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Ezekiel 37

09.01.2010

Despite what the ESV Study Bible says about Ezekiel 16, I think most would consider Ezekiel 37 as the most famous passage in the book.  This is where Zeke is transported in spirit to the valley of dry bones, and in response to his prophecy they knit themselves back together and are resurrected and restored.

Going off on a tangent, this illustrates something about God that I’ve often believed.  I think of creation as subject to a kind of moral/spiritual version of the second law of thermodynamics.  This law states that nature displays a universal principle of entropy or decay.  There are creationist arguments that use this law to refute evolution, but that’s neither here nor there for my idea.

Rather, I see creation as being at a spiritual high point before the Fall, and then progressively decaying, becoming more and more depraved, more and more disintegrated (for lack of a better term).  Adam and Eve had intimate union with God and every conceivable blessing.  After the Fall, they moved progressively away from God, and everything keeps getting worse.

To provide a relatively recent example, I see Western culture as undergoing a transition over the last 200 years or so of ultimately trading one package of values and benefits for another, lesser one.  In exchange for more widespread freedoms, more tolerance for marginalized and minority groups, and a higher standard of living, we also have paid the cost of destruction to community ties, widespread loneliness and anomie, and a marginalization of faith within peoples lives from a lens through which one views the universe to a set of opinions and activities that are kept private and practiced weekly (at best).  This is the pattern I have seen throughout history.

I recognize, of course, that this is problematic.  One would imagine that creation, immediately after the flood, was collectively closer to God than it had been immediately prior.  This also can’t account for the sanctifying work of the Spirit in believers without granting billions of exceptions to this supposedly universal moral law. 

It could be that my illustration is fatally flawed.  I’m sure I indulge in selection bias, confirmation bias, and Len Bias (if that’s possible) in how I’ve constructed this model.  The exceptions, however, could also point to The Exception, to the redeeming work of Christ that, on an individual level, precedes the universal redemption of creation that is to come. 

That’s the element I see in Ezekiel 37.  I see God slowly putting back together that which has fallen into disarray and chaos and death due to the erosive power of sin.  Within history, God selectively reverses this larger trend in ways that demonstrate His nature and His glory, alluding to the ultimate and universal reversal that is to come.  (I hate when I do that, by the way, speak in ‘bumper sticker’ language, a la ‘universal reversal.’  It’s a troubling sign that I think in cliche; ugh.)

Ultimately, I am not confident enough to put forward this moral law of thermodynamics as a theological model, so to speak.  I grant that there are all kinds of problems with it, methodologically or whatever.  Rather, I hope it’s useful as a way of shifting your perspective about history, however briefly, that can open up some valuable insights into God’s nature and His plan for creation.

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