Without revelation people run wild, but the one who keeps the law will be happy.
The King James translates this verse, Where there is no vision the people perish. The word translated “perish” means to be deprived of moral constraints, and it envisions a society slowly wasting away from inward corruption as the knowledge of God and of His righteousness either fades from their memory or was never known to begin with.
Some people in the world are on the path toward righteousness, and some places you can see a newly converted man excited about the life in Christ lay aside his vices, embrace the teachings of righteousness, begin to be more moral in his habits and his thoughts. He throws away superstition, at least to a large degree, and learns about prayer and the Bible and Christian fellowship. His son follows in his foot steps and even goes beyond. His grandson goes still further and several generations have turned from darkness to light through the power of the gospel. All of this is by grace and human cooperation with the grace of God through faith and obedience.
But we see all too often the opposite play out, that a man’s ancestors have pointed him to God but he has let weaknesses seep into his thinking and his living. There is moral and spiritual slippage, and the daily reading of the Word of God is ignored, the revelation is cast aside and soon the sense of moral constraints begins to weaken in his life. Selfishness begins to take root and grow. His son continues this downward spiral, and his grandson slips even further.
The first man on the upward trek is represented today by the East and the second man in the downward spiral is represented by the West, but in any place on earth the matter is left in human hands. Wherever the word of God is and is read by people, they have opened up their lives to the potential of God, to know Christ personally, to experience the grace of God, to understand and embrace God’s moral standards. As Solomon wrote, “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, shining brighter and brighter until midday” (Proverbs 4:18).
Lord, forgive us for the times we put aside Your revelation of Yourself, when we ignored Your precious word and shut our ears to Your Spirit’s voice. Let us this day walk in Your wisdom and with Your Presence. Guide us in the paths of life and set us free. Amen.