828 King's Highway, Suffolk VA 23432

757 255-4168 stjohns1755@verizon.net Worship Service: Sundays at 10:30am
Welcome to St. John's community. We are honored to serve Christ, and to open our doors to all. Please feel free to join us for worship. St. John's can trace its history to the founding of Jamestown. The parish is over 350 years old, and the church building itself has stood for 2 and a half centuries. St. John's saw the American Revolution and served as a camp ground for troops during the Civil War. Through it all, St. John's has been a place of worship and a home for those seeking communion with Christ. St. John's has a rich and abiding history. Today, it is as it was... a place to find and be found by Christ.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Christian Formation for Sunday May 27 - The Valley of the Dry Bones: Ezekiel 37:1-14

May 27, 2012, Day of Pentecost
Ezekiel 37:1-14
The Valley of Dry Bones
Background: The prophet Ezekiel is relatively unique in Old Testament literature because many of his oracles are assigned relatively precise dates. The concrete dating of the oracles suggests an understanding of the historical context is necessary for understanding Ezekiel’s prophecies. The timeframe for this book is most certainly 593-571 B.C. with the majority of the oracles falling between 593 and 585 B.C. Ezekiel is a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah and this book must be seen against the background provided by Jeremiah.

Theme: This passage is found in a subsection of Ezekiel title “Oracles of Hope and Restoration.” It is likely these oracles were formulated after the Exile to Babylon. Further, this passage prophesies the restoration of Israel to its former status as the chosen people of God.

Questions to Ponder

* Please skim Ezekiel 1:1-3:15 paying attention to the setting and differences between that passage and this one.

* Briefly describe the political, religious, and social situation in Israel.

* Briefly describe what you know about Ezekiel, his tribe, his occupation, etc.

* Where do you think Ezekiel was when he provided this oracle? To whom do you think this oracle was given?

* What do you think is meant by Ezekiel being “transported by the spirit” to the valley with dry bones? Do you think he was physically transported or simply provided a vision of the valley? Do you think this is the same valley described in Ezek 1:1-3:15? Why or why not?

* What is striking about the bones?

* What do you think the “wind” is in this passage? Do you think that Ezekiel could command the wind? What is the imagery of the wind here reminiscent of in other passages in scripture?

* Do you think God was asking the prophet a trick question when God asked “can these bones live?” Do you think Ezekiel thought the question may be more rhetorical than literal? Why or why not?

* What do you think is the purpose of God’s reaction to Ezekiel’s response “O Lord God, you know.”?

* Why do you think God told Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones?

* How is the end of God’s command to Ezekiel “…and you shall know that I am the Lord” reminiscent of previous interactions between God and humanity?

* How does God’s reaction to Ezekiel impact us today?

* Why do you think it was important to have Ezekiel pronounce both God’s judgment that led to the exile and now the assurance of restoration?

* Do you think the image described is a real image or simply an allegory?

* Why might God have given an oracle describing the nation of Israel as the valley of dry bones? What might the reanimation of the bones describe to the Israelites?

* Do you think this passage describes the resurrection of the dead? Why or why not?

* What are the words of hope to the Israelites provided by the oracle? What are our words of hope in this passage?

* What are the implications of this passage for our ministry?

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