Glory in the Graveyard
by Dennis Michelson
(Painesville, Ohio USA)
Introduction: In this primarily prophetic passage we see ten principles for a genuine work of God. One might call them a blueprint for genuine revival. There is a sign in Alaska which states, "Choose your rut carefully because you will be in it for the next 200 miles!"
Revival is the God-ordained way to get out of a rut. Many substitutes for genuine revival are employment today with their attendant promotions, plans and persuasions. The following ten words suggest how God brings about revival. There appears to be a whole lot of "rattle" today but very little "revival."
1. The POWER of God (37:1a)
The prophet says "the hand of the Lord was upon me." This is where revival starts. If a man does not have the hand of the Lord upon him then he may conjure something up but God will not be sending anything down. There is no substitute.
2. The PLACE of God (37:1b)
The place is called a "valley." Have you ever wondered why God put you in such a hard place? What happened to "is there anything too hard for God?" God set the prophet "down in the midst of a valley." Sounds like a good place in need of a supernatural work of God.
3. The PREDICAMENT of the people (37:2)
He says here "very many" and "very dry." Does this sound like your congregation. Are they more like an audience than an army? An old preacher friend of mine used to say that one of the greatest challenges he faced as a pastor was getting his members saved. Never forget that many who are "on the roll down here" may not be "on the roll up yonder."
4. The PROPOSITION of God (37:3)
When God asks a question it is never to find out the answer. He asks questions for our benefit - not His. The question is "can these bones live?" The prophet humbly answered "O Lord God, thou knowest." Forget the argument over Calvinism and Arminianism. You do the preaching and let God do the picking. Your job is faithfulness; not results.
5. The PREACHING of the Word (37:4)
You want to see something that looks really foolish. God tells the prophet to "Prophesy" over a stinking heap of dry bones. Welcome to the Foolishness of Preaching 101. You will not find many "seekers" in this crowd. They are all dead - and only one thing will be used of God to stir them. It is not promotion, persuasion, popularity, purposeful living or positive thinking. Preach brother, preach!
6. The PROMISE of God (37:5)
"Ye shall live." Now we are getting a real revival on our hands.
7. The PERSON for revival (37:6)
"I am the Lord." How about that? You will not even need to spend money on an airline ticket or motel room. How radical is that? A revival meeting where the Lord takes over and you do not have to schedule Him years in advance.
8. The PROFESSORS of revival (37:7-8)
They have "noise", "shaking", "bones", "sinews", "flesh" and "skin." When will we learn from the parable of the sower that everyone who walks down the aisle may not walk down the streets of gold. They look like the real deal but they lack one thing - "there was no breath in them."
9. The POSSESSORS of revival (37:9)
"Breathe upon these slain that they may live." It doesn't matter how high you jump on Sunday if you are not still alive and kicking on Monday. Justification is instantaneous but sanctification is a process. Do not confuse the two doctrines and never divorce the two doctrines.
When God breathes life into a spiritual corpse then you can check for "vital signs" and find they are still breathing. Those who cannot produce evidence of life start hunting for their birth certificate to try and convince themselves (and others) that they are really alive.
10. The PRODUCT of revival (37:10)
" . . .they lived and stood up upon their feet an exceeding great army." Revival produces an army and not merely an audience. The former goes looking for the battle ground while the latter are content with a playground. "Lord send the old-time power . . .may sinners be converted and thy name glorified."
Conclusion: Several years ago I took a group of preachers to Ukraine and Moldova. One well-meaning brother asked the young pastor of the vibrant and growing church "when do you schedule your revival meetings?"
The respectful young pastor looked perplexed and asked the good fundamental American brother, "what is a revival meeting?" The American pastor said, "Oh that's when a lot of people get saved and saved people get right with God."
The young Moldovan pastor humbly replied, "that happens here every day," Let us never be content with revival meetings without revival.