Prayer Focus: Mozambique

Scripture:Bible Reading: Ezekiel 37-40

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them.14 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 37:11-14)

 

18 “When your people ask you, ‘Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?’19 say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick. I will make them into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’20 Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on21 and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land.22 I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.23 They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezekiel 37:18-23)

 

Observation:

God allowed his people to be in exile for the purpose of reconciling.  (Ezekiel 37:18-23)  But what triggers the timing of prophesy to bring them back together and restore them to their land?  Why did God use the valley of dry bones to illustrate this promise?

To be honest, in all the years I’ve read this passage I’ve never asked myself those questions until today.  I always got caught up in the imagery of the illustration.

I believe that God wanted to keep the hope of the people alive.  They were feeling abandoned by God and some had even lost hope.  Verse 11 says “Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off”.

Hope.

When I let my heart rest here on this concept, the Holy Spirit unfolded verse after verse from my memory.   I have decided to get out of the way and let scripture spell out why God felt it so important to restore the hope of his people.  The scriptures are active links, so you can read them in context.

 

Psalm 130:7 (NIV)

Israel, put your hope in the lord, for with the lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.

Jeremiah 31:17 (NIV)

So there is hope for your descendants,” declares the lord. “Your children will return to their own land.

 

Those are a few that pertain to the Israelites for their time and their situation, prophesy that was spoken to increase their hope.

 

Application:

“So what has this got to do with me and the circumstances I live in today?” 

Romans 15:12 (NIV)

And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.”

 

Romans 15:4 (NIV)

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

 

“Why is hope so important?” 

My study of hope tells me that it is tied together with our faith:

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

 

Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:8 (NIV)

But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

 

Romans 15:13 (NIV)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

“What can we do when we have hope?”

Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV)

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

 

Mark 9:23 (NIV)

“‘if you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

 

Romans 12:12 (

 

The last word

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

Prayer:

Father God, I echo Paul when I pray for those who read to day:

“Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you’re in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.” 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5 (MSG)

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