 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This verse established the fact that Jesus was both distinct from God the father, and was God in the fullest sense of who God is. Therefore, when Jesus spoke during his ministry on earth, he was not speaking for God, but as God.

In Isaiah 55:11, it was made clear that God would speak for himself at some point in the future, instead of through a prophet. He said, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” In the same way that God spoke the physical world into existence, so he intended to speak a spiritual world into existence through the teaching of Jesus Christ.

The difference between God’s original work of creation and his work of salvation through Jesus was the eternal durability of the human heart. Whereas the heart of man was originally able to be broken and filled with sin, Jesus made it possible for man’s heart to be regenerated, to be born again (Titus 3:5). Isaiah declared of God, “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15).

The Hebrew word translated revive in Isaiah 57:15 is chayah (khaw – yaw´). This word means “to bring to life” or “to cause to live” (2421). In this instance, God was referring to causing someone to live again in both a physical and spiritual sense. When Jesus told the man Nicodemus he must be born again, Nicodemus asked, “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:4-5).

The key to understanding Jesus’ response to Nicodemus’ question is the word and. Jesus said that a man must be born of water and of the Spirit. Water spoke of the natural birth, coming out of a mother’s womb, and the Spirit referred to the spiritual birth that took place when a person believed that Jesus was the Messiah. Only God could see the result, but Jesus assured Nicodemus that if he believed, Nicodemus would receive eternal life (John 3:16).

A temporary reprieve

Jeroboam II, king of Israel, began his 41 year reign at a time when God’s judgment against Israel was drawing to a close. Jeroboam I was the first king of Israel after the kingdom was divided at the time of Solomon’s death. Jeroboam I caused the people of Israel to sin because he made two calves of gold and said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (1 Kings 12:28).

The sins of Jeroboam I brought a curse upon his household (1 Kings 14:10) that continued until the time of Jeroboam II, about 150 years later. It says of Jeroboam II in 2 Kings 14:24 that “he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.” In spite of his bad behavior, the LORD used Jeroboam II to free the northern kingdom from the oppression it suffered at the hands of the Syrian kings Hazael and Ben-hadad (2 Kings 14:25).

The kingdom of Israel had reached a point where their affliction was very severe. The people were rebelling against God and were on the verge of being wiped out by their enemies. “And the LORD said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven: but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash” (2 Kings 14:27). Jeroboam II was able to create a buffer or safety zone between Israel and Syria that enabled the Israelites to avoid destruction and exile for approximately 3o more years.

During Jeroboam II’s reign, he received a message from the LORD “by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gath-hepher” (2 Kings 14:25). Jonah was sent to Nineveh to deliver a message of destruction to the Syrians, but instead of being destroyed, the people repented and were spared. It is not clear whether Jonah was sent to king Jeroboam II before or after he went to Nineveh, but more than likely Jonah went to Nineveh afterward.

Jonah’s message to the Ninevites may have been taken seriously because Israel had regained a significant amount of territory during Jeroboam II’s reign (2 Kings 14:125, 28). If the Israelites were not a serious threat to Nineveh, it seems unlikely the people would have turned to God for mercy. A key statement recorded in the book of Jonah indicates that the people were aware of God’s mercy toward his people (Jonah 3:9), and king Jeroboam II was a perfect example of that.

Moral decline

The marriage alliance between Jehoshaphat, king of Judah and Ahab, king of Israel was formed primarily to ensure that neither kingdom would be wiped out by Syria. Although the kingdom of Israel was considered to be the dominant partner in the agreement, Jehoshaphat’s devotion to God was a great asset because Ahab knew the LORD’s judgment upon him would eventually come to pass.

After Ahab made a covenant with Ben-hadad, king of Syria, he was told by a prophet of God, “Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people” (1 Kings 20:42). Then, Ahab stole Naboth’s vineyard and received a visit from Elijah, the prophet with a reputation for pronouncing judgment and executing those who defied God.

Elijah’s message to Ahab was clear, his entire household would be wiped out. Because Ahab humbled himself before the LORD, his punishment was postponed, but not retracted. According to the word of the LORD, “because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days, but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house” (1 Kings 21:29).

Not knowing what would happen after his death, Ahab may have planned for his son-in-law, Jehoram to take over as king of Israel when all Ahab’s sons were killed. Since Jehoram was from the tribe of Judah and his father, Jehoshaphat was right with God, it was likely his marriage to Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah would secure the kingdom’s future. Unfortunately, Ahab’s wicked influence on his son-in-law caused Jehoram to turn away from the LORD. It says in 2 Chronicles 21:10 that Jehoram “had forsaken the LORD God of his fathers.”

The word translated forsaken in 2 Chronicles 21:10 is azab. “This word carries a technical sense of ‘completely and permanently abandoned’ or ‘divorced'” (5800). Jehoram’s abandonment of his relationship with the LORD after marrying Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah, brought judgment on the kingdom of Judah. As a result, both dynasties were wiped out.

The only survivor of the royal family in Judah was a baby by the name of Joash, the grandson of Jehoram. “But Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king’s sons that were slain, and put him and his nurse in a bedchamber…And he was with them hid in the house of God six years: and Athaliah reigned over the land” (2 Chronicles 22:12).