Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.' " So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.' "
The Hebrew word for breath here is ruach (roo-ah). This is the same word used in Genesis 1, where in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and His spirit, or ruach, was hovering over the waters. This is the life-giving, creation-bringing, power-endued breath of the living God.
In this passage, bodies start breathing. Eyes start opening. Re-made people start looking around, and standing up on their feet.
"they came to life and stood upon their feet - a vast army." (verse 10)
But an army doesn't just hang around; an army is empowered with the interests of their home nation. These dry bones have received the breath of life, and divine purpose and meaning. There is no disconnect from God breathing life and God launching into mission.
If you've been made alive in Christ, then you are enlisted. Whether you know it or not, you are in the army. You've got the ruach of God on you. We don't need to go to a conference with the question of "Should I be a missionary?"
The answer is, you already are a missionary! We became missionaries - ambassadors, agents - of God the moment we got breath.
We've been raised up as a generation in order to be sent out. Sent out to do what, though? An army needs marching orders, right?
Those orders are given to us as we begin to understand the heartbeat of Jesus.
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
Jesus saw this as His mission. In Luke 4, God in human flesh began His ministry...
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
Everything they had been waiting for happened right then and there. In Jesus Christ, we see the year of the Lord's favor.
And here's where we fit in. We were the valley of dry bones. We were lifeless without hope. We were the prisoners, the captives, the ashes, the mourning, those in darkness and despair. But just as He did in the valley of dry bones, God has swept into our midst, proclaimed His Word, and then breathed new life into us.
Our ashes have been exchanged. Our mourning has been turned to joy. Our darkness has been filled with light. We are now called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.
We no longer have to sit back, like the people of Nazareth before Jesus rolled up in the synagogue, thinking Maybe someday it's going to be the year of the Lord's favor. Maybe someday God is going to bring freedom.
The tomb is empty now, and death has been defeated now. The year of the Lord's favor is now. Jesus is alive, the Spirit has come, and we have the very breath of the living God in our lungs.
Because of this, everything is different for those who believe.
Our message has changed. I was dead and now I'm alive. I was a stack of dry bones, but God has breathed new life into me, and now I'm alive and going to be alive forever.
Our identity has changed. We are an army. We are priests. We are the rebuilders of the devastation. We are the people of God, raised to new life in Jesus Christ. We were not, and now we are. We weren't a people, and now we are not just a people, we are the people of God.
Our witness has changed. That witness is our healed, and healing wounds to show what changes when we are brought from death to life.
Our freedom has changed. We have been given freedom for the sake of freedom. Because Christ has set us free, we are to commit ourselves to the cause of bringing freedom to others. That means that we devote ourselves to the twenty-seven million people who are captive to some form of slavery all across the world. It means that we proclaim the year of the Lord's favor not as an idea, but as a reality.
Our worship has changed. Worship is what happens when we give God His breath back. God gave us His ruach, when we were dead in our sins. When we worship, we give it back, and we do that every moment of our lives.
We are either going to live as if nothing has changed, or live as if everything is already changed. Because in Jesus, everything has changed. Everything changed the day He gave you His ruach.