April 9, 2018




Rwanda Genocide Memorial Service

Eun Suk Cho



Can These Bones Live?


Ezekiel 37:1-14, Can These Bones Live?




The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.



He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.



He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”


I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”



Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!



This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life.



I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”



So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.



I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.




Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’”



So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feeta vast army.



Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’



Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; 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 have done it, declares the Lord.’”



Particularity and universality are inter-connected. What is particular is found in what is universal. Maybe not all the cases, but in biblical hermeneutics, it may work. What we find in the history of Israel, a particularity, we find in history of each country. Today we see a possibility of the connection between biblical Israel and historical Rwanda.


God spoke to the Israelites through the prophets. Today God speaks to Rwandans through preachers.


Ezekiel was a second generation to Josiah. Jeremiah was among the prophets who supported Josiah in the Reform.


Jeremiah warned Judah for the coming disaster. Ezekiel saw the fall of Jerusalem in the vision, though. The people in the time of Ezekiel saw Israel as the dried bones in the valley, as the scripture describes. The dried bones are dead, having no hope at all.


It was God who drove Ezekiel to the scene. In the visitation, Ezekiel had no purpose. What he saw was the reality. The reality was the given. Nothing more than that.


But God is not a human being. God is different. He is the Creator. He is the Savior. He is not bound to the reality.


God asked Ezekiel a question, breaking the reality that Ezekiel thought as a destiny: Can these bones live?


The face that God gave this question means he had a plan for the dried bones. But Ezekiel had nothing. He had no thought of the future of Israel. Because he was among the peoples who believed Israel was dead.


"Where have you laid him?"

he asked.

John 11:34a, NIV


In the questioning to the Jews, Jesus showed them he had a plan. But they did not know that. They did not believe in him.


Come and see, Lord.

They replied.

John 11:34b, NIV


There, Jesus wept (John 1:35). Without no one may please God.


And without faith it is impossible to please God.

Hebrews 11:6a, NIV


Jesus commanded:


Take away the stone.

John 11:39a, NIV


But Martha said: "By this time, there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days" (John 11:39).


Hear Jesus' another question:


Then Jesus said,


Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?

John 11:40, NIV

And Jesus prayed to God.


Father, I thank you that you have heard me.

John 11:41b, NIV


And Jesus called in a loud voice:


Lazarus, come out!

John 11:43b, NIV


By that command, the dead man came out. He obeyed Jesus in the command!


Ezekiel heard the command.

Prophesy to these bones, and say to them,


'Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!

This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones:

I will make breath enter you,

and you will come to live.


Then you will know that I am the Lord.

Ezekiel 37:4-6, NIV


SPR by C@E. As we find in Exodus 3-4, the Creator God is the very Savior. In the Creation and in the Exodus, YHWH God wanted all the nations know who God is: I Am!


The God who showed himself to Ezekiel was the God who revealed himself to Moses. I Am that I Am!

In the eyes of human beings, to bring Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt was not possible. The Israelites under the yoke of Egyptians were but dried bones.

The same thing happened. The Israelites under Babylon turned out to be but dried bones. They had no hope at all. They did not raise any question, if they could live. Because all were dead. The ones lying on the valley, and the one who was seeing them, Ezekiel.

But God is the God of Resurrection. God is good, all the times! Amen!

My hobby these days is to listen Rwandan praises through Youtube. The gracious, beautiful, peaceful praises tell me that God had done something new already in the country.

God said,

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 have done it, declares the Lord.

Ezekiel 37:13-14, NIV


God opens the graves, and brings them up from them! In Rwanda, in 2010 and 2012, I visited several memorial parks, which were actually the graves of the Genocide. There I found some tombs opened. There were open because new bodies found new were to be laid.


But what God promises now is this: the graves will be open so that He will bring them up from them!

This what God said. The word is to be fulfilled. The Bible tells the words God spoke have been accomplished.


Let there be light! and there was the light.

If you visit Rwanda, you will find what God already did, the Resurrection. The churches are growing. When I saw the people, family by family, wearing beautiful clothes, holding hands, walking to the churches, I said to myself: This is the Kingdom of God!

What remains makes us the same pessimism: all are dead. The trauma from the Genocide. Yesterday Sunday, when Rev. Appolinary preached in the first service at Golden Gate, he introduced a young man who said, "If I meet my father, I will kill him!"

Their mouths are laughing, but their eyes crying. They are dancing, but they do not know what to dance. Here is another valley, we find the dried bones!

This is why there is a reason for us to listen to the voice of God, who raises a question: Can these bones live?

Like Ezekiel, we are to answer him:

O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.

Ezekiel 37:3c, NIV


God knows. That is why God commands. And the word is to be fulfilled. What is clear is God loves Rwanda. They will come out of the graves, and God opens the gates. They will follow Jesus Christ who called them as his disciples.


Particularity is found in universality. The message given to Ezekiel is the very message to all of us. Korea has been divided since 1948. Many believe Korean Peninsula is the grave, reserved anytime massacre. The Common Reporting Standard reported that about 25,000,000 (twenty five millions) may die in the war.

We find the similar situations in the Middle East. Actually, if we look at the world, each corner suffers the same problem. This is why Jesus has sent us to the ends of the land, preaching the Good News.

Brothers and sisters, turn off your smart phones, and now listen to the word of God. The phones tells you that you are but the dried bones. The word of God is the voice of God, saying, I will open the graves and bring us up from them.

I am the resurrection and the life.

He who believes in me will live,

even though he dies;

and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.

Do you believe this?

John 11:25, NIV


To be or not to be, this is a question. Hamlet said.

To believe or not to believe, this is a question. Jesus.


Whom do you trust more? Jesus! Amen.

Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and the perfector of our faith. Amen.




Dear heavenly father, we thank you for saying the question, Can these bones live? We did not question about that possibility. Now we believe Jesus, the Word of God, who came to us as the flesh, crucified on the Cross. Help Rwanda. Help Korea. Help Palestine. Help the US. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen!