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The Dangerous Absence of Vision

May 29th, 2012

Where there is no vision the people perish.

Proverbs 29:18

The translation of this verse into other languages has long been a challenge to scholars. The King James used the above translation; more modern translations tend to say, “Where there is no revelation the people cast off restraint,” which helps to clarify the first part of the verse but merely is more confusing about the second part. What does it mean to “cast off restraint”?

What is discussed here is the result of a people, any people, who have long disregarded the biblical revelation – the vision of God. It speaks of a general human condition that applies to virtually all organizations on earth – that people need a compelling vision to remain going in the same direction. This is true of government, of industries, of military, but also of organizations such as the Boy Scouts, the PTA, the Rotary Club, etc. But the verse actually has a much deeper meaning than only this – it describes the revelation, the vision that comes from God and that only God can provide. The witness in human hearts and minds by the eternal God of the universe is what keeps the human race going in the proper direction.

Christ said, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). When this need is not met, when the message of God is not shared or is ignored when it is shared, the result is that people tend to go their own ways, like sheep that no longer hear the shepherd’s voice. This is what it means to “cast off restraint,” that we are like sheep scattered and vulnerable to predators – quickly about to perish. We humans are not kept in physical constraints by God – though some limitations for us do exist – rather He desires to lead us gently by His Word and by His Spirit. Our hearts need to be willingly tethered to His revelation of truth, and this can only happen when we hear it, read it, and seek to obey it.

Adam Clarke wrote: “Where Divine revelation, and the faithful preaching of the sacred testimonies, are neither reverenced nor attended, the ruin of that land is at no great distance.” Not far from our house in Stuttgart had stood for some time a Bible museum – Das Bibelhaus – and only recently has it had to move to a cheaper location due to the lack of public interest. In its place a local police station has become the new renter of the building space. What a great illustration of this truth: when a society ignores the Bible they will need more police because the society itself will begin to disintegrate.

Take the Bible to your heart. Share it with others – share it lovingly, tenderly, but share it. This is the unifying call to the human race, and it keeps us as individuals and as families and churches connected to one another, going in the same direction, and going more joyfully – and that is because we are listening to God’s voice.

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