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Proverbs 29:18, Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
Related Verse: Hosea 4:6, My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
In order to properly understand this proverb we must consider the whole verse.
Solomon, as he does in so many of the proverbs, provides a contrast of the first part of the proverb in the second part of the proverb.
So, if you do not understand a part, you should study the part that it is contrasted with.
The question that many would ask about this proverb is, "What is the vision?"
Must we see visions if we are not to perish?
Is this a personal requirement for those that God will save?
To help us understand what vision is being considered Solomon tells us in the second part of this proverb about a man that keeps the law, a man that is happy because of his keeping the law.
It appears to me then that the vision that Solomon is talking about is tied to this man's keeping the law.
Of course he does not keep it perfectly because the scripture tells us that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
But Solomon is talking about a happy man, a blessed man.
A man that is fenced in by the protective barrier of the wisdom of keeping the law.
A man that willingly accepts the limits that God has prescribed for him through the law.
How then does vision come into play in this verse?
The Bible is full of accounts of people being given visions from God.
According to the scriptures, visions, or revelation from God had two purposes.
First, a vision was given for immediate direction to individuals to do something.
Second, a vision was given to communicate knowledge of the kingdom of God to man.
God, though revelation, through visions, revealed the moral and spiritual lack in the people of God and his requirement to maintain the right relationship with Him.
The visions of prophets such as Isaiah, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and John are representative of this purpose of revelation, of visions.
In many references the Hebrew word refers to the receiving and delivering of the word of God by a prophet.
Overall, visions were used by God throughout scripture to make himself known to people.
All knowledge of God comes by way of revelation.
The word revelation means an uncovering, a removal of the veil, a disclosure of what was previously unknown.
The ability to see that which was not before seen. Vision if you will.
Human knowledge of God is revealed knowledge since God, and He alone, gives it.
He is the bridge between Himself and His creatures.
He and he alone discloses Himself and His will to them.
So by God alone can God be known.
God's ultimate revelation, his ultimate vision to the world, is Jesus Christ.
As the light of the world he is the giver of vision to the blind.
God has provided man a source of knowledge, vision, about Himself and His Son.
And that source is the Bible.
The Bible then is God's vision to you.
Vision simply means the ability to see.
Those that have vision are not blind.
In the case of this proverb the contrast is of a man keeping the law. How can he keep the law?
He can keep the law because he can see. He has vision.
He knows the law and by knowing the law, by having God given ability to see, by having vision, he can keep the law.
So the vision of this verse is simply divine instruction.
It is the seeing of God as Matthew 5:8 talks about, Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
They shall have vision of God.
In biblical times God's special revelation, his special vision, was available to specific people at specific times in specific places, but today it is available to us by study of the scriptures in the power of God's Spirit.
In this age that we live in, God's instruction, God's vision, has been given to us in a completed form in the scriptures and we should expect no more.
Does this mean that our vision is any less than the visions of old, the visions of the prophets?
No, on the contrary, Peter thought not when he compared his vision to the word of God and called the scripture a more sure word of prophecy than what he had seen:
2 Peter 1:18,21, And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; ..... For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
So in summary we can express the message of this proverb as follows:
Where people choose not to see God as he has revealed himself to man through his creation, through the scriptures and expressly through his Son, Jesus Christ, people will be naked and unprotected from all the dangers of this world, however those that see God as he has revealed himself to them, will live within the boundaries that God has established for them and by doing so they will be blessed.
So the major responsibility of preachers and teachers is to preach and teach the word of God in truth so that those who hear, will have this vision of God to keep them from perishing.
Zacheus wanted a vision of God as we read in Luke 19:3, And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.
The Greeks desired a vision of God as we read in John 12:21, The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.
Paul in Hebrews 2:9, said that believers have a vision of God, But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
The vision of Christ is the vision that teachers and preachers are committed to present to the church so that the people will not perish for: Where there is no vision, (no vision of Christ) the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, (the word of God) happy (blessed) is he.
The vision that Solomon is talking about was expressed by us last Wednesday night in Prayer meeting by the singing of this hymn:
Fill all my vision, Saviour I pray,
Let me see only Jesus today,
When through the valley Thou leadest me,
Give me thy glory and beauty to see.
Fill all my vision, every desire,
Keep for Thy glory my soul insprire,
With thy perfection, Thy holy love,
Flooding my pathway with light from above.
Fill all my vision, let naught of sin,
Shadow the brightness shining within,
Let me see only Thy blessed face,
Feasting my soul on thine infinite grace.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine,
Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine,
Fill all my vision that all may see,
Thy holy image reflected in me.
"PROVERB PRACTICALS" Article in "The Projector" for Proverbs 29:18, 20-20 VISION