This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. — Ezekiel 37:1-28* * Complete text below
"The Quest of God"
Does history sacred or profane offer a more ridiculous picture than this? Here is hopelessness incarnate, whoever preached to a more dumb audience? Preachers deal with possibilities. Prophets deal with impossibilities. Isaiah had seen this nation full of wounds and putrefying sores, but the disease has progressed to death, death to disintegration, and now these disjointed bones spell out total despair. Written over the whole situation is impossibility. Now obviously, no faith is required to do the possible, and actually only a tiny morsel of what God calls faith is needed to do the impossible. Again and again the church is called upon, not to do what she can do, but what she cannot do, to prove that there is no slight of hand, but simply that she is linked her impotence to His omnipotence and the word impossible is dropped from her vocabulary. The Church like Ezekiel is faced with impossibilities, before us is these heaps of dry dead bones, and the question is being asked over and over again, can these bones live? We have tried to answer the question with our programs and theological juggling, and have sent them home saying we were clever fellows, yet we have left them in spiritual darkness. There is only one answer to this question, the Church must come to the same place Ezekiel came to, and say, "Thou knowest Lord." Realizing that it is only as we are linked with Him, only as He can live His life through us, that the dead dry bones will hear the Word of the Lord. The Church must so live, as she did in the beginning, that it is no longer she but Christ that liveth. Ezekiel faced with this impossibility, this mountain of dry bones, must say, "Be thou removed." So he said, and so it was. Here was a curse, did he have a cure, here was death could he bring life. This is not matter of doctrinal dispute, this is a matter of life and death, so must it be with the Church today. The world is not waiting for a new definition of the Gospel, but for a new demonstration of its power. In these days of acute political helplessness, moral lawlessness, and spiritual hopelessness, where are the men of faith? No faith is required to curse the darkness, or to give staggering statistical evidence that this generation has totally lost it sense of morality. Doctrine we have enough and to spare while a sick world perishes with hunger. At this grim hour the Church sleeps in light and world sleeps in darkness. The Church militant has become the Church impotent and all the while the blessed Holy Ghost is looking for men who will trample underfoot their own learning, deflate their inflated ego, confessing that with all their seeing they are blind. Who, at the price of brokenness and with strong crying, seek that they may be anointed with Divine eye salve which can only be bought with honest acknowledgment of spiritual poverty? I read where a preacher put a sign on the front of his church which read, "This church will have a revival or a funeral." With such despair God is well pleased, and hell is despondent. Madness you say, exactly. A sober church never does any good. We need men drunk on the Holy Ghost at this hour. Has God excelled Himself, were Wesley, Whitfield, Finney, Moody, and others special editions of ministers, never, as I read the Book of Acts I come to the conclusion that they were just the normal. We safeguard our spiritual bankruptcy by overstating the sovereignty of God, and blunder on in an atmosphere of stagnant dispensationalism. All while hell fills. We are living in the time spoken of by the Prophet Isaiah, children are coming forth to the birth and there is not enough strength to bring forth. In this dark hour the preacher and church are fonder of traveling than travailing, hence no
births. This sick world needs preachers who are out of step with a church that is out of joint. Note Ezekiel was Spirit led. As a man he must have shuddered at this appalling sight of dry bones. What fear must have taken hold of his soul? Ezekiel should have had a press photograph of this, and with a love of statistic's he should have counted the bones. Instead he moves softly before the Lord. Standing here in this valley, his only company a mountain of dry bones, his only spectators' heaven and hell. Ezekiel declares, "I prophesied as I was commanded." Here is the solution to the matter; he was a fool for God. "O ye dry bones here the word of the LORD." He spoke to bones. Hear and they had ears to hear, madness, yes insanity of virgin purity, Ezekiel did as he was told. We of course modify the commands to save face and in so doing we lose our place. Ezekiel obeyed and God operated. He always does. Ezekiel never looked at the bones he looked to God. He never looked at his impotence, he look at God's omnipotence. He never looked at the hopelessness of the situation, he looked at the promise. When will we, the Church, learn, it is better to obey than to sacrifice, when will we learn to stop looking at the situation and look to God. There was a great noise that would have suited us, we would have dismissed the service and talked about how great it was. Not Ezekiel, he never mistook commotion for creation, action for unction, nor rattle for revival. With one breath God could have raised this heap of bones to life, but there were many operations. Bones came together, bone to his bone. Such phenomena would have put us into hysterics, not so with Ezekiel. Not a valley full of dry bones now, but a valley full of skeletons. What good are they? Can they fight the battle of the Lord, can they bring glory to His name? Not for one moment would I discredit anything that is done, nor would I take the responsibility of