The prophet Ezekiel lived and wrote during the first exile (about 570 BC). King Nebuchadnezzar took him captive to Babylon. While in Babylon, Ezekiel wrote incredibly detailed prophecies about the worldwide dispersion and rebirth of the nation of Israel —with awesome imagery, the prophet gives a detailed look at God’s plan for Israel and the nations.
Chapter 36 gives a panoramic view of what was going to happen to Israel. The prophet first mentions the destruction of the nation and the wasting of the land. He then follows with the promise that the land will once again be fruitful and inhabited. Ezekiel promises the Jewish people would again dwell in the land that God promised to their fathers. The fathers are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with whom God made the everlasting covenant.
When reading this chapter, the picture comes to mind of the prophet standing on a mountain ledge overlooking a large valley full of dead men’s dry bones. These bones represent the nation of Israel. God gives this picture to show the utter hopelessness of the nation. The nation was completely dead with no hope of ever living. What hope can dead men’s bones have for ever living again, none!
Ezekiel does not end with the hopelessness. He shows that by a sovereign act of God, the nation was to be reborn. The prophet watched as the nation came together in a piece-meal method. The first step is the bones coming together. The sinew holding the bones follows this. And, finally the flesh covers the bones. At the very end of this process, God put life in the body, and that life will happen at the second coming of the Lord Jesus.
God is working in the affairs of men and governments to resurrect the valley of dried bones into an exceedingly great army. This will happen according to the will of God in order to fulfil His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Ezekiel connects the resurrection of the dead nation with God granting the land to Jacob. This is again a reference to the everlasting covenant. Time after time, over and over again, the Bible connects the dispersion and then rebirth of Israel to the everlasting covenant. The Bible is crystal clear that when the nation is reborn, it is because God honoured His covenant. God is working in the affairs of men and nations to fulfil His ancient promise. God cannot lie, and His word cannot fail.
(Extracted from John McTernan, Defend and Proclaim the Faith)