Prophets: Physical or a Vision?
Hi John. It’s like I totally missed this chapter in all the times I’ve read through the Bible. I came away a little confused. The study notes in my Bible says this was a vision, but how do I tell that from just what is written in chapter 37? Thanks as always.
Thanks for asking. Vv. 1-2 of this vision of dry bones give an indication that this was a vision, not a physical something that Ezekiel saw.
The content of the vision (vv. 2-10) shows it’s not physical, but visionary. Just get the sense of this. As you read more and more prophetic material (which includes the Book of Revelation), you’ll get a sense of the fanciful and visionary, and be able to identify it without thinking. Physical things are spoken of in a manner like this: "The armies of Assyria will march in and burn down the city.” They’ll sound like a history report. Prophetic visions speak of things like trees, mountains, valleys, melting wax, dry bones, a vine that grows and flourishes—it’s more stuff that’s like something you’d have in a dream at night, and that we’re now used to in movies because of CGI.
Visions are things prophets see (as in a dream, and not physically before them) that illustrate truths of what is set to happen in the future (or that did happen in the past) to God’s people and other nations. Hence, vv. 11-14. These verses explain the vision. V. 11: “Then He said to me: ‘These bones are the whole house of Israel.’” When you have an explanation of something after that something was described, you’ve just read of a vision.
Hope that helps!
Yours in Christ,