September 20, 2009 – September 26, 2009
“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.” Ezekiel 37:10.
Study Help: Messages to Young People, 71–74; The Review and Herald, January 17, 1893.
“What could the might and power of man accomplish with these dead bones? The prophet could see no hope of life being imparted to them. But as he looked, the power of God began to work.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1165.
1 What plan did God have for His people at the end of the Babylonian captivity? Ezekiel 36:24, 25. What parallel does this plan imply?
Note: “The work of restoration and reform carried on by the returned exiles, under the leadership of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, presents a picture of a work of spiritual restoration that is to be wrought in the closing days of this earth’s history.” Prophets and Kings, 677.
2 What did God mean when He promised to give His remnant people a new heart? Ezekiel 36:26; John 3:5–7.
Note. “When Jesus speaks of the new heart, He means the mind, the life, the whole being. To have a change of heart is to withdraw the affections from the world, and fasten them upon Christ. To have a new heart is to have a new mind, new purposes, new motives. What is the sign of a new heart?—A changed life. There is a daily, hourly dying to selfishness and pride.” Messages to Young People, 72.
3 How is God’s promise of a new heart to affect our lives in a practical way? II Corinthians 5:17.
Note: “When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God.” The Desire of Ages, 173.
4 What great miracle is performed in the human life? Ezekiel 36:27; Romans 8:1–4.
Note: “Is it not a miracle that we can break from the bondage of Satan? Enmity against Satan is not natural to the human heart; it is implanted by the grace of God. When one who has been controlled by a stubborn, wayward will is set free, and yields himself wholeheartedly to the drawing of God’s heavenly agencies, a miracle is wrought; so also when a man who has been under strong delusion comes to understand moral truth. Every time a soul is converted, and learns to love God and keep His commandments, the promise of God is fulfilled, ‘A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.’ Ezekiel 36:26. The change in human hearts, the transformation of human characters, is a miracle that reveals an ever-living Saviour, working to rescue souls. A consistent life in Christ is a great miracle.” The Desire of Ages, 407.
5 How should God’s mercy inspire us to bring forth fruits of true repentance? Ezekiel 36:29–31.
Note: “It is to those whom the Lord has forgiven, to those whom He acknowledges as His people, that He says, ‘Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight.’ Ezekiel 36:31. … Then our lips will not be opened in self-glorification. We shall know that our sufficiency is in Christ alone.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 160, 161.
6 What does the Bible teach about sanctification? John 17:17; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
Note: “The Scriptures teach us to seek for the sanctification to God of body, soul, and spirit. In this work we are to be laborers together with God. Much may be done to restore the moral image of God in man, to improve the physical, mental, and moral capabilities. Great changes can be made in the physical system by obeying the laws of God and bringing into the body nothing that defiles. And while we cannot claim perfection of the flesh, we may have Christian perfection of the soul. Through the sacrifice made in our behalf, sins may be perfectly forgiven.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 32.
7 What was Ezekiel shown in vision to symbolize the spiritual condition of the people of Israel? Ezekiel 37:1–3. What is the present-day application of that vision?
Note: “The souls of those whom we desire to save are like the representation which Ezekiel saw in vision,—a valley of dry bones. They are dead in trespasses and sins, but God would have us deal with them as though they were living. Were the question put to us, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ our answer would be only the confession of ignorance, ‘O Lord, Thou knowest.’ [Ezekiel 37:3.] To all appearance there is nothing to lead us to hope for their restoration. Yet nevertheless the word of the prophecy must be spoken even to those who are like the dry bones in the valley. We are in no wise to be deterred from fulfilling our commission by the listlessness, the dullness, the lack of spiritual perception, in those upon whom the Word of God is brought to bear. We are to preach the word of life to those whom we may judge to be as hopeless subjects as though they were in their graves.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1165.
8 What miracle did Ezekiel witness? Ezekiel 37:5–10. How is this miracle accomplished today?
Note: “It is not the human agent that is to inspire with life. The Lord God of Israel will do that part, quickening the lifeless spiritual nature into activity. The breath of the Lord of hosts must enter into the lifeless bodies. In the judgment, when all secrets are laid bare, it will be known that the voice of God spoke through the human agent, and aroused the torpid conscience, and stirred the lifeless faculties, and moved sinners to repentance and contrition, and forsaking of sins. It will then be clearly seen that through the human agent faith in Jesus Christ was imparted to the soul, and spiritual life from heaven was breathed upon one who was dead in trespasses and sins, and he was quickened with spiritual life.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1165.
