The Spiritual Symbolism of Bones

Bones play an important symbolic role throughout the Bible. As the framework that supports the body, bones represent strength, perseverance and resilience. At the same time, because bones decay after death, they serve as a reminder of human frailty and mortality. For believers, bones can inspire meditation on spiritual truths related to life, death and resurrection. As we explore the spiritual meanings behind these essential structures, may we be drawn closer to our Creator.

Key Takeaways:

  • Bones represent strength and resilience during life’s trials
  • The fragility of bones reminds us of our mortality and need for God
  • Dry bones prophesy God’s power to restore spiritual life
  • Breaking Jesus’ bones fulfilled Scripture and Passover symbolism
  • God shaping bones in the womb reinforces our identity in Christ
  • Handling bones respectfully honors our connection to past generations
The Spiritual Symbolism of Bones

Bones Provide Structure and Strength

Throughout the Bible, the incredible strength and resilience of bones are used to illustrate profound spiritual truths. In Ezekiel 37, God leads the prophet to a valley full of dry bones and asks if these bones can live again. Ezekiel replies, “O Lord GOD, you know” (Ezekiel 37:3). God then commands Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones, which begin to rattle and assemble into complete skeletons. At God’s word, muscles, skin and breath enter the bodies, representing the restoration of Israel.

Just as bones form the foundation that supports our physical bodies, it is our faith in God that gives us strength to withstand the trials of this world. The dry bones were able to rise up because God commanded it; He can revive and restore anything that seems lifeless or hopeless. When we trust in His power, we become resilient like bones.

The psalmists also use the durability of bones as a metaphor for surviving adversity. In Psalm 35:9-10, David prays for defense against his enemies, asking God:

And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation. All my bones shall say, LORD, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him? (KJV)

Even under attack, David’s bones testify to God’s deliverance. Our bones can praise God and prophesy His goodness, no matter what challenges we face. As Ephesians 6:13 urges us to “put on the whole armor of God,” may our spirits be strengthened like bones.

Bones Remind Us of Our Mortality

In contrast to their strength in life, bones vividly represent death and decay. Scripture often refers to the dead as “dry bones” (2 Kings 23:14). After Lazarus dies, his sister Martha protests that his decaying body will stink (John 11:39). When Joseph requests his bones to be carried from Egypt to the Promised Land, it underscores how temporally our earthly frames return to dust (Exodus 13:19).

The perishable nature of bones reinforces how our lives on earth are fleeting. As David prays in Psalm 22:14, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.” When we recognize the fragility of our bones, it humbles us and turns our hearts to God.

Our mortal frames cannot save us. We must look beyond earthly glory to the resurrection hope found in Christ. As King Hezekiah wept when told he would die, God showed mercy by restoring his health. Hezekiah declared, “The living, the living – they praise you, as I am doing today” (Isaiah 38:19). Though our bones waste away, God’s salvation preserves our spirits.

Meditating on the frailty of bones gives us wisdom to number our days so we can gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). The perishable teaches us to prioritize the eternal. As 1 Peter 1:24 reminds us, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall.” When we recognize that our outer shells will decay, we can set our minds on the Spirit which brings life and peace.

Dry Bones Prophesy Restoration of Spiritual Life

One of the most dramatic displays of God’s life-giving power in the Bible is when He resurrects dry bones in Ezekiel 37. God leads Ezekiel to a valley full of scattered bones and asks if these bones can live again. Though the bones represent Israel’s exiled state of hopelessness and despair, God promises to put His breath in them so they can live.

At God’s command, Ezekiel prophesies to the bones, calling for breath to enter them, muscles to cover them and skin to bind them together. Before Ezekiel’s eyes, the bones begin rattling and coming together into full bodies. As he continues to prophesy God’s restorative power, breath enters the resurrected frames and they stand as a vast army prepared for battle.

This vision graphically demonstrates God’s authority over death and His intent to redeem what seems lost. Just as the dry bones found new life through God’s Spirit, He can revive areas of our lives that feel barren or defeated. Though we may feel like those scattered bones – disconnected, dismembered and void of hope – God’s Spirit can miraculously restore us. He specializes in bringing life from death.

