(Eze 36:24-28 ESV) 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Ezekiel delivers a series of prophesies about the coming new age. God says he’ll cleanse the people by giving them a new heart and putting his Spirit within them — so they’ll obey him and honor him as God. Notice that the key to the new age is having a heart made right by the Spirit.
Much like the prophecy in Jeremiah 31 quoted in the last post, Ezekiel promises the fulfillment of Deu 30:6 — God himself will change the hearts of his people so that they’ll be obedient — and so they can be his people.
(Eze 37:1-14 ESV) The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2 And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.”
4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them.
9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” 10 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.
11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”
The Spirit God gives will rescue his people from death — their graves — so they can live. The prophet uses ru’ach to mean breath, wind, and Spirit — using the word play to show how the Spirit gives breath = life. Indeed, the Spirit is compared to the wind: “Breathe on these slain, that they may live.”
This is one of the most vivid images in the scriptures, a valley filled with dry bones, representing the dead condition of God’s people — people who will be brought to life by God’s grace, through his Spirit.
This is a further expansion on the theme that began in Deuteronomy 30:6.
(Joe 2:28-29 ESV) 28 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. 29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.”
Here we have the prophecy famously quoted by Peter at Pentecost. Notice the egalitarian tone. The Spirit had been among the Jews for hundreds of years, and primarily (but not only) upon men. But when the Messiah comes, the Spirit will be poured out on “all flesh” — not just Jews — and on both sons and daughters, old and young, and on servants as well.
The Hebrew word for “servants” is ambiguous as to whether slaves or servants are in mind, but the LXX uses the Greek word for slave. Of course, to Jewish eyes, where the Spirit had always come only upon kings, prophets, and other great leaders, the idea of a servant — even a slave girl! — having the Spirit would be truly astounding.