What did it feel like to hear the booming voice of God in a valley full of the remnants of people who were once alive asking if bones could become alive again? After the shock of a God that is both enormous and interactive speaking to the weakest member of the weakest tribe wears off a bit, the answer seems obvious. These bones are not only dead, they are dry. The life has been gone from them for so long that they are nearly dust. But God still asks, “Son of dust, can these bones become people again?” Ezekiel knows that without a miracle, these bones will not have life in them ever again. But God asks him anyway. Here God is asking one of those questions that he often asks – the kind to which he knows the listener will not have an answer but that cause him to know God more and, therefore, love him more.
Maybe God brought his prophet to the Valley of Dry Bones and showed him a pile of people so dead that they were nearly dust, and called him there in the midst of that carnage “Son of dust” to remind him that he was as much in need of the life-giving breath of God as the bones that surrounded him. As Adam was formed from dust with the power of God’s breath, so Ezekiel watched God’s army form in front of him. God brings everything into connection and allows a brief glimpse of his omnipresence in that moment. It was in that moment that the prophet realized that he was called to love people, dead people, with love of the same caliber as the love with which Creator God loved the dust that made the first man. And if God’s people are to love the death out of dried up bones, they will have to remember the love that resuscitated them. If God’s prophet is ever going to see a living army in front of him, ready and willing to fight, he will have to love them while they are still dry as Christ loved his creation while they were yet dead.
It was in that moment that the prophet realized that he was called to love people, dead people, with love of the same caliber as the love with which Creator God loved the dust that made the first man. And if God’s people are to love the death out of dried up bones, they will have to remember the love that resuscitated them.
Because God loves the weak, he calls them into cemeteries full of corpses and there tells them to prophesy. Because God loves the decomposing people in the valleys, he sends them aid. And because God knows that even the weak forget how dead they once were, he brings them to the Valley of Dry Bones, calls them the Children of Dust, and reminds them from whence they received life. Each man must know that underneath his skin, he is made of bones – just like the ones that lie rotting in the valley. Each man must remember that God loved life into him when he was nothing but dust – dry bones with no hope. And each man must know that his breath is divinely given to believe in the potential of the dry, dying, and dead bones around him to come to life. Remember the drought, lest it returns.