A Corporate Resurrection
So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Ezekiel 37:10
Just across the border from Iraq in Syria, along the River Euphrates, an ancient synagogue that dates back to the Third Century known as Dura-Europos was discovered in 1932. Along its wall are elaborate frescoes that feature nearly 60 scenes from the Old Testament. Among the scenes are three panels from the familiar account of Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones. These painted walls of this synagogue have been studied by Jewish and Christian art historians and theologians alike. But special attention has been given to these panels of the Valley of Dry Bones with their emphasis on resurrection. For a people who were in the darkness and ruin of life in exile, the theme and hope of resurrection for many was powerful.
The scene of Ezekiel standing among the many dry bones is quite distinct in the Scriptures. While we have seen everyone from the prophet Elijah to St. Paul raise the dead and most certainly our Lord, the valley of dry bones is a different because it is a corporate resurrection. It is different than it was for Jairus, Mary and Martha, and the widows of Nain and Zarephath because those involved the raising of single individuals. But the vision that Ezekiel sees is of a valley full of dry bones that come together as a vast army. Just as God breathed into Adam the breath of life at His creation, what we see in this resurrection prophecy is the Spirit of God coming upon those who are dead to raise them as His New Creation. This is the Spirit who gives life through the water and the word at the font. But this is also the Spirit who will bring life to those who are dead in the resurrection on the last day. This is God’s faithful promise to the Church Militant waiting to be the Church Triumphant – “You shall live.”
As we stand on the precipice of Holy Week and the events that lead to the cross and tomb, we can’t help but hear the Passion account with the expectation of resurrection. Ezekiel’s vision gave hope to the despairing exiles that their suffering and even death would one day give way to resurrection through the work of the Spirit of the Lord. May these hopeful words fill our ears and hearts with the anticipation of the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting during these dark and latter days.
Prayer - Almighty God, by Your great goodness mercifully look upon Your people that we may be governed and preserved evermore in body and soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan