29 March 2020 – God’s Restoration

This message is based on our bible reading:

  • Ezekiel 37:1-14
  • John 11:1-45

Text: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Introduction

Ezekiel tells us how the Lord led him in a vision and set him in the valley of ‘Dry Bones’. I must confess my mind goes back to the song, Dry bones, perhaps that is showing my age.

Ezekiel, which means, ‘God Will Strengthen’ or ‘God Strengthens’, ministered for twenty years as one of the Prophets taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC. In our New Testament reading we are introduced to Mary, Martha and Lazarus. It was Mary who in John’s Gospel that wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair, Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume ; she poured it on Jesus feet and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
(John 12:3 GNV)

The Restoration of a Nation

Sometime ago there was a TV programme about people who where experts in restoring old master pieces of furniture. By doing so their value was greatly increased. What about the old violin that nobody wanted until it was touched by the Masters hand, T’was battered and scarred, and the auctioneer thought it hardly worth his while to waste his time on the old violin, but he held it up with a smile.

From the room far back a gray bearded man came forward and picked up the bow, Then wiping the dust from the old violin And tightening up the strings, He played a melody, pure and sweet, As sweet as the angel sings. The music ceased and the auctioneer with a voice that was quiet and low, Said, “What now am I bid for this old violin?” The violin was restored by the touch of the Masters’ Hand.

What we are confronted with in Ezekiel 37 is twofold:

  1. the national resurrection and the restoration of Israel and
  2. the reunion of a nation from two kingdoms into one nation. (Just like Germany after the wall came down.)

We must keep in mind that this was a vision given by God of assurance that the nation would be restored, and it was given to Ezekiel on the eve before the messenger came with news of the destruction of Jerusalem. But what does this mean?

The bones coming together is speaking to us that the dead nation would be resurrected and not a physical resurrection of a dead army. That is why when we read in verse 13, we see the bones coming out of the grave, that God’s power is at work. God’s Grace, His unmerited love at work. God healing and God uniting, “Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.” Ezekiel 37:13-14. In 538 BC the nation was united. Cyrus, the Persian conqueror of Babylon allowed the Jews to go home with the Temple treasures. Look at Ezra 1:2-14.

The Raising of Lazarus

There is no doubt about Jesus friendship with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. There is no doubt the reason why Jesus allowed his friend to die, after all He only had to say the word and Lazarus would have been healed. Jesus did not need to touch him to be restored as in the case of the nobleman’s son in John 4:46-53. Again in Matthew 8:8.

Read of the centurion’s daughter, The centurion replied,”Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. So there was a purpose in allowing His friend to go through his illness and even death itself. Lazarus earthly body was starting to decay, after all he had been in the grave four days, this takes away that he was in a coma. When Jesus said to Martha that her brother will live again, she thought Jesus meant at the resurrection of the dead on the last day. “I know,” she replied, “That he will rise to life on the last day.” John 11:24. Jesus like Ezekiel makes it clear why this happened. “This has happened in order to bring Glory to God, and it will be the means by which the Son of God will receive glory.” John 11:4 In the midst of their grief Jesus brings them and us back to the real world and points out to us all, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in Me will live, even though they die, and all those who live and believe in me will never die. Do you believe this?” What was Martha’s reply? “Yes Lord”, she answered, “I do believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” John 11:25-27.

Here we see the Power, the Mercy and the Glory of God in bringing back to life Lazarus. Weeping was turned into joy. All knew that Lazarus was dead and now he was a live, talking to them and eating with them, the family was complete again. All the people were glorifying God and all now know that He is the Son of God.
These two passages come to us in their rightful place, just before Palm Sunday and Easter.

What is all this saying to us today?

When we look back to Ezekiel, his vision was followed by captivity in Babylon, the raising of Lazarus was followed by Calvary. The words of the 1966 world cup spring to mind, “They think it’s all over.” But it wasn’t. Satan thought by getting the people to kill Jesus on the cross meant that it was all over, but it is in fact only the beginning.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16