The Vision of Dry Bones

So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone.
Ezekiel 37:7

Ezekiel’s vision of the Valley of Dry Bones is a dramatic picture of the restoration of the nation of Israel, and it’s one of the most important prophetic chapters in the Bible. But behind the prophecy is a biblical reality. God can resurrect the body—perfectly, completely, and supernaturally.

In this vision, Ezekiel was carried to a great valley littered with dry bones, baked white by the sun. As he watched, the bones began to reassemble themselves into complete skeletons, and then bodies appeared around them with sinews and flesh and skin. Breath entered them, and they stood up, alive, a mighty living army.

Though the application of the vision involves the restoration of the nation of Israel, there’s reality behind the image. The omniscient God knows the location of every bone, every fragment, every molecule, and every grain of dust of all the saints of the ages. One day He will supernaturally bring our human bodies together, breathe into us His Spirit, and equip us physically for eternal life. Because of the resurrection of Christ, the process of death will one day be reversed, and death will be swallowed up in victory.

Our old history ends with the cross; our new history beings with the resurrection.
Watchman Nee


Is There Evidence for the Resurrection?

Resurrection means that the worst thing is never the last thing.

I have struggled with doubt for years. I’m part of the Thomas Tribe (literally, my name is Thomas). I don’t like it, but my mind just works that way. And at times, it’s been horrifying, lonely, and even deeply depressing. I’m an obsessive analyzer. I don’t know how to turn my mind off. I fixate and sometimes sink into the quicksand of doubt.

But here’s what else I can tell you. When I struggle with doubt, I go back to the resurrection. And here’s why—I can’t get around the evidence. I’ve tried. Not because I want to get around the evidence but to see if I can, to test the strength of the resurrection.

I’m thankful that the resurrection of Jesus Christ comes fully furnished with solid evidence. It’s critical that it does, because our faith hangs on this crucial event in history. Remember the apostle Paul’s shocking statement that I cited in the previous article (Resurrection: Fact or Fiction) ?  “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). That’s jaw dropping. Paul is basically saying, “Hey Christians, our faith rises and falls on the resurrection.”

I hate to say it, but if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, we are deceived Christians. We’ve been duped. We’ve bought a lie and we’re anesthetizing ourselves on a mere fairy-tale. So if our faith isn’t fiction, what evidence is there for the resurrection? In short, here are five lines of evidence.

First, women were the first to discover the empty tomb. Why is this critical? It is well known and unfortunate that the testimony of women in the ancient world wasn’t highly regarded. If the authors of the Gospels were making up this story, they wouldn’t have fabricated women as the first witnesses of the resurrection. Rather, they would’ve had bona fide witnesses as the first discoverers of the empty tomb.

Second, the empty tomb is evidence for the resurrection. Even after the disciples were claiming that Jesus rose from the dead, no one was able to call their bluff. And that’s because they weren’t bluffing. As we discussed in the previous article, if the disciples stole the body of Jesus, do you think they would have died for a lie? And if some nonbelievers stole Jesus’s body, they most assuredly would’ve brought it out into the open once the rumor began spreading that Jesus rose from the dead.

Third, post-resurrection appearances provide further evidence for Jesus’s resurrection. As I said in the previous chapter, Jesus appeared to His followers on several different occasions, and He even appeared to more than five hundred at one time. By doing so, Jesus was establishing visible evidence for His eyewitnesses that He had defeated the grave.

Fourth, fulfilled prophecy served as another line of evidence for Jesus’s resurrection. His resurrection was prophesied in the Old Testament (Psalm 16:9-10) and Jesus Himself prophesied His own resurrection in the New Testament (Matthew 12:40; Mark 14:58; John 2:18-22).

Finally, you can’t explain the early church and the radical life change of Jesus’s disciples apart from the resurrection. The disciples saw something. These once fearful disciples, who could hardly follow Jesus during His earthly ministry, would now willingly lay down their lives for Him. That’s because they saw a living Jesus and experienced a radical life change. His resurrection turned doubting Thomas into a great missionary, denying Peter into a bold preacher, and adversary Paul into a tireless advocate of the gospel.

The case for the resurrection is so robust that many skeptics through the ages have become sincere followers of Jesus Christ in light of all the evidence. Now that’s exciting.