9 What does the vision of Ezekiel represent? Ezekiel 37:11, 12.
Note: “Not only does this simile of the dry bones apply to the world, but also to those who have been blessed with great light; for they also are like the skeletons of the valley. They have the form of men, the framework of the body; but they have not spiritual life. But the parable does not leave the dry bones merely knit together into the forms of men; for it is not enough that there is symmetry of limb and feature. The breath of life must vivify the bodies, that they may stand upright, and spring into activity. These bones represent the house of Israel, the church of God, and the hope of the church is the vivifying influence of the Holy Spirit. The Lord must breathe upon the dry bones, that they may live.
“The Spirit of God, with its vivifying power, must be in every human agent, that every spiritual muscle and sinew may be in exercise. Without the Holy Spirit, without the breath of God, there is torpidity of conscience, loss of spiritual life. Many who are without spiritual life have their names on the church records, but they are not written in the Lamb’s book of life. They may be joined to the church, but they are not united to the Lord. They may be diligent in the performance of a certain set of duties, and may be regarded as living men; but many are among those who have ‘a name that thou livest, and art dead.’ [Revelation 3:1.]” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1165, 1166.
10 What does the Lord offer us in answer to our great need? Ezekiel 37:14.
Note: “Unless there is genuine conversion of the soul to God; unless the vital breath of God quickens the soul to spiritual life; unless the professors of truth are actuated by heaven-born principle, they are not born of the incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth forever. Unless they trust in the righteousness of Christ as their only security; unless they copy His character, labor in His spirit, they are naked, they have not on the robe of His righteousness. The dead are often made to pass for the living; for those who are working out what they term salvation after their own ideas, have not God working in them to will and to do of His good pleasure.
“This class is well represented by the valley of dry bones Ezekiel saw in vision.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1166.
“The conversion of the human soul is of no little consequence. It is the greatest miracle performed by divine power. Actual results are to be reached through a belief in Christ as a personal Saviour. Purified by obedience to the law of God, sanctified by a perfect observance of His holy Sabbath, trusting, believing, patiently waiting, and earnestly working out our own salvation with fear and trembling, we shall learn that it is God that worketh in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Evangelism, 289.
“Man must not only read the Word of God, supposing that a casual knowledge of this Word will bring about in him a reformation of character. This work only the One who is the way, the truth, and the life can accomplish. Firmly may certain doctrines of truth be held. Again and again they may be reiterated, till the holders come to think that they are indeed in possession of the great blessings which these doctrines represent. But the greatest, most powerful truths may be held, and yet kept in the outer court, exerting little influence to make the daily life wholesome and fragrant. The soul is not sanctified through the truth that is not practiced.
“All, high or low, if they are unconverted, are on one common platform. Men may turn from one doctrine to another. This is being done, and will be done. Papists may change from Catholicism to Protestantism; yet they may know nothing of the meaning of the words, ‘A new heart also will I give you.’ [Ezekiel 36:26.] Accepting new theories, and uniting with a church, do not bring new life to anyone, even though the church with which he unites may be established on the true foundation. Connection with a church does not take the place of conversion. To subscribe the name to a church creed is not of the least value to anyone if the heart is not truly changed.” Evangelism, 290, 291.
“We must have more than an intellectual belief in the truth. Many of the Jews were convinced that Jesus was the Son of God, but they were too proud and ambitious to surrender. They decided to resist the truth, and they maintained their opposition. They did not receive into the heart the truth as it is in Jesus. When truth is held as truth only by the conscience, when the heart is not stimulated and made receptive, only the mind is affected. But when the truth is received as truth by the heart, it has passed through the conscience, and has captivated the soul with its pure principles. It is placed in the heart by the Holy Spirit, who reveals its beauty to the mind, that its transforming power may be seen in the character.” The Review and Herald, February 14, 1899.
“The conversion of souls to God is the greatest work, the highest work, in which human beings can have a part.” Evangelism, 292.
©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.