The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Ezekiel 37: 1-3 NIV
The well-known story of the valley of dry bones is recorded in Ezekiel 37. The prophet Ezekiel wrote of how God set him down in the middle of a valley which was full of many bones, very dry bones. God asked Ezekiel, can these bones live? Ezekiel rightly and humbly answered “Lord, you know”. And so started the conversation to one of the greatest encounters of a prophet ( in my opinion ) with God.
Yet that encounter started in a valley.
God set Ezekiel down in the middle of a valley and out of that valley experience came a very rich word. Valleys, no one choses valley experiences of their own accord. Valleys represent bad times when we feel troubled. During valley situations, we can feel overwhelmed and discouraged by our challenging circumstances. Yet, the Lord can transform the period in the valley to an encounter with Himself. When Ezekiel was brought into the valley by the Spirit of the Lord, it was a valley, filled by desolate things. Ezekiel prophesied as he was commanded and though he was still in the valley, things began to change in the valley. The entirety of the transformation took place in the valley.
“Son of man, can these bones live?”
“Sovereign Lord, you alone know”
Ezekiel what is your interpretation of the reality in this valley? God was asking Ezekiel.
Ezekiel wisely answered God, You alone know! I am limited in what I can see and by implication what I know. I recognise that what you know exceeds what I could possibly know. And I know enough, to realise that what you know, is the true reality of things regardless of what I see. Therefore, I submit the recognition of my reality to the truth of your infinite knowledge. Oh, Sovereign Lord, I need your perspective!
God, undoubtedly pleased with prophet Ezekiel’s wise response gave him an answer that changed the reality in the valley before Ezekiel.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. Ezekiel 37:4-7 NIV
His borrowed perspective from the Lord began to change the situation in the valley. First there was a noise, a rattling and bones coming together, bone to its bone.
A noise, a movement, a connection! The foundation to the miracle that was to occur was laid.
God does miracles in the valleys.
Sometimes, in His wisdom, He allows you to participate in the process of that miracle like Ezekiel in the valley of the dry bones by aligning your speech with what you hear Him say. At other times, all you see is the evidence that the miracle has taken place.
“For this is what the Lord says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink.” 2 Kings 3:17
In 2 Kings 3, the king of Israel had teamed up with the kings of Judah and Edom to go and fight with the king of Moab, who had rebelled against the king of Israel. In their search for the Moabite king, they made a journey going around in circles for seven days and there was no water for their armies or animals. Very dry throats and rising panic as you can expect.
So, in a bid of frustration at their predicament, the kings went in search of Elijah, the prophet of the Lord, for a word to bring them out of the trouble they were in; they were no closer to finding the king of Moab and their armies including animals were out of water. After an initial telling off, Elisha finally gave them a word, as recorded in 2 Kings 3:17. The kings would not see the process or partake of the process, yet the results will be evident!
In the Old Testament, the hand of the Lord being on someone was synonymous with the presence of the Lord. The fact that you are in a valley of sorts does not prevent the Lord from being with you. In fact, it was the Lord who led Ezekiel into that valley. Meaning, God was aware of his circumstances. Joseph was in prison in Egypt, but the Lord was with him. It doesn’t get any more valley in nature if you are held prisoner by anything.
Out of valley experiences God bring great and glorious things. Joseph, though a prisoner himself, because of the Lord’s presence, was put in charge of all the prisoners. Their wellbeing and care were delegated to him by the Chief Jailer. That singular act led to a series of events which caused Joseph, the unfairly treated brother and servant in a foreign land to be made the second highest ruler in the whole of Egypt.
No one is insulated from trouble in our fallen world, as we all walk through valleys. However, for a child of God, we have abiding promises that God will never leave or abandon us. That covers our valley situations too.
Song of Solomon 2 verse 1 states “ I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.” Many Bible scholars agree that those words refer to Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Lily of the valleys. A Lily of the valley flower is a sweet and fragrant flower with a strong scent. White and beautiful. It represents purity. It grows in woodland and can be found in fields. They can even grow among thorns. According to ancient text, it has many medicinal qualities. It could be used to restore a lost voice, help with faintness. It’s good for the liver and helps dropsy. A Lily is very fruitful, one bulb may put forth 50 bulbs.
Jesus is called the Lily of the valleys. That means that He is suitable for all valley situations. All the qualities seen in a Lily; beauty, purity, healing nature, sweet fragrance, fruitfulness, all this can be said of Jesus. With him in your valley, he can turn the smell of death into the scent of life, give beauty for ashes, turn lack into fruitfulness and so much more.
With Jesus in the valley, you are never alone in the valley. Whenever you find yourself in a valley, Jesus is with you. Among the many names that Christ is known by, that He would want us to identify him as Lily of the valleys means that he wants us to know he is with us in every season of the soul.
The festivities around Christmas may mean valley seasons, no matter the reason, are especially hard to bear. If that’s where you or someone you know are , let me finish by encouraging you with this piece, an excerpt from the DNA (desired not abandoned) journal…
Without low places.
Without low places there would be no mountains.
Low places similar to valleys, perhaps,
though precursor to mountain top experiences,
can evoke painful feelings.
If that’s where you are today,
I pray that your pain will not be wasted.
I pray your tears will not be in vain.
I pray that springs will open in these valleys for you.
I pray that they will become places of refreshing and
you will go stronger and stronger
till you appear before the Lord in Zion.
All these, I ask in Jesus’ name.
Thank you for reading