No matter how long we have been in exile or how impossible redemption may seem, God can resurrect our dreams, relationships and spiritual passion when we invite His Spirit to breathe new life. He can put flesh back on what feels like dead bones inside us and realign that which feels out of joint. Through prophecy, He awakens new vision that was dormant. As our all-powerful Maker, nothing is beyond His ability to restore. Just as He revived Israel, He revives each of us who call out to Him with expectant faith.

Jesus’ Unbroken Bones Fulfilled Scripture and Signified Salvation

During Christ’s crucifixion, the Romans broke the legs of the criminals to accelerate death by asphyxiation. But when they came to break Jesus’ legs, He was already dead. John 19:36 notes, “These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken.'”

This fulfills thePassover requirement to leave no bones broken in the sacrificial lamb (Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12). It also fulfills the messianic prophecy, “He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken” (Psalm 34:20). God would not allow the bones of His spotless Lamb to be desecrated.

Jesus’ unbroken bones testify to the perfection of His sacrifice. While the Passover lamb’s bones secured Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt, Christ’s bones defeat sin and death forever. Jesus became the sacrificial Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. Just as the angel of death passed over households with lamb’s blood on the doorpost, God’s judgment passes over those covered by Jesus’ blood.

Not only did Jesus’ perfect bones fulfill Scripture, but His resurrected body also becomes the template for our glorified frames. Our spiritual bones find eternal strength in Him. Though we die and our bones decay, all who believe in Christ will be raised with incorruptible bones to everlasting life. As 1 Corinthians 15:42, 54-55 declares, “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable…the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.'”

Because Jesus’ bones were protected, ours are eternally preserved in Him. We can rejoice that no matter what happens to our earthly tent, we have an indestructible building from God in the age to come!

God Knitting Bones in the Womb Reinforces Our Identity in Christ

Not only do bones represent the end of life, but the beginnings as well. Psalm 139 praises how God masterfully forms each child in the mother’s womb:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16)

The psalmist uses the metaphor of knitted bones to describe God personally shaping and protecting babies as they develop. He intimately fashions each bone, fully aware of all our days ahead. The bones that provide structural integrity also represent God’s steady hand guiding our formation.

Not only does God knit physical bodies, but He is weaving together our spiritual identities as well. Paul reminds believers in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Through Christ, we become new creations empowered to walk out the good works God planned.

Knowing God is actively knitting beautiful purpose into the fabric of our inner being helps us reject lies about who we are. We can embrace our true identity as His workmanship and boldly walk in it, just as our bones enable us to walk upright. The bones formed in darkness prophetically declare the plans God has for us in the light.

Handling Bones Respectfully Honors Generational Connection

One final important biblical theme about bones is their treatment after death. When Joseph died in Egypt, he instructed that his bones be carried back to the Promised Land when God delivered Israel (Genesis 50:25). He wanted his remains to find rest in his ancestral home, not a foreign tomb. This act honored his connection to the fathers of the faith.

Likewise, when faithful Eleazer died during the wilderness wandering, the people carefully buried him near Moses’ son so his bones stayed with the congregation (Exodus 13:19). Even after death, believers wished to maintain community with those who walked in covenant with God.

The Bible warns against disturbing grave sites or dishonoring human remains lest it defile the land God gave as an inheritance (2 Kings 23:14-16). Respecting bones upholds the sanctity of life and the family legacies that shape generations.

For charismatic believers, honouring those gone before us also acknowledges how their prayers and faith undergird us today. As Hebrews 12:1 says, we are surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses” who cheer us onward. The righteous bones buried generations ago still cry out on our behalf through lasting spiritual impact.

When we remember the bones of saints resting in hope of resurrection, we reinforce our shared destiny and family ties binding us in Christ. Their perseverance through trial spurs us on. We respect their bones by walking in the faith they modeled, building on their spiritual legacy.


Throughout Scripture, bones symbolically represent key spiritual truths. They illustrate both our earthly frailty and eternal redemption through Christ. Bones remind us of the brevity of life while also foretelling resurrection. Beyond death, bones that seemed discarded rise again in new life at God’s command.

May meditation on the spiritual significance of our bones lead us into greater awe of the Lord who forms, sustains and redects us. Let us find strength in the trials of our flesh by trusting Christ’s work on the cross. And may we honor past generations who paved the faith’s foundations with their perseverance. Across time and eternity, God’s purposes for our mortal frames display His unending glory.

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