Dry Bones

An Extemporaneous Sermon by Rev. James P. Cooper


Thus says the Lord God to these bones "Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD." (EZE 37:5,6)

There are two themes in this vision revealed to Ezekiel

Teaching about the Life after Death to the Jewish Church

How the Lord had the power to bring dry bones to life

Spiritual life, not life in the world

The vision goes on to describe how the graves would be opened and how the dead would live again in Israel

Clearly a parable of resurrection and spiritual life

Everywhere in the Word, when it talks of the death of anyone, the internal sense carries the meaning of the resurrection of the spirit into eternal life.

Illustration of the process of regeneration

How from being dry bones

(a representation of the structure of truths that form the foundation of the human mind)

Through our efforts as if from self

(the doctrine of freedom requires that the decision to act be ours, even though the power to effect the change comes from God.)

I like to think of the passage where the Lord tells us that we can move mountains with our faith and prayers

So Jesus answered and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, Be removed and be cast into the sea, it will be done. "And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."

Lots of people picture saying a "magic" word and seeing the mountain fly away but consider what you can do with a bulldozer.

Any one of us, man, woman, or child, could sit in the seat of a bulldozer and buy moving a few levers, move a mountain.

The power to move earth is in the machine, the decision to move it is in the mind. That s the as-of-self. The decision to take a direction and to focus the spiritual power that has been given to us.

The Lord gives us sinew and flesh

(the good that comes from truth, the benefits to ourselves and others that come from acting according to the truth we have from the Word in spite of our inclinations not to.)

So that we can become living angels

Life after Death

We will treat this only in passing, as this is not really addressed to our states, but to the end of the Jewish Church so that the remnant of that church would have these truths on which to build the doctrine of the spiritual world.

Little knowledge in the Old Testament

Most Jews did not believe at all

Some believed in Reincarnation

Some, like the Pharisees, believed in some kind of afterlife

The rest believed that people only live on in the memories of those left behind

Instead, we will emphasize the parable about our spiritual lives

That in and of ourselves, we are nothing but dry bones

Proprium

This is the doctrine of the Proprium which is the way the Writings explain the difference between what is inherently one s own, and what of our own is a gift from the Lord.

Proprium is a Latin word that means "what is one s own" or "what is proper to a thing." Some translators of the Writings have simply called it "man s Own."

We could think of it as that part of our minds that is made up of natural substances and which can serve as a vessel to hold and contain the life that flows in from the Lord, making it possible for us to have conscious life.

Each individual human being has a Proprium which is different from all others, because it reflects each person s unique hereditary gifts, and the unique series of experiences and choices that are a part of every person s life.

The Proprium is a vessel of life, and as such will serve each person to eternity, literally shaping the course of their lives. That is why it is so important to learn truth and to do it in this world, for in such a way the Proprium is changed from something dead, to something heavenly.

The Lord also has a Proprium, but His is not a vessel of life, but actually is life itself, as we read in a portion of the 3rd lesson

AC 149. [2] The Proprium of man, when viewed from heaven, appears like a something that is wholly bony, inanimate, and very ugly, consequently as being in itself dead, but when vivified by the Lord it looks like flesh. For man s Proprium is a mere dead thing, although to him it appears as something, indeed as everything. Whatever lives in him is from the Lord s life, and if this were withdrawn he would fall down as dead as a stone for man is only an organ of life, and such as is the organ, such is the life s affection. The Lord alone has what is Proper to Himself; by this Proprium He redeemed man, and by this Proprium He saves him. The Lord s Proprium is Life, and from His Proprium, man s Proprium, which in itself is dead, is made alive.

AC 38126 Dry bones stands for the understanding side of the proprium, which is lifeless until it receives the life of good from the Lord. The latter life is what quickens it or brings life to it. The flesh which the Lord causes to come up over the bones is the will side of the proprium, which is called the heavenly proprium, and so means good. Spirit means the Lord s life, and when this flows into a person s good which he seems to himself to will and reform from his proprium, the good is in that case made alive, and from that good the truth also; and out of the dry bones a human being is made.

But if, through our own efforts, we begin the process of regeneration

TCR 594 Man s regeneration is described in Ezekiel by the dry bones being first clothed with sinews.&

The breath of life comes from God

Sinew, flesh, and skin appear on our bones

This reveals the astonishing truth that although feelings seem to be our own, they are entirely under the Lord s control.

Try to change your feelings by just deciding to. You can t. Any more than you can change your heartbeat by thinking about it.

You can change your heartbeat by exercise, though. And you change your feelings by acting according to truth. Then the feelings follow where truth leads.

Truth, the dry bones, is our realm. Good, the muscle, is God s gift.

And only when these come together do we become living, useful, eternal human beings.

Parallel to the living water offered to the Woman of Samaria

We go through life believing that life is our own, that we are immune from the penalties suffered by lesser people

Our well was given to us by our father, Jacob!

We love our own myths, our illusions about ourselves and others

The Lord allows crises

Because they disturb, wake us up, cause us to look at ourselves and our lives honestly

The Woman at the well was living in the illusion that her life was fine

Under the Lord s gentle questioning she was suddenly, acutely aware of her need for His living water

The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw." (JOH 415)

Life is not our own, although it feels that way

It is a gift from the Lord, re-given every instant.

It is our responsibility to revere and protect it

To build a suitable vessel that is whole

Take the framework of truth from the Word and from the world, and live according to it as if from our own power while recognizing that the real power is with God, and He will then give us the gift of a great variety of goods that will make us a complete and living whole, suitable for life in heaven.

We read from Ezekiel

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. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. Then He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live." " So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. (EZE 377-10) Amen.

1st Lesson EZE 371-11

The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. {2} Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. {3} And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" So I answered, "O Lord GOD, You know." {4} Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! {5} Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones "Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. {6} "I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD." " {7} 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. {8} Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. {9} Also He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live." " {10} So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. {11} Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!

2nd Lesson John 45-10

So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. {6} Now Jacob s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. {7} A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." {8} For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. {9} Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. {10} Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."

3rd Lesson AC 149.

In the Word also bones means the proprium, a proprium indeed given life by the Lord.

This is [shown] in Ezekiel where he describes the bones receiving flesh and having spirit put in them, The hand of Jehovah set me down in the midst of the valley, and it was full of bones. And He said to me, Prophesy over these bones and say to them, O dry bones, hear the Word of Jehovah Thus said the Lord Jehovih to these bones, Behold, I am bringing spirit into you and you will live. And I will lay sinews upon you and cause flesh to come over you and cover you with skin, and I will put spirit you, and you will live; and you will know that I am Jehovah. (EZE 371, 4-6.)

[2] Man s proprium when viewed from heaven looks just like something bony, lifeless, and utterly misshapen, and so in itself something dead. But once it has received life from the Lord it appears as something having flesh. For man s proprium is something altogether dead, though it has the appearance to him of being something; indeed it appears to be everything. Whatever is living within him comes from the Lord s life; and if this were to leave him, he would fall down dead as a stone. For he is purely an organ of life, though the nature of the organ determines that of the life-affection. The Lord alone possesses Proprium. By His Proprium He has redeemed man and by His Proprium saves him. The Lord s Proprium is Life, and from His Proprium man s proprium, which in itself is dead, is given life. The Lord s Proprium was also meant by His words in Luke,

A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see Me have. (Luke 2439, 40.)

It was also meant by the requirement that no bone of the Paschal lamb be broken, EXO 1246.


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Page constructed by James P. Cooper
Page last modified September 27, 2009