He brought me out by the spirit of the Lord…in the middle of a valley…full of bones. There were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Ezekiel 37:1-3
“Not quite two weeks after the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died after a now-former Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck, it (was) already clear that what happened to him—and the protests that followed—will be in history books someday,” reported Time Magazine. “The moment is not only a striking turning point in an ongoing Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality, but also set apart by a global pandemic that is disproportionately affecting African Americans.” The questions remained: how long would the protests continue, and would there be real, sustainable, systemic change in the way police interact with the black and brown populations in the United States? I am standing on God’s promise that love will overcome hate and peace will replace outrage.
The story of Ezekiel and his vision of the dry bones has some parallels with the George Floyd killing and the world’s reaction. The ruthless Babylonians destroyed the temple in Ezekiel’s hometown of Jerusalem in about 587BC. The Israelites were discouraged and thought God was not powerful enough to protect his chosen people. But God gave Ezekiel a vision of a valley of skeletons and instructed Ezekiel to prophesy hope to the bones. Flesh and sinews appeared on the bones and God breathed physical and spiritual life into them. The vision meant that the Israelites would survive the oppression they were experiencing. More importantly, the people would survive because of God’s power and love for them throughout their dismal circumstances.
Ezekiel’s story became popular among black preachers after the Civil War. James Weldon Johnson even wrote a song, “Dem Bones,” which became an anthem for early black social movements. And today, we see the Black Lives Matter movement engaging the entire world in support of humane treatment for people of color. God can put new life in those who have been oppressed far too long. Let us all work towards a world of zero oppression.
Lord, speak to the weary bones and hearts and souls of the oppressed. Let them feel Your resurrecting power. Amen