In Ezekiel 37:1-14, YHWH promises to raise his people from their graves, just as he miraculously raises the dry bones in the sight of Ezekiel. In v. 11-13, the words YHWH uses to vow his dedication to this task are touching:
Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.
The phrase “O my people” is actually only one word in Hebrew, ‘ammi, and this word is significantly tucked away both times at the end of these Hebrew phrases. The ESV, quoted above, translates this nicely.
In Hebrew (and in many other languages, for that matter), you can place emphasis on a particular word by bringing it to the front of a phrase. But, by placing the word at the end of these phrases, it is almost as if YHWH is reminding him why he is raising them back to life–they are his people!
The more I stare at this text, the more it sounds like the words of a man whose wife is lying on her death bed, vowing to do whatever is necessary in order to get her the care she needs to restore her life. His words are intense, promising to stop at nothing; however, his words are also tender as he intimates his motivation: you are my wife!
This is, in fact, exactly what is happening: YHWH sees that his people’s bones are dried up, that their hope is lost, and that they are clean cut off. They are dying, and YHWH vows, intensely but tenderly, to do whatever necessary in order to restore their life.
And he will fulfill his vow even if the cure requires his own bones to dry out, his own hope to be crushed, and his own relationship with his Father to be clean cut off. He will fulfill this vow even if he himself must enter the very grave he promises to open for others.
He does this because you and I are “his people.”