aka Hot Tub Revelations
One of the ways I hit the pause button on life is to take myself to the hot tub. I carve out a few sacred blocks of time each week to refuel my spirit, soul and body. On Saturdays that means a trip to the local park district for thirty minute soak in the hot tub. I untangle, disengage, and otherwise disconnect from the world around me. It’s the process that starts my weekly pause.
I tank up so I don’t pass out in the whirlpool and then my roommate and I make the five minute drive to the public district for our weekly marination. Immersed in swirling warmth we spend about fifteen minutes in idle chatter. Then, like clockwork, she retires to the sauna, while I linger in my human slow cooker. On occasion someone else might venture in to the public bath, but they are typically unobtrusive. The neighborly ensemble of characters that brave the close co-ed quarters are rather subdued in this public, yet somehow very private, pond.
Left on my own, and half way into my thirty minute marinate I close my eyes and meditate on the Lord. For some reason I was having difficulty. My thoughts were all over the place. My week had been like this. It seemed that one thing after another kept knocking me off track. As I pondered on my lack of focus something came to mind.
A meditating practice I used to employ and can’t remember why I haven’t done it in awhile, came to mind. It’s a contemplative prayer posture. I fix my mind on the Tabernacle. I picture the white curtains that surround the structure. Then I mentally walk up to the multicolored gate and step into the courtyard. I pause in the outer court and meditate on Jesus, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29) Then as the Spirit leads me I pass by each article within the structure.
I started this practice in an effort to remember the layout and significance of the Tabernacle. It became such a beautiful and meaningful experience with God that I continued the practice long after I had memorized the furnishings. The Spirit of the Lord would move on me at times and I would linger at a particular location. Sometimes it was at the Table of Showbread. Other times it was the Altar of Incense. Sometimes it was in the outer court at the lavar.
It became extremely personal as God would sometimes invade the inner sanctum of my being. He would touch places of pain, disappointment or fears and minister healing to me. Other times He would bring insight or understanding. This practice became more than an exercise. It became a highly treasured and heartfelt way of connect with God. During those special times of encounter I experienced healing and restoration and empowerment. It’s one of the main reasons I teach on the ministry of the Tabernacle. It’s not just a structure for me. It’s very personal. It is a living and active way to engage with the Spirit of the Lord. Like the cross, the Tabernacle means more to me than a picture or symbol of my faith. It’s the place I go to for private fellowship with my God.
Because these times tend to be quite personal I usually reserve this kind of mediation for when I know I will be alone and uninterrupted. Yet this past Saturday, as I sat in the public co-ed whirlpool, I was surprised when Holy Spirit led me here. Trusting that Holy Spirit knows what He’s doing, I closed my eyes and my thoughts went to the Tabernacle. I pictured the white curtains that make up the fencing. Then I approached the blue, purple and scarlet entrance. My mind swirled for a moment as I made the attempt to progress but was halted. It took a moment, but then I realized that this was where the Lord wanted to meet with me today. Here, right here, at the entrance.
I thought, ‘this is strange‘. In the flash of a moment, I was standing not at the gate of the Tabernacle, but on the Mount of Olives facing Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives is east of the city. From atop the Mount of Olives, across the Kidron Valley, you can see the eastern wall and Temple Mount.
I visited Israel in 2008. One thing stood out to me. Everywhere you look, all down the side of the mount and throughout the Kidron Valley to the base of Temple Mount is a cemetery. While, still in a meditative state, I recalled the words of our tour guide concerning the desire of the Jews to be in proximity to the Mount of Olives in keeping with a prophecy of the resurrection of the dead due occur at the coming of Messiah. I stared into this vision and pondered on the significance for what seemed quite some time. I looked up to check the clock…
Quote: Sprawled over the slopes of the Mount of Olives overlooking the Kidron Valley (Valley of Jehoshaphat), radiating out from the lower, ancient part, which preserved Jewish graves from the Second Temple period; …according to the midrash, it is here that the Resurrection of the Dead would begin once Messiah will appear on the Mount of Olives and head toward the Temple Mount. As the sages say: “In the days to come, the righteous will appear and rise in Jerusalem, as it is said, “And they will sprout out of the city like the grass of the field” – and there is no city but Jerusalem”. [Click link for full Wikipedia Entry Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery]
On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half the mountain moving to the north and half to the south. [Zechariah 14:4]
The Vision Continues
…Only a few minutes had transpired. So, I closed my eyes again, and immediately I saw the same scene, the ancient and most important cemetery in Jerusalem. Then, Ezekiel’s experience came to mind.
The hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me out by His Spirit and set me down in the middle of the valley, and it was full of bones. Ezekiel 37:1
I’m not saying that what I was experiencing Saturday morning was a literal interpretation of Ezekiel’s prophecy. I believe the Lord was giving me a prophetic picture based Ezekiel’s experience using the profound reality of the cemetery in the Kidron Valley. I pondered these words and gazed out on the ancient remains that literally fill the valley.
v.2-3 He led me all around among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, and indeed, they were very dry. Then He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones come to life?”
This cemetery dates back 3000 years to First Temple Era (Solomon’s Temple). This valley is said to house the tombs of the prophets, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Jewish tradition relates that the beginning of the resurrection process will take place on the Mount of Olives at the end of days. Many Jews believe that those buried on the mount will be the first to arise for everlasting life with the coming of the Messiah.
The significance of my vision coupled with the prophecy given to Ezekiel I was powerfully impacted. I have never put this particular picture with the question God posed to Ezekiel. “Can these bones live? There very definitely was a cemetery full of bones in this particular valley at the time Ezekiel had his extraordinary experience. Ezekiel lived during the time of the Babylonian captivity, after the destruction of the Solomon’s temple. The Kidron Valley is said to house the cave of Jehoshaphat and the tomb of David’s son Absalom. And God asks Ezekiel, can these bones live?
I pondered on this notion. Can these specific bones live? Can this vast and multi-millennial old cemetery full of dead bones live? I love Ezekiel’s response: “Only YOU know”
“O Lord GOD,” I replied, “only You know.”
And He said to me, “Prophesy concerning these bones and tell them: ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Lord GOD says to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh grow upon you and cover you with skin. I will put breath within you so that you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’” [Ezekiel 37:3-6]
Sometimes we get to a point in life when we look at our circumstances and we don’t just think, we know, everything is dead. Things are just too far gone. We don’t see how anything good, or redeeming can ever happen. Sometimes when situations in life went the opposite of what we wanted to happen. That child ended up a drug addict despite every effort made to prevent it. That spouse walked out even though we jumped through hoops to keep them happy. That loved one died even though the whole church was praying for them. Life can hit us with heavy blows. It can not only knock the wind out of us. They can often pound us to death until all hope is gone.
Death, however, is not a barrier for God. The dead remains of a life devoured by hopelessness and despair don’t pose a problem for God. He is the One who created life out of nothing but His spoken word. And when God speaks the dried bones of our life begin to rattle. And just as the prophet watched as muscle and tissue grew over those lifeless remains at the command of God what once was beyond hope is now within reach. Then the living breath of God will come and breathe new life and not only restore hope but bring what was hoped for to pass.
Ezekiel 37:11-14 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Look, they are saying, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and tell them that this is what the Lord GOD says: ‘O My people, I will open your graves and bring you up from them, and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, My people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put My Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.’”
It doesn’t matter how long your hope has been dead. It doesn’t matter if it’s partially dead or all the way dead. God’s spoken word still brings life.
Here’s the prophetic word of the Lord:
“It doesn’t matter how long you have been without hope. I know your heart is dried up from waiting to see your promises come to pass. I know that it will take a miracle to turn your situation around. I know that life has drained everything from you. I know that circumstances have left you for dead. But I am God over your circumstances. I am the Living God! And when I speak, ‘Live!’ to these bones, then these bones WILL live. I am bringing life to your dry bones. I am breathing my breath of life into the the places which have died in you. And I am bringing your life back to you,” says your God. I am raising you up.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life”