“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” (Ezekiel 37:7).
by André Couceiro
Jehovah God, the Great Communicator, says: “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). In harmony with this, God has used various means to let His will be known among mankind. He has employed angels, prophets, dreams, the written word — by inspiring men to write His words. On one occasion He wrote with His own “finger” on the tablets that Moses received at Mount Sinai (Exodus 31:18).
In our day, God does not communicate with us supernaturally, but we have His thoughts recorded in the Scriptures. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Powerful Means of Communication
One of the most impressive ways that Jehovah used to communicate His will was by means of visions. Unlike dreams, which are made of mental images occurring during sleep, a vision (Strong’s H4236, Machazeh, G3705,
Horama) happens while awake, and therefore, feels real to the person.
In this issue of The Herald we are considering “The Vision of the Dry Bones” given by God to Ezekiel. “The hand of Jehovah was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of Jehovah, and set me down in the midst of the
valley; and it was full of bones. And he caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry” (Ezekiel 37:1-2 ASV).
Visualize that scene for a moment. Before us is a huge valley, filled with bones in every direction. A mighty people or a great army must have died, and their bones lie bleaching in the sun. What feelings would that bring to your heart? Because I grew up in the countryside of Brazil, once I went to a farm where there were several full-body cow skeletons that had died because of a drought. I was a child back then. It was not a good thing to see. It evoked feelings of fear, loss, and despair in me. Now imagine what you would feel if you saw a valley full of dry human bones exposed to the weather! “And … they were very dry” (Ezekiel 37:2).
That is exactly what Ezekiel saw. Then God asks: “Son of man, can these bones live?” (verse 3). Ezekiel learned that the answer is yes, and that he should prophecy about it! “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” (verse 7).
The Meaning of the Vision
It is agreed among many Bible expositors (i.e. John Darby, John Gill, etc.), that the vision of the “Valley of the Dry Bones” refers to the restoration of Israel, either after the captivity or in the future. Some believe that it refers
to the resurrection of the dead, while others see that there is a double prophetic application.
In 1910 Brother Russell was asked: “Does the vision of dry bones of Ezekiel 37 refer to the resurrection of the dead, or what?” He replied: “To our understanding, this vision of dry bones does not refer to the resurrection of the dead in the ordinary sense of that word, but that it does refer to the resurrection of the dead Jewish nation, who say, mark you, ‘Our hopes are dried.’ Their hopes are all dead, and this awakening, this coming together of bone to bone, represents the gradual way in which the Jewish hopes will
come together and gradually reanimate them as a people” (Question Book, page 584). In fact, even back then, Brother Russell saw this as something already in progress.
The Photo Drama of Creation, on page 53, says: “The fulfillment of this prediction seems to be in progress now amongst the Jewish people.
Only a short time ago they had no hope; then came Zionism, the dry bones of hope for amelioration from suffering, but without any faith in the Abrahamic promise. Later, we see the Jews growing in trust in the Abrahamic promise and coming together with strength, wealth, and faith. The time is evidently not far distant when their national hope will be rehabilitated and they shall rejoice again as a people.”
Restoration is a Process
The wording of the prophecy clearly indicates a gradual restoration of the Nation of Israel: after the noise and the commotion, the bones come together, then the sinews and the flesh come up upon them, and everything
is covered by skin. At this point, they are not “alive,” not until God breathes into them. Accordingly, although we now see Israel restored as a nation since 1948, they still have to accept Jesus as their Messiah to fully receive the kingdom blessings in store for them. But looking back, there was a time, not so long ago, when the Jews were scattered all over the world, trodden down by the nations and without a land, a country, of their own. In Jehovah’s due time, however, the restoration process started.
Zionism and the Bones Coming Together
The importance of the Zionist cannot be overstated. It was the main political force behind the creation of the State of Israel. Conceived and promoted by the Austro-Hungarian journalist and writer Theodor Herzl, this political movement defended the right of the Jews to have their homeland in the region that the Bible calls the “Land of Israel” or the “Promised Land” (Ha’Aretz HaMuvtahat, Genesis 15:13-21, 17:8, Ezekiel 47:13-20).
According to Herzl (who witnessed antiSemitism in Europe), Jews would be strong again with the existence of a state of their own. The concept of an independent Jewish State was a “revolutionary” idea for a people who had suffered violent persecution for centuries. Today, Theodore Herzl is considered to be the “George Washington” of the Nation of Israel.
It was at the first Zionist congress, held in Basel, Switzerland, from August 29 to August 31, 1897, where the Zionists first agreed that the Jews should return in mass to the “Holy Land” in Jerusalem, from whence they were expelled by the Romans in the 3rd century AD, and the only place they would feel at home.
Indeed, like “bones coming together,” Jews from all over the world were encouraged to migrate to the Palestinian region at a time when the tiny area of land was part of the Ottoman Empire and where 500,000 Arabs lived. The migration of Jews to Israel culminated in the declaration of independence in 1948 and the creation of the State of Israel.
Before Herzl, There Was Pastor Russell
However, Herzl was not the first person to promote the return of the Jews to their land. In an interesting article at the site Haaretz (www. haaretz.com), Philippe Bohstrom points out that “years before Theodor Herzl proposed creating a Jewish state, Charles Taze Russell … urged Jews to find a national home in Eretz Israel.” Indeed, in Zion’s Watch Tower magazine of November 1, 1892 (R1465), Russell says: “There are now in the world more than ten million Jews, about three-quarters of whom are in Russia, Poland, the Balkan States, and Turkey. If the movement toward Palestine should get the impulse that the Hirsch committee is able to give it, an imaginative person can conceive of the country’s doubling or trebling
its Jewish population before the close of our century.”
On August 18, 1891, Russell wrote a letter to Hirsch and to Rothschild (Barons and philanthropists of the time), both of whom he considered “the two leading Hebrews of the world.” In his letter, Russell suggests a practical plan for Zionism which involved purchasing all government-owned land in Palestine (land not held by private owners), from the impoverished Ottoman Empire. A copy of the letter was published in the Zion’s Watch Tower magazine of December 1891 (R1342). Unfortunately, Hirsch regarded the creation of a Jewish state as a fantasy. Years later, Herzl made similar proposals and was successful.
Paying Close Attention to the Fulfillment of Prophecy
Regarding His prophecies, Jehovah says: “My word that proceeds from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please, and it will prosper where I send it” (Isaiah 55:11, Berean Study Bible). Thousands of years ago, Jehovah gave Ezekiel many prophecies that focused on the restoration of Israel, such as the prophetic vision of the dry
bones “coming together.” We now live in a time when light is shining more and more unto the perfect day (Proverbs 4:18). The dry bones, as the light allows us to see, are no longer scattered all over the wide “valley” of the nations. The bones of Ezekiel’s prophecy have been regathered to their rightful place!