I was asked about my take on the "bones" in Ezekiel's prophecy. My thoughts follow:
Scenario: The Hebrew people had been one nation under King David. They were the strongest at that time as they had ever been. David's kingdom had stretched from the sea to the Euphrates and from Arabia to Turkey. It was the entirety of "The Promised Land" because of the Abrahamic Covenant. After David, the kingdom was split into Israel, the northern kingdom and Judah the lower.
The kingdom of Assyria defeated Israel and carried them off into captivity. Ten tribes of Israel were lost to history in the dispersion. In effect Israel died and the bones of that kingdom were scattered. Later the southern kingdom of Judah was threatened by the Babylonians and as Jeremiah prophesied, the Hebrews there were captured and taken to Babylon. Few remained in "The Promised Land". Their bones were scattered in a distant land. For practical purposes the kingdom of David died in those days! Ezekiel wrote the following prophecy during the destruction of Jerusalem and the southern kingdom by the Babylonians:
Ezekiel 37 "The hand of the Lord was upon me Ezekiel), 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 (God) 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. 15 The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying, 16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and for all the house of Israel his companions: 17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. 18 And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? 19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. 20 And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. 21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: 22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. 23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. 24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. 25 And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. 26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.Hence, we have the Ten Lost Tribes. Most of those tribes lost to posterity were of the line of Joseph and were of the northern Kingdom. Scripture tells us that they assimilated into the society of their captors and took foreign gods. In effect the lost tribes intermarried and became gentiles! For all practical purposes "gentiles" are non-Jewish people who were pagans. Hence, those tribes died at that time and until this day have never been found! (Mormons for instance claim that they are of those tribes, but that's not factual nor probable).
Some believe that this prophecy was two-fold: about the reunification of the Hebrew people after the return to Zion (Jerusalem) by Cyrus the Great, a Persian king in 538 B.C. However, the ten lost tribes stayed lost. Their bones were never restored to life!
Another thought, in post "Matthew Henry times", was the founding of Israel under one leader in 1948. Again, Jews dispersed from all over the world returned to Zion and the nation was restored to life. It's probably likely that some of the Jews who returned were from lost tribes, but we don't know that or if so, whom. I really don't believe that the prophecy was about the reformation of the nationof Israel. King David has no part in either of the two scenarios.
Where does it all fit? I believe that Ezekiel saw a vision of the kingdom of God restored by a King of the line of David. This King is Jesus! This vision is about the reconciliation of both tribes of Jews: the lost tribes representing the gentile nation and the Hebrews themselves. Jesus the King is king of all! The bones of all twelve tribes will be reassembled and those bones will live and breath! The two sticks (two nations), the Jews and gentiles will become one under the returning King, Jesus.
Matthew 28:18 "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth."
Revelation 17:14 "These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful..."And as for Jesus being of the line of David:
Luke 2:4 "And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)"
Matthew 1:1 "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham."The King on the order of David will have great power! He will have the power to bring life to dead bones:
John 11:25 "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:"Jesus demonstrated his power over death! As he died and yet lives, here he promises those who follow the King will live though they were dead! That's our hope! Our flesh will die and our bones scattered, even becoming dust, but at the resurrection our bones will come together, our sinews reattach, our flesh be restored and we shall live again. The our souls shall be united with our bodies and the winds will reunite our soul with our spirit! This is what grace is all about!
John 6:40 "And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
Ezekiel apparently had a vision of "the last day" and the "general resurrection" where EVERYONE who believes in the King will be raised up! Everyone includes the two sticks becoming one. Jew and gentile are united under the kingship of Jesus Christ of the line of David!
Bones arise from the dust and life is restored to them. Daniel too had this vision:
Daniel 12:2 "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."Like Ezekiel, he saw life come out of the dust. Life that had once lived yet died a mortal death. Daniel saw the resurrection too. There is a caveat! According to Ezekiel "they will be my (God's) people". Those who reject God are not his people! Their punishment, according to Daniel is "shame and everlasting contempt"! All the bones of the dead will be alive, and the soul's of all restored. However, some will have eternal life and others will return to the "spiritual grave". Hell awaits the bones of those who refuse to submit to the King!"
Bones support us all! We take them for granted, but they are the foundation on which the flesh is hung. Admit it or not, everyone cares about the flesh! Some live for pleasure and the flesh is the medium for that. Others live in faith and care about where their flesh resides for eternity. It's all a matter of priorities! Do we substitute carnal desires in exchange for eternal life or do we value pleasure here over eternal solace? The Christian places his hope in eternal joy. Those in rebellion cherish what the devil uses to deceive: carnal pleasure.
Don't take your bones for granted. Care that they shall walk and live again! Care that they support the flesh and carry the lungs which breath and the soul wherein the Spirit may dwell. However, the wise will care about the eternal home of those restored bones! Show that you care: have faith in that long ago prophecy. Have faith in a king likened unto David. Have faith in Jesus!