The Road of Bones
“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 asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I said, ‘Sovereign Lord, you alone know.’”
Ezekiel 37:1, 3 (NIV UK)
In the early twentieth century rich reserves of gold and other metals and minerals were discovered in the Kolyma region in the Russian Far East. This region, part of which lies within the Arctic Circle, has a sub arctic climate with very cold winters lasting up to six months of the year. In the early 1930’s Joseph Stalin took the decision to open up this remote region to exploit its wealth by constructing a new highway using forced labour. The Kolyma region became notorious for the Gulag system of forced labour camps. The forced labourers were subjected to harsh and cruel conditions and those who died or were executed during construction of the road were buried where they fell. Since the road was built on permafrost, internment into the fabric of the road was considered more practical than digging new holes to bury the dead. Hence the road became known as the road of bones.
Does the tragic story of these enslaved peoples end here in hopelessness on the road of bones? Does any individual’s story, whether tragic or otherwise, end at death? As the above scripture states, God asked a similar question of the prophet Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?” to which Ezekiel replied “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” The answer to this question cannot be deduced by human reason or from human experience; it can only come from God by revelation.
In reply to those who did not believe in the resurrection or an afterlife Jesus Christ stated, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29) That power of God is revealed in Jesus Christ who stated, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)
Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) The Greek word translated way could also be translated road or highway. It is by being in this road that stretches out into eternity, by being in Christ and believing in him, that all humanity can come to the Father and have eternal life.
Father, we thank you for the hope we have of an eternal future through Jesus Christ our saviour.
Study by Eddie Marsh
Grace Communion, Sheffield
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