saying who was saved and who was not when they gather around the alter. But one thing I believe, and that is, when a man or woman is born again there is a holy zeal placed in that individual's heart, and they won't lose that zeal before the next service. When a man is born again there is a new creature, and the church he once hated he will now love. If a man does not love the church he is not born again. We are prone to count the skeletons that come to the altar, moved yes, but as yet have no life. Convicted but not begotten. How many thousands have been in altars of the church, convicted of sin, someone shows them John 3:16 and asks them if they believe it. They answer in the affirmative, and the worker tells them to go and live for God. He cannot live for God until he has been born again, and if he is born again you won't have to tell him to live for God, that will be his nature. The task of the church is to get men to God, and when we get them there see that they get through to God. We must not leave them there as skeletons. Now a little flesh upon the skeleton, how a little skin on the flesh so we have a valley full of corpses. Any good to God? Not yet. They have eyes but cannot see, feet but cannot walk, so are those who do not seek until this last thing happens. "So I prophesied again." Holding on resisting doubt. Instead of being discourage at the skeletons, Ezekiel took it that God was with him, and alone with God he prevailed. With our slick advertising and gimmicks we can get the crowds, but who can say, I prophesied again and they lived. Sometimes I wonder if we even know that He commanded us. Is there a pain in our heart for the perishing millions around us. Does the toll of one hundred twenty people dying without Christ every minute turn our garment of praise into a spirit of heaviness. Can we at this moment look into the face of God and say, Lord I am doing my best. Do we count in hell? I mean by that do the powers of darkness really dread us. Preachers to add to its melancholy. This world needs Spirit filled, Spirit led men and women, who will challenge and invade the forces of hell with the message, "Thus saith the LORD, let my people go." The Church is asleep, and John citizen stands bewildered as the spectator, seeing the Russelites, Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Scientists, peddling their poison at their door. He has heard of the gospel with the hearing of the ear, but his eyes have never seen, and his soul has never felt the power of a divine visitation, he has every right to say, "Where is their God?" What shall we answer them? One of the most painful things in life is to face up to the truth. We are all well conditioned to doctrine, most of us know what the average preacher will say next, but a razor is a blunt thing compared to a Spirit-edged truth. Seeing we are members in particular of the Body of Christ let's shoulder our responsibility. There are two vital things which have been lost to the Church, and until those things are
restored she will never bring forth as God intended. The old saints used to sing, "Blessed are the men with broken hearts, who mourn for sin with inward smart." Notice two vital things, a broken heart, and a mourning for sin. "A broken and a contrite Spirit O God thou wilt not despise." The fact is God only uses broken things. Jesus took the lad's bread and broke it, then and only then could it feed the multitudes. Only after the alabaster box was broken could its fragrance fill the room. "This is my body which is broken for you" — this is the way of the Master's shouldn't the servant tread it still. In saving our lives, we not only lose them, we lose others as well. "Oh that my head were waters" cried Jeremiah. "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." (Psalms 6:126) Our eyes are dry because our hearts are dry. Two Salvation Army officers once wrote General Booth asking for a transfer saying, we have tried everything and still no revival. The General wrote back one line, "Try tears." They did and revival came. Then there is this second thing, a deep mourning for sin. Bible schools do not teach this, they cannot, this is Spirit taught, and the teacher no matter how weighed down with degrees has not gotten far unless he knows soul bitterness over sin of his day. A repeated cry of David Livingston was; "Lord, when will the wounds of this world's sin be healed?" Are we grief stricken in our prayer? Do we soak our pillows as John Welch did in our soul travail? The scholarly Andrew Bonar lay on his bed on a Saturday night in Scotland, and as the people below tramped the streets from the taverns and theaters, they could hear the cry of his tortured heart, "They perish, they perish." We have not so learned Christ. Then, what of sin? Fools mock at sin, says the Bible. Only a fool could mock at sin. The schoolmen of the Church have labeled seven deadly sins, we know they are wrong. All sin is deadly. We the Church are faced with a pleasure mad generation who could care less about God. They are insulated with a cultivated, indifference to spiritual things, millions of them flaunt a sodomic standard of morality. There is but one answer to the godlessness and lawlessness that is sweeping this world. The Church must again be the Church: She must through weeping, travailing prayer, and unctionized preaching loose the mighty river of the Holy Ghost. She must again become the vessel of God. We must again in this end time become a people of the altar, a people dead to everything that is not Christ. A Man of God must lead the Church back to reality. Ezekiel 37:1-28 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our
bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD. The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.