The Congregation of the Dead

Ez 37: 1-14 “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, 2 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. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. 4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 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. 7 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. 8 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. 9 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. 10 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. 11 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. 12 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. 13 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, 14 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.”

800 years after Moses wandered the desert with the people of Israel. Ezekiel was given a vision of a valley of dead bones. There were mass fatalities as Israel was judged and over the course of 300 years, all that remained was bones. 

Ezekiel was commanded to preach to the dead and bone took on muscle and skin and breath. There was a reversal of death. Death is a result of sin. God came to reverse that. Can these bones live? 

Can the bones, congregated in the valley of dryness live again?

It was the word that brought bone upon bone and the word that caused skin, but it was the Spirit that gave breath and life. 

What a question, what a word picture to see dead bodies piled up. It was a spiritual vision. Disobedience is the cause of death. 

The interpretation is about the house of Israel, but it’s possible that it’s a prophecy about the coming Messiah. At the time of this vision, the people of Israel were in bondage and their spirits were dry and displaced. They had been removed from the Lord as judgment.

Adam in the Garden of Eden was given one job, take care of the garden and don’t eat from this tree. His disobedience led to death. Eve was tricked and both ate. The devil said they wouldn’t die. Yet, when God asked Adam a question, he was still standing. So, was the devil right and God wrong? No! Adam was spiritually dead and the process of death had begun. Disobedience caused distance from God and death. 

You have a choice, life or death. The path of obedience leads to life. The path of disobedience leads to death. 

Prov 21:16 “The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.”

Israel was captured because of their disobedience. They always had other gods they wanted to serve. The land had protection because of their obedience. If they disobeyed, God’s protection would be lifted. Idolatry caused the loss of God’s protection. Idolatry will lead you into the congregation of the dead.

Separation from God over time will cause dryness. This is discouragement and loss of hope. Becoming distant from God causes dryness and hopelessness and death. 

Israel was there. They called themselves the people of God, but they were dead men walking. 

A woman had a dream of going to a party. Several people were there, skeletons drinking alcohol and people that were normal. She could see this, but no one else could. On the way out, she saw herself in the mirror and saw that she was a skeleton too, a dead one walking. Then, the Lord woke her up. 

If you’re feeling distant from God, wandering away from the Lord and the things of God, though it may seem right, at the end of that path is the congregation of the dead. 

God told Ezekiel that He would reverse the death.

If you don’t have life in your body, eventually it will decompose. Right now, there is something that is keeping back the decomposition. When life leaves, it doesn’t take long for the stink to happen. 

There are two congregations, The Life Church and the Congregation of the Dead.

Prov 2:18 “For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.”

Eph 2:1 “And his fullness fills you, even though you were once like corpses, dead in your sins and offenses.”

Jesus said many things that were hard. 

John 6:63 “The Holy Spirit is the one who gives life, that which is of the natural realm is of no help. The words I speak to you are Spirit and life. But there are still some of you who won’t believe.”

Eph 2:5 “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”

The attack of the devil starts with ‘you don’t need to listen to that pastor, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about,’ separation, disconnection. There’s a story of a lion who wants to eat some bulls, but they were so unified, he couldn’t get at them. So, he separated them through whispering lies. Then, he ate lunch. The lion led each one to the Congregation of the Dead. 

Separation starts with discontentment, complaining, and believing lies. 

Jesus didn’t call death no breath. He said Lazarus was sleeping. Eternal death is the kind of death He talked about and came to rescue us from. 

Ancient Rome tortured people by chaining a dead body to a person. This is like sin in your life. You’ve got to bury that sin in baptism in Jesus’ name. 

God is able to reverse the curse of the Congregation of the Dead. The dead can come alive. Just when you think there’s no hope, Jesus says, ‘There’s hope.’ 

When the devil has you in checkmate, the King says, there’s another move! 

You’ve been distanced, separated, wandering a path that leads to death, and you may not even realize it. 

Rom 8:6 “For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set controlled by the Spirit finds life and peace.”

John 20:22 “And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:”

This is the same ‘breath’ that God breathed into Adam that first time. 

God gave Ezekiel a two-part strategy: Word and Spirit

Ezekiel 37:4 “Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.”

Hear the Word of the Lord.

Ezekiel 37:5 “Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:”

‘I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live.’ 

God will cause you to walk in Life. God is personal and internal. 

Old Testament is outside pressure, laws and rules, to do right. New Testament is God is on the inside. Life gets inside you. 

Ez 36:27 “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”

God causes a change of desires that leads to life. 

You’ve got to have Word and Spirit. 

That which has no hope will have hope, that which has no life will have life. The distance is removed and life comes back when you’ve got His Spirit. 

God is calling to dry bones. The reason why you don’t feel anything is you’re displaced. You’re not in the right place. If you feel like God doesn’t care, if you feel alone, you’re in the wrong place. If you get mad at God and say He doesn’t care, you’re justifying yourself. Repent and come back to Him. He will give you new life, new hope. 

If you have walked down the wrong path, come back. 

2 Tim 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

When the intersection of Word and Spirit come into a body, life comes. You’ve got to have faith. You’ve got to believe that Word and receive that Spirit and you will have Life and Hope again. 

Life and death are before you, choose life!

More Questions for Personal or Group Study:

  1. As you reflect on Sunday’s sermon, what one principle or insight stands out as being particularly helpful, insightful, or difficult to grasp? Why?
  2. If Pastor Anthony had to give an abbreviated version of Sunday’s message, what two points or ideas would you tell him to include no matter what? Why?
  3. Read Acts 2:36-42. These people realized that they had crucified the Messiah. Horrified, they asked, ‘What shall we do?’ They recognized their own spiritual condition as members of the Congregation of the Dead. What did these people do about it? What have you done about your spiritual condition? And how do you continue in Life?
  4. Read Romans 8. How does this chapter help you to govern your thoughts and continue in living your life according to the Life?

Excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Anthony LoCascio. 

For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.

If you are looking for an Apostolic Pentecostal church and are in the Chicagoland area, come check out The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!

www.thelifechurchofglenview.org

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About ChristinaLi

Writing inspirational romantic suspense splashed with humor. Married for over 20 years and mom to five amazing kids, she is happily addicted to morning coffee and afternoon tea. Free for you: Violet Miracle, a Little Bit of Coffee, Flowers, and Romance Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Violet-Miracle-Little-Flowers-Romance-ebook/dp/B008EMBZGY/ref=la_B004EL7842_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1504197523&sr=1-2 Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/529287
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