The LORD took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the LORD to a valley filled with bones.
He led me around among the old, dry bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground.
Then he asked me, "Son of man, can these bones become living people again?" "O Sovereign LORD," I replied, "you alone know the answer to that."
Then he said to me, "Speak to these bones and say, 'Dry bones, listen to the word of the LORD!
This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Look! I am going to breathe into you and make you live again!
I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'"
So I spoke these words, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as they had been before.
Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.
Then he said to me, "Speak to the winds and say: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so that they may live again.'"
So I spoke as he commanded me, and the wind entered the bodies, and they began to breathe. They all came to life and stood up on their feet -- a great army of them.
Then he said to me, "Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, 'We have become old, dry bones -- all hope is gone.'
Now give them this message from the Sovereign LORD: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel.
When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the LORD.
I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I am the LORD. You will see that I have done everything just as I promised. I, the LORD, have spoken!"
Again a message came to me from the LORD:
"Son of man, take a stick and carve on it these words: 'This stick represents Judah and its allied tribes.' Then take another stick and carve these words on it: 'This stick represents the northern tribes of Israel.' a17
Now hold them together in your hand as one stick.
When your people ask you what your actions mean,
say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the northern tribes and join them to Judah. I will make them one stick in my hand.'
Then hold out the sticks you have inscribed, so the people can see them.
And give them this message from the Sovereign LORD: I will gather the people of Israel from among the nations. I will bring them home to their own land from the places where they have been scattered.
I will unify them into one nation in the land. One king will rule them all; no longer will they be divided into two nations.
They will stop polluting themselves with their detestable idols and other sins, for I will save them from their sinful backsliding. I will cleanse them. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God.
"My servant David will be their king, and they will have only one shepherd. They will obey my regulations and keep my laws.
They will live in the land of Israel where their ancestors lived, the land I gave my servant Jacob. They and their children and their grandchildren after them will live there forever, generation after generation. And my servant David will be their prince forever.
And I will make a covenant of peace with them, an everlasting covenant. I will give them their land and multiply them, and I will put my Temple among them forever.
I will make my home among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
And since my Temple will remain among them forever, the nations will know that I, the LORD, have set Israel apart for myself to be holy."
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)