There was a man who was troubled with dizzy spells. He went from one doctor to another and none could tell him what the problem was. He tried everything, it seemed. Finally, it was bothering him so much he started to lose weight and couldn’t sleep at night. He became a nervous wreck and his health began to deteriorate. He had lost hope that he would ever recover. So he decided to prepare for the worst. He made out his will, bought a cemetery plot and even made arrangements with the local undertaker. He even decided to buy a new suit of clothes to be buried in. When he went into the tailor’s he was measured for everything and picked out shoes, socks, coat, pants — and he asked for a size 15 shirt as well. The clerk said — “But sir, you need a size 16 1/2 shirt, not 15.” But the man insisted we wore a size 15. Finally, in exasperation the clerk said: “But if you wear a size 15 you’ll get dizzy spells.”
Many people hope to be elected to heaven who are not even running for the office. The world sometimes takes our hope away! It doesn’t have too. But we let it take away our hope. From my office window it was easy for me to watch the congregation arriving this morning to church. Almost all came by car, a few walked up the sidewalk. Everyone dressed as nice as they could be taking special precautions not to bump against the car or let the wind blow our bonnets away. None of the rushing and running that we find at the first Easter in the New Testament! Mary Magdalene came and seeing the stone rolled away started running. On her run back to Jerusalem she meets Peter and he breaks into a run to the empty tomb. There was a lot of running and rushing with excitement!
Death always brings a lot of excitement, and so does life! In November of 1995 lotus seeds were found in a dry lake bed in China. They were 1,288 years old! Seven of them were obtained by the University of California at Los Angeles. The seeds were germinated, sprouted, and a plant grew from them. They are thought to be the oldest seeds ever germinated. If a seed can hold life for 1,288 years, who can doubt the possibility of a bodily resurrection?
That sounds almost scriptural doesn’t it? I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
Ezekiel was the son of a priest named Buzi, and one of the four greater prophets. Ezekiel was taken captive in the captivity of Jehoiachin, eleven years before the destruction of Jerusalem. He was a member of a community of Jewish exiles who settled on the banks of the Chebar, a “river” or canal of Babylonia. It was by this river, “in the land of the Chaldeans,” that God’s message first reached him (Ezek. 1:3). We learn from him that he was married and had a house in his place of exile and lost his wife by a sudden and unforeseen stroke. His mission extended over twenty-two years.
We are nearing the end of Ezekiel’s life and God’s people are still in Babylonia in exile. Life has not been easy for the Jewish people, nor has it been for Ezekiel. God doesn’t want Ezekiel to lose hope.
This past week as I stood at my wife’s grave watching the breeze blow the green Kentucky Bluegrass. There wasn’t sadness or sorrow but only the words of the angel in the empty tomb, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!”
He set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” Jesus said, I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! There was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.” I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land.
What is the lesson that God has for us? No matter how bad it gets, it’s always better on the other side of worse. God never leads you to a place where he will not provide a way out. No matter what the devil hurls at us, God will never let the devil put more on us than what we are able to stand.
For the Christian, the future is always brighter! Paul said, For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. You can’t lose! That is the real story of every Christian. The issue isn’t whether God can bring someone back from the dead. The reality isn’t even whether we believe in our own resurrection. For all of these have and will continue to happen. The issue is, DO YOU BELIEVE?