Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,CHAPTERS 37-48
The Future Blessings of Israel, the Nation Regathered,
Their Enemies Overthrown, the Millennial Temple, and the Division of the Land
1. The vision of the dry bones and Judah and Israel reunited (Ezekiel 37:1-28)
3. The millennial temple, its worship, and the division of the land (Ezekiel 40:1-49; Ezekiel 41:1-26; Ezekiel 42:1-20; Ezekiel 43:1-27; Ezekiel 44:1-31; Ezekiel 45:1-25; Ezekiel 46:1-24; Ezekiel 47:1-23; Ezekiel 48:1-35)
Ezekiel 37:1-28. The future restoration of Israel, both nationally and spiritually, is now shown to the prophet in a vision. What these dry bones represent and what their revival mean, is explained by the Lord Himself. It may be used in application in different ways, to illustrate certain truths, but the true and only interpretation is the one which is given by the Lord in Ezekiel 37:11-14. But there is an erroneous interpretation of a serious nature which is widely taught and believed among many Christians. Because “graves” are mentioned, beside the dry bones and their resurrection, it is being taught that the vision means physical resurrection. Systems, like Millennial Dawnism, alias International Bible Student Association and others, which teach the so-called larger hope, a second chance for the impenitent dead, the restitution of the lost, teach that all the Israelites who have died in their sins will be brought out of their graves and then be saved. They use this vision to confirm this invention. An advocate of this theory declared that all the Christ-hating Pharisees and Sadducees who lived when our Lord was on earth would be raised up when He comes and then believe on Him.Matthew 23:39 was used by him as an argument. These restitution teachers also teach that inasmuch as Israel will have a second chance when they are raised from the dead, the Gentile dead will share also in the same. It needs no argument to refute this. The Word of God teaches a twofold resurrection: A first resurrection and a second resurrection, a resurrection of the just and a resurrection of the unjust John 5:28-47. According to the above theory, there would have to be a third resurrection, a resurrection for a second chance and ultimate salvation of those who died in their sins. Of such a resurrection the Bible knows nothing.
In this vision of the dry bones, physical resurrection is used as a type of the national restoration of Israel. It is used in the same way in Daniel 12:2. In that passage the sleep in the dust of the earth is symbolical of their national condition. And when their national sleep ends there will be an awakening. When we read here in Ezekiel of graves, it must not be taken to mean literal graves; the graves are symbolical of the nation as being buried among the Gentiles. If these dry bones meant the physical dead of the nation, how could it be explained that they speak and say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost?” The same figure of speech is used in the New Testament. Of the prodigal it is said, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again” Luke 15:24. Yet he was not physically dead, nor was he made alive physically. Therefore, this vision has nothing whatever to do with a physical resurrection. The late Dr. Bullinger, whose erroneous suggestions have led astray some, also taught that the vision of the dry bones includes resurrection as well as restoration.
Equally bad is that spiritualizing method which takes a vision like this, as well as the hundreds of promises of a coming restoration, and applies it all to the Church, ignoring totally the claims of Israel and their promised future of glory. This is the general trend of commentators.
Ezekiel 37:15-28 predict the reunion of Judah and Israel with one king over them. That King is our Lord. Then the angelic message given to the Virgin when the coming incarnation was announced will be fulfilled: “The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His Father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever and of His Kingdom there shall be no end” Luke 1:32-80).