Skeletons and bones are mentioned numerous times throughout the Bible, often symbolizing different things depending on the context. For Evangelical and Charismatic Christians seeking to understand the deeper spiritual meanings behind these symbols, examining the key passages that mention skeletons and bones is essential. This blog post will provide an in-depth look at the major symbolic meanings behind skeletons and bones in the Bible.
In the Bible, skeletons and bones represent a wide range of symbolic meanings, including mortality, death, resurrection, strength, and even the structure and essence of a person’s being. Bones provide form and structure to living beings, so they often symbolize strength and fortitude. Yet because bones remain long after death and decay, they also remind us of our mortality and eventual decay.
For Evangelical and Charismatic Christians who take the Bible literally, understanding why bones and skeletons are mentioned in key passages helps uncover deeper layers of meaning. By looking at the context around biblical references to bones and skeletons, we gain insight into the spiritual truths and prophetic visions they represent.
Some key symbolic meanings of skeletons and bones in the Bible include:
- Mortality and death
- Resurrection and restoration
- Strength and fortitude
- The essence and structure of a person
- Renewal and revival
- Something dead and worthless
- Emphasis and assertion
As we explore what the Bible says about bones and skeletons, these themes arise again and again. God can use even dry bones to breathe new life and hope into those who believe.
- Prominent Symbolic References to Skeletons and Bones
- Key Symbolic Meanings of Bones in the Bible
Prominent Symbolic References to Skeletons and Bones
Here are some of the most prominent symbolic references to skeletons and bones in the Bible:
Dry Bones Prophecy (Ezekiel 37:1-14)
One of the most famous symbolic references to skeletons in the Bible is the vision of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37. Ezekiel sees a valley full of dry bones and is commanded to prophesy over them. As he does, the bones come together, flesh grows over them, and breath enters them, and they become a great army of living people.
This well-known passage symbolizes Israel in exile and captivity, lifeless and without hope. God promises to revive and restore Israel, bringing them back to their land in a great revival. Just as dead, dry bones can be brought back to life through God’s power, so can the nation of Israel be resurrected even after exile and captivity.
Mortality of Humans (Job 10:11 NKJV)
You clothed me with skin and flesh, And knit me together with bones and sinews.
Here Job refers to God creating him with bones and flesh, emphasizing the mortality and frailty of human beings. Our bones and flesh will eventually decay after death, so they symbolize our finite human existence.
Bones Shaking in Fear (Psalm 6:2 NKJV)
Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled.
Here David speaks of his bones being weak and troubled as an expression of his fear, anguish, and emotional turmoil. Even our innermost being can be shaken with fear, dismay, and grief.
Broken Bones (Psalm 51:8 NKJV)
Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
When David pleads for God’s forgiveness and joy after his adultery and having Uriah killed, he asks for his broken bones to rejoice again. This implies his sin has shattered his innermost being, and only God’s redemption can restore him completely.
Strength in Bones (Proverbs 3:7-8 NKJV)
Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.
Here Solomon equates wisdom and the fear of the Lord with strength in one’s bones. Bones provide structure and strength for living beings, so healthy bones represent vitality and fortitude.
Dry Bones Prophecy #2 (Ezekiel 24:3-5 NKJV)
And utter a parable to the rebellious house, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Put on a pot, set it on, And also pour water into it. Gather pieces of meat in it, Every good piece, The thigh and the shoulder. Fill it with choice cuts; Take the choice of the flock. Also pile fuel bones under it, Make it boil well, And let the cuts simmer in it.”
In this passage, Ezekiel commands the people to boil meat and good cuts with fuel bones. The fuel bones represent the dead bones of the people of Jerusalem who will be destroyed and burned. This refers to the coming siege and destruction of Jerusalem for the people’s rebelliousness against God.
Key Symbolic Meanings of Bones in the Bible
Based on these prominent passages, we can summarize some of the main symbolic meanings of bones in the Bible:
Mortality and Death
Bones remain long after death and decay, so they poignantly represent mortality and remind us of the frailty of human existence. Passages like Job 10:11 emphasize how our bones will eventually decay like all living things.
Resurrection and Restoration
Just as God can resurrect dry, lifeless bones in Ezekiel’s vision, bones can represent hope for restoration even when things seem dead and beyond hope. The dry bones prophecy points to vibrant resurrection after exile and captivity.
Strength and Fortitude
Healthy bones provide strength and structure for the body, allowing us to stand firm. Thus strong bones can symbolize vigor, vitality, and fortitude as referenced in Proverbs 3:8. Broken bones imply the opposite—a shattering of strength through calamity.
Essence and Structure of a Person
Bones give form, structure, and delineation to a person’s body. Thus they can represent the framework or essence of a person as referenced in Psalm 51:8 where David speaks of his shattered bones that need mending.
Renewal and Revival
In addition to resurrection, bones can represent renewal and revival more broadly. Just as scattered dry bones are reassembled, reconnected, and revived in Ezekiel’s vision, so God can bring renewal and unity to other areas of life as referenced in Lamentations 3:4.
Something Dead and Worthless
In Ezekiel 24:3-5, the fuel bones represent the dead people of Jerusalem who will be destroyed and burned. Here dry bones symbolize something dead, worthless, and ready to be discarded.
Emphasis and Assertion
Saying “bone and flesh” emphasizes that something is real and certain. This idiom asserts and stresses the truth of a statement, as when the resurrected Jesus asserts “a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39 NKJV).
For Evangelical and Charismatic Christians seeking to interpret the Bible, understanding the symbolic meanings behind biblical images like skeletons and bones provides valuable insight. Passages that mention bones remind us poignantly of our mortality while also offering hope of restoration. God can resurrect and revive even dry, scattered bones into new life.
Ultimately, skeletons and bones in the Bible represent the essence of our finite humanity, but point to the infinite hope we have in Christ. Just as God fashioned Adam from the dust and breathed life into his bones, so He can revitalize our lives with divine purpose and destiny. As we mediate on biblical passages referencing bones, we gain new perspective on God’s redemptive love and saving power.