From pulpits to bible studies, radio sermons to Sunday school classes, throughout the ages much has been said of the wisdom of King Solomon. Solomon is studied and admired as the wisest among all men, with the exception of Jesus Christ, Who speaking of Himself proclaimed:
"A greater than Solomon is here." (Matthew 12:42 & Luke 11:31 KJV)
The name Solomon is synonymous with wisdom, so much so that even Jesus referenced him. Yet, have you considered the prophet Ezekiel as someone worthy of induction into wisdom's hall of fame?
In the Book of Ezekiel, the prophet records an amazing experience he has, where the Spirit of the Lord transports him to a valley and sets him there in the midst of dry bones. These bones were loose and scattered and determined to be "very dry".
As Ezekiel sits there surveying the magnitude of death surrounding him, God asks an unusual question:
"Son of man, can these bones live?" (Ezekiel 37:3a KJV)
As a first-time reader of the Book of Ezekiel, in my youth, I recall being fascinated with this chapter and with that particular question. How would I answer a question like that? It would be intimidating, challenging, perhaps impossible to answer correctly. Regardless, God asked the question, and I would suppose He is expecting an answer that is fully honest and at least half intelligent.
In my wavering mind and limited wisdom, I would imagine there would be one of two answers or points of view. Each could be logical. Either would be extreme. Both could be right. Both could be wrong.
One response could be thus:
"Of course these bones can live. I am sitting here, transported by the very hand of God, communicating with the Creator of heaven and earth and all things great and small. You are God. You reign supreme. You are wonderfully majestic. You can do all things. You can make these bones live. Absolutely! The answer is yes!"
This would certainly be an impressive God-focused reply; wouldn't it?
On the other hand, Ezekiel could have observed and absorbed the full spectrum. These were not fresh corpses in need of a defibrilator and a few blasts of oxygen.
There were no bodies, no lungs, no vital organs of any kind. There was no weak pulse, no blood flow. There were no arteries, veins or capillaries for blood to pass through. No brain matter. No flesh. No soft tissue, whatsoever. They were lifeless skeletal remains; bones and only bones.
A reasonable valley-focused reply could have been:
"No way! These bones can't live. They are decaying. They have greatly transitioned from clinical to biological death long ago. Forget dialing 911. Don't bother to call for help. There is nothing here for the best of paramedics to work with. No, God, these bones will never see life again."
What a dilemma. Was it a trick question? Why should anyone have to face such a challenging inquiry? Ezekiel should be shaking in the dust, his face glistened with nervous perspiration.
There should be a quiet pause. Cue the chirping cricket. Go to commercial break. Buy some time to think about it. Check your flyer miles, Ezekiel. How many points did you earn on this trip anyhow?
The astounding thing and the truth of the matter is this: there was no hesitation. Ezekiel didn't clear his throat, scratch his chin or fidget with his shoelaces. He didn't stare at the sky. He didn't draw in the dirt. He didn't stammer or stutter.
There were no pauses, verbal or otherwise. His response was so quick that it didn't even go on to the next verse or a new paragraph.
In modernizing his reply, the New King James Version records Ezekiel's answer as this:
"O Lord God, You know." (3b)
Some might say it was a cop-out or a 'politician's answer'. Some may think he took the middle road, the path of least resistance. But, I see it as an incredibly wise response.
He used very few words, and he quickly acknowledged that God knows all. How great it would serve us to do the same!
When we are presented with questions, may we barrow from Ezekiel's wisdom. When we grapple for answers, may our words be few. And, when we are seated in a valley of hopelessness and death, may we be quick to remember that God has all the answers!
(This article was published in Pathway Christian Newspaper August 2011)
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