God grabbed me. God's Spirit took me up and sat me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones.
He led me around and among them - a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain - dry bones, bleached by the sun.
He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" I said, "Master God, only you know that."
He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones: 'Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!'"
God, the Master, told the dry bones, "Watch this: I'm bringing the breath of life to you and you'll come to life.
I'll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You'll come alive and you'll realize that I am God!"
I prophesied just as I'd been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound and, oh, rustling! The bones moved and came together, bone to bone.
I kept watching. Sinews formed, then muscles on the bones, then skin stretched over them. But they had no breath in them.
He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, 'God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!'"
So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army.
Then God said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Listen to what they're saying: 'Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, there's nothing left of us.'
"Therefore, prophesy. Tell them, 'God, the Master, says: I'll dig up your graves and bring you out alive - O my people! Then I'll take you straight to the land of Israel.
When I dig up graves and bring you out as my people, you'll realize that I am God.
I'll breathe my life into you and you'll live. Then I'll lead you straight back to your land and you'll realize that I am God. I've said it and I'll do it. God's Decree.'"
God's Message came to me:
"You, son of man: Take a stick and write on it, 'For Judah, with his Israelite companions.' Then take another stick and write on it, 'For Joseph - Ephraim's stick, together with all his Israelite companions.'
Then tie the two sticks together so that you're holding one stick.
"When your people ask you, 'Are you going to tell us what you're doing?'
tell them, 'God, the Master, says, Watch me! I'll take the Joseph stick that is in Ephraim's hand, with the tribes of Israel connected with him, and lay the Judah stick on it. I'll make them into one stick. I'm holding one stick.'
"Then take the sticks you've inscribed and hold them up so the people can see them.
Tell them, 'God, the Master, says, Watch me! I'm taking the Israelites out of the nations in which they've been exiled. I'll gather them in from all directions and bring them back home.
I'll make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and give them one king - one king over all of them. Never again will they be divided into two nations, two kingdoms.
Never again will they pollute their lives with their no-god idols and all those vile obscenities and rebellions. I'll save them out of all their old sinful haunts. I'll clean them up. They'll be my people! I'll be their God!
My servant David will be king over them. They'll all be under one shepherd.
They'll live in the same land I gave my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their grandchildren will live there forever, and my servant David will be their prince forever.
I'll make a covenant of peace with them that will hold everything together, an everlasting covenant. I'll make them secure and place my holy place of worship at the center of their lives forever.
I'll live right there with them. I'll be their God! They'll be my people!
"'The nations will realize that I, God, make Israel holy when my holy place of worship is established at the center of their lives forever.'"
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)