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Ezekiel was trained to be a priest in the kingdom of Judah. When Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah he was among the captives taken to Babylon. Nevertheless God called Ezekiel to be a great prophet, ranked alongside Isaiah and Jeremiah.
When Ezekiel was 30 years old, he began to experience astonishing visions (Ezekiel 1:1).
His vision described in Ezekiel chapter 37 contains a description of the valley of dry bones, which has profound meaning for us and our departed loved ones, who may never have known God.
"The hand of the Lord came upon me and … set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones . . . and He said to me… Thus says the Lord God to these bones: 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live'... and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army" (Ezekiel 37:1-10).
God then goes on to identify the people He is talking about, "... these bones are the whole house of Israel...I will open your graves...and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord...I will put My [Holy] Spirit in you, and you shall live" (Ezekiel 37:11-14). The Apostle Paul also spoke of this incredible event when God promises the whole of Israel will be resurrected and have their opportunity for salvation in the future (Romans 11:26-27).
Several passages in the Gospels show non-Israelite peoples are to be resurrected as well. The queen of the South (Sheba), the peoples of Tyre, Sidon and Nineveh (ancient nations and city-states), and even the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah will be resurrected to physical life (Matthew 11:20-24; Matthew 12:41-42; Luke 10:12-14).
The Bible clearly shows there is more than one resurrection and the timing of this second resurrection is after the thousand-year period known as the Millennium. At this time the majority of mankind will receive their opportunity for salvation (Ezekiel 37; Revelation 20:11-13). This "great white throne" judgment will occur over a considerable period of time after God raises these people from the dead, just as those called to salvation today are judged over time by the same standard, the books of the Bible (1 Peter 4:17; 2 Timothy 3:15-17).
The festival referred to as "the eighth day" (Leviticus 23:34-36; Numbers 29:35; 2 Chronicles 7:9; Nehemiah 8:18) looks forward to the time when God will give all those who have ever lived, but never really known God, their first real opportunity for salvation.
The Good News Magazine