Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dry Bones

Again he said unto me, prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live [Ez. 37:4-5]

I believe that this passage provides for us a vivid description of the distinction between the Old Testament and New. I have been hunting for an illustration to describe how I see the difference, and I think this is the best.

The OT, and in particular its religious and liturgical forms, sacraments and laws, can be best be described as a pile of dusty bones. Without a Spirit of life, these bones do nothing but rot. The NT provides that Spirit, so that the bones are able to join together, stand up and come alive. The living being is is as different from (and better than) the pile of dry bones as can be.

What I like about this image though is that the relationship between the two is as much a continuity as it is a contrast. The Spirit does not come so that the bones of the OT are no longer necessary. In fact, the bones are as crucial to the living being as the Spirit of life is.

The great sin of the New Testament is to desire to go back to a time when all we had was dusty bones. This obviously will not do. The corresponding danger is to hate the bones and want to get rid of them. This will not do either.

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