Scripture reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Ezekiel was a very unpopular prophet when he first started his ministry. He had been prophesying to the children of Israel for years that the sins of Israel were going to cause the fall of Jerusalem. It was a message that didn’t tickle their ears, so they chose not to heed the warnings that He gave them. Many of his contemporaries, who were proven to be false prophets, proclaimed positive, feel good messages, but Ezekiel continued to proclaim the truth of God and eventually his prophecies came to fruition.
Now as we find Israel captive, Jerusalem in rubble, we see God giving Ezekiel a new message, a message of hope in a valley of dry bones. The man of God is surrounded by death, hopelessness, and despair. As far as his eye can see there is only brokenness emptiness, despair, and death. The valley that he is standing in, is the valley of death.
Today, especially here in the United states, many in the church are discovering that they are in a valley of death much like the one in Ezekiel’s vision. Ministries have died here, hope for healing has died here, marriages have died here, dreams have died here, and hope for a better tomorrow has died here. The smell of the corpses is in the air, there is not one drop of blood or moisture anywhere because the altar has been torn down. There is nothing, not even a hint that their situation could change.
But don’t you know that the God we serve loves impossible situations? Why? Because when the impossible becomes a reality, He gets all the glory! I want to tell somebody today who is facing an impossible situation: God can turn it around! It doesn't matter how impossible it looks, you just need to look at that mountain or look at the valley of dry bones and start speaking, “thus saith the Lord.”
The key to everything is in v. 9: it is the wind. The wind represents the Spirit of God being placed back into their hopeless situation. In v. 14 God says He will put his spirit back into their dead bodies and they will live again. Without the operation and activity of the Holy Spirit’s power instead of a mighty army all that would have been there was a valley full of dead bodies with no power and no life.
The bones were connected and muscles, ligaments, sinews and skin were restored to them, but there was still no life in them. There was no power in them until the wind began to blow. When the wind began to blow everything changed. When the wind began to blow power and life came. As the breath of God filled them the valley of dead corpses became a mighty army of God.
The breath of God, the wind in Ezekiel’s vision, is the same wind that flooded the place where Jesus’ followers were gathered on the day of Pentecost, the same breath that filled the bodies of 120 men and women with the supernatural life of God.
One of the most important lessons we learn from Ezekiel 37 is that as far as God is concerned, if you leave the Holy Spirit out of the equation you have nothing. Without the activity and operation of the Holy Spirits power instead of a mighty army of warriors’ ready for battle all we would have seen was a valley full of dead bodies.
We can put it together, we can dress the way that God expects, we can put on great Sunday School lessons, we can sing the right worship songs, we can preach all the feel-good sermons you can imagine, but if we don't have the life giving anointing that comes from the presence and the power of the Holy Ghost we have nothing.
Without the Holy Spirit's power, it doesn’t matter how many people are sitting in the pews of our church, it doesn’t matter how big our offerings are, or how big of a following we have, our church is dead, it's worthless, it's powerless, and it's impotent. Without the Holy Spirit's power and presence and operation, all of our activity is dead and all death can birth is more death. Dead preaching kills, dead teaching kills, and dead singing kills. Only the Anointing of the Holy Spirit can produce life.
Just as the body without blood is dead, the church is dead without the presence and anointing of the Holy Spirit. Dead means void of the presence, and power of the Holy Spirit. Death is incapable of producing life. It is powerless to lift, powerless to heal, and powerless to deliver anyone from the chains of sin.
We see here in Ezekiel’s vision that one of the first things that must happen is a divine connection. We must find our divine connections. God’s children don't fit everywhere with everybody. One of the biggest hindrances to gaining the power and anointing that God wants for us, is wrong connections.
Flesh connections, connections and relationships that are birthed by fleshly lusts, wants, and desires.
You cannot have fellowship with the world, and with the Savior of the world at the same time. You cannot win the lost by becoming lost yourself. No matter how well-intentioned you are, my grandmother was right (she was always right), bad company corrupts good moral. You will never have the full potential of God’s power in your life until you have broken your flesh connections.
Flesh connections war against the will and the Spirit of God. Abraham had a great promise and destiny, but it could not come to pass until he cut off his flesh connection with lot. Flesh connections will always war for first place in your life, they will always war against the Spirit.
Divine connections will always feed into your anointing and your destiny. They will always strengthen your faith in God. If you have fleshly connections, get rid of them, cut them off before they destroy you, your family, and your ministry.
Now in the valley the bones are connected to their right bones and then muscles and flesh and skin come upon them, but they are still dead. Why? Because the Word alone is not enough. Yes, the Word will put meat on your bones, yes the Word of God will fatten you up. But without the anointing the bones are still dead. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. It doesn't matter how much Hebrew and Greek you have studied or how many verses of the Bible you have memorized, what matters most is that you have the Holy Spirit.
The bones were placed in order, all the components were there, on the surface everything appeared good, but they were still dead. The Holy Spirit is the life source and the life force of the church. The Holy Ghost is not an optional accessory like power seats or power windows, or heated mirrors. The Holy Spirit is a necessity, in fact the Holy Spirit is a command.
“4 Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. 5 John baptized with[b] water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
We need to understand that we have a very real adversary who is bent on destroying us. The one who gives you power over the devil is the Holy Spirit. The name of Jesus gives us authority to exercise that power. Every believer has the right to the use of the name of Jesus to exercise the power of the Holy Spirit, but if you do not have the Holy Ghost, you don't have power. You're like a security guard with a badge but no gun.
The church that rejects the Holy Spirit and all His manifestations and operations will experience death. Their building may be beautiful, their message may sound good, they may have a large congregation, and the services may be impressive, but without the Holy Spirit, it is dead. Life in the presence and power of the Holy Ghost, or death in a valley of dry bones: It’s a choice we must make, anointed or disappointed!
The Church can survive without a lot of things: we can live without stained glass windows, we can live without padded pews, we can live without great talent, and we can even survive without central heating and air conditioning, but we cannot live without the breath of life. We cannot live without the power of the Holy Ghost!