Thought to Ponder: The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the exclamation point to the truthfulness of Christianity.

Memory Verse: If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:14).

One-Minute Apologist Video: Bobby Conway, “Proofs of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?”

Resurrection: Fact or Fiction?

If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.

Following the first Easter Sunday, it didn’t take long for people to come up with fictitious claims to debunk the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They knew that if they could cast doubt on the resurrection, Christianity would crumble. In fact, Paul writes, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).

Here are a few theories that critics of the resurrection sought to advance:

Jesus’s body was stolen. This was the first theory proposed. But if Jesus’s body had really been stolen, don’t you think the thieves would have produced the body once the disciples claimed “He has risen”? They would have called the disciples’ bluff. Guaranteed. And if the disciples stole the body—the story the Jewish leaders came up with (Matthew 28:11-15)—do you think they would have died martyrs’ deaths for a hoax? Of course not. As it’s been said before, “Many will die for what they think to be true, but no one will die for what they know to be false.”

The people were hallucinating. Scoffers said that the witnesses who claimed to have seen Jesus after His death must have been hallucinating. However, Jesus appeared to a number of people on several different occasions following His resurrection, and on one occasion, He appeared to more than five hundred people at once (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). Now in my pre-Jesus party days, I understood hallucination, and I can tell you that five hundred people don’t hallucinate like that. They saw something. They saw Him. Alive.

Jesus passed out. This is known as the “swoon theory.” Popularized in the eighteenth century, it suggests that Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross but merely passed out. Then once inside the tomb, He regained consciousness and rolled the stone away Himself. But ponder this. Jesus had been so severely scourged that He had to have the help of Simon of Cyrene to carry His cross (see Luke 23:26). His head had multiple puncture wounds from the crown of thorns, His wrists and ankles had been nailed to the cross, and He had been stabbed in the side. After He was taken down from the cross, His body was wrapped in seventy-five pounds of linen. Do you think Jesus could have regained consciousness, unwrapped Himself, and moved a two-ton stone out of the way?

The fact is… Jesus is alive. Sometimes it’s just easier to believe the facts than create fiction. So go ahead; stick your head in the tomb. You see, it’s empty and the living Jesus is ready to change your life. Today.

Thought to Ponder
The tomb became empty so our lives could become full.

Memory Verse
He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay (Matthew 28:6).

One-Minute Apologist Video: Gary Habermas, “The Resurrection,”

Faith and Hope

[He] was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
1 Peter 1:20b-21

When counselors encourage their clients to “have faith and hope,” a reasonable response might be, “Faith in what? Hope in what?” For sure, encouraging a discouraged person to have a positive attitude and a bright outlook can be helpful. But in truth, faith and hope are only as good as their object. Which would be wiser when faced with walking across a frozen pond: great faith in a very thin sheet of ice or weak faith in a very thick sheet of ice? If the object of faith is most important, weak faith in a thick sheet of ice would be better and safer.

Peter says that God demonstrated, through Christ’s resurrection and glorification, that our faith and hope should be in God. The Resurrection is history’s greatest demonstration that life eternal awaits all who put their faith and hope in God. And if we have that certainty for the end of life on earth, we can depend on it to keep faith and hope alive until we get there.

Develop your faith and hope in God by renewing your mind with His “exceedingly great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4).

The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.
George Muller

Living Hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 1:3

Today, fears of terrorism, incurable diseases, and economic collapse rank high on lists of people’s fears. But behind modern fears looms the fear to which terrorism, disease, and destitution lead: the fear of death. The writer to the Hebrews talked about people “who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:15).

We have no certain hope against terrorism and the like. But we have great hope against death! And that hope is called the Resurrection. The apostle Peter said that Christ’s resurrection is the basis for our “living hope”—a hope that characterizes our life daily. Why does Christ’s resurrection give us hope? Because His resurrection was only the first fruits. Because Christ was resurrected from the dead, all who believe in Him will be resurrected too. The apostle Paul wrote that our faith is hopeless if Christ wasn’t raised from the dead. But because He was resurrected, we have a living hope!

If we have hope in the face of death, we can have hope in the face of anything and everything else.

Christianity is essentially a religion of resurrection.
James S. Stewart