By Dean Albritton


Sunday School Lesson for October 24

Ezekiel 37


If we are going to use a structure to illustrate our lesson today, we must first look at the meaning of the word pylon.  In Egyptian architecture a pylon was a monumental structure constituting an entrance to a temple or other large edifice.  It consisted of a central gateway, flanked on each side by a truncated (top cut off) pyramidal tower.  For the best illustration of this lesson I would like to use the idea of a suspension bridge -- the bowstring type in particular.  One of the greatest steel-arch bridges in the world spans the beautiful harbor gate of Sydney, Australia.  It rises to the height of 1,650 feet.  The principle of the suspension bridge is simple.  It has three essential parts, the towers or pylons, the anchorages and the cables.  Any suspension bridge has a roadway that is hung from cables strongly anchored over towers without support from below.  The towers or pylons for suspension bridges have been built of wood, of stone and of steel.  Steel towers are the modern development.  The anchorages have the function of securing the ends of the cables.  Weight is therefore a prime requisite.  Anchorages are generally built of masonry or concrete unless natural rock is available.   A suspension bridge, properly designed is the safest type of construction for bridges.  The Brooklyn Bridge is another suspension bridge.  It spans the East River in New York.  It was the first suspension bridge using steel wire for the cables.  It is also artistically satisfying to look at.  It took 21 months to spin the 900 tons of wire cable.  Let’s look at the word cable to understand strength.  The cables are the most important element of a suspension bridge.  They are the load-carrying element.  A cable is made up of many strands of steel or other material that offers the most endurance.  Cable strands are strung over towers from anchorage to anchorage.

          Using the theory of bridge-building, the first unshakable pylon of fact to which our faith is securely attached is The Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:24).  God made a covenant with Abraham.  That Covenant has seven strands that make up one of the strangest cords found anywhere in our Bible.  Are we overlooking the Mosaic Covenant?  Let’s read again what Moses said: Leviticus 26:44,45  - “And yet for all that, though they be in the land of their enemies, will I not cast them away, neither will I loath them, to destroy them utterly, to break my covenant with them; for I am the Eternal their God.  But I will remember for their sakes the COVENANT OF THEIR ANCESTORS WHOM I BROUGHT FORTH OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT before the eyes of the nations.” Amazing fact!  It is Moses himself who assures Israel that Israel can find no hope in the Mosaic Covenant, so sadly broken and vitiated by the nation.

So both Moses and Daniel predicted Israel’s desolation and yet they both predicted Israel’s preservation. Leviticus states “And I will make desolate your sanctuaries, and I will not smell the savor of your sweet odors.” 26:31b

Daniel states, “And after sixty and two sevens will Messiah be cut off and not for himself; and the city and the sanctuary will the people of the prince that is coming destroy.”

          When we read what the seven strands of the Abrahamic Covenant consist of, it is so powerful that we have to catch our breath. 1. “I will make of thee a great nation, 2. and I will bless thee, 3. and make thy name great; 4. and be thou a blessing: 5. and I will bless them that bless thee, 6. and him that curseth thee will I curse; 7. and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”

          Prophecy does promise a sunrise for Israel.  The long dark night of sorrows seems beyond our comprehension.  The Jews have walked through dispersion and gas-chambers to finally reach the Promise Land.

          This brings me to the second pylon.  We will consider Ezekiel’s prophecies as they relate to the restoration of Israel.  On the fifth day of Iyar, 5708 at about 4 o’clock Palestine time, towards the evening of the fourteenth day of May in the year 1948 of the Gregorian calendar, the State of Israel was proclaimed.  After two thousand years of exile and statelessness, the twelve tribes of Israel, now known as “the Jews,” had a national home again!  Two thousand years ago a people were divinely expelled from their land and they began a long, hopeless, stateless trek down the ages of time.  After the Babylonian captivity had ended, the returned exiles, representing all the twelve tribes, resumed the national name “Israel,” which became, and still is, completely synonymous with the term “Jew.”

          Jehoiachin was on the throne only three months when he, Ezekiel and many others of the Southern Israel Kingdom were carried away captive by the Babylonians in the first deportation, about the year 597 before the Common Era, some eleven years before the destruction of Jerusalem by these same Babylonians and when Ezekiel was about twenty-five years of age. He is classed in the highest rank of Israel’s prophets.  His fellow captives were under the delusion that the Babylonian power would soon be broken by rescuing Egyptians;  Ezekiel had to disillusion them on that score and urge the captives to become reconciled to their condition because God really meant what He said and what had been prophesied would be fulfilled.

Ezekiel, the only prophet to serve outside the Holy Land, predicted the fall of Jerusalem and the ultimate restoration of Israel.

          Today, the little re-born nation of Israel is harassed by problems within and surrounded by enemies without.  What is to be its future?

The Prophet’s name, Ezekiel, means “God Strengthens.”  Let us take that name as a garrison of hope as we enter into these vital prophecies.

          The temple was rebuilt by the returning exiles from Babylon under Zerubbabel in the year 520 B.C.E. but on a less grandiose scale until 500 years later, Herod reconstructed in the year 20 B.C.E.  It was this Second reconstructed Temple which was destroyed by the Roman power under Titus in the year 70 of the Common Era.  The land of Israel and the

People of Israel, both seared and scarred with the agonies of two thousand years of separation, now clasped each other in ardent re-union.

          The Valley of Dead Hope you might find highly dramatic predictions, but be assured that Ezekiel listened well to the message of shaking bones.  The opening section of chapter 37 is among the most important in the Bible.  The power of God actually breaks into history and gives it new direction.  It speaks to us of a God who can achieve the impossible.  This is one of the marvels of history, it is something on which we can cling to when we have individual or national disheartenment.   Hosea  speaks of transforming trouble into hope when he wrote, “But now listen, I will woo her, I will go with her into the wilderness and comfort her; there I will restore her vineyards, turning the Vale of Trouble into the Gate of Hope… Hosea2:14-15


There is a Valley called Trouble where everyone must go.

For some the stay is short, for others the stay goes slow.

The valley door is framed in hope and that is the only way

To walk into the freshness of the morning on a sunny day.

We can learn endurance and reverence for God in this place.

Where darkness abounds and dimness clouds His face.

But no matter how dark the Valley of Trouble may be,

Our future is bright when,

“Oh Lord, we lean on Thee.”

I have been in the Valley where all I had was bitterness,

Where the King put my hard shell in His winepress.

But after the crushing, there was wine,

And the King said,

“At last you are mine.”

Dean Albritton, 1997


          Tense and awestruck, we stand riveted in this valley of dry bones, feeling already the depressing hopelessness of the whole scene.

          “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold they say, our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: Ezekiel 37:11

          The chill and comfortless winds moan down the cheerless valley pressing through the scattered bones and sightless eye-sockets with dismal-sounding chorus of despair.

                   “Our hope is lost, our hope is lost.”

          Israel’s restoration could not be achieved by human power, but only by the Spirit of God.”

          “Our hope is not lost.”  The seven strand cord is holding fast.  The promise to Abraham is being revealed before our very eyes.  Does this secure you faith?  It does mine!

          Let me close with Ezekiel’s words.  ”And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.  And I the Eternal will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the Eternal have spoken it.”