Summary: It is true that sinners do need to catch a revelation of God. But this verse was not written to sinners; rather, it was written to God’s people.
WITHOUT A VISION
Scripture: Proverbs 29:18
This is an old revival theme. I have heard numerous sermons from this text; however, I believe the wrong emphasis is often placed on the message. Sermons from Proverbs 29:18 usually tell me about the terrible sinners of this world who are going to perish because they have no vision of God.
It is true that sinners do need to catch a revelation of God. But this verse was not written to sinners; rather, it was written to God’s people. The word perish in the original means, first of all, "to make naked." In other words, garments or ornaments are taken away and the person is exposed to shame, or armor is removed and he is open to danger.
Next, perish means people will become idle. When there is no revelation, no call to God, no challenge to godliness, the people sit idly by.
Further, perish means the people will be scattered abroad. Jesus saw the people as sheep having no shepherd. When there is no focal point, there is no rallying point.
The word perish also carries the meaning of Hosea 4:6, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." Proverbs 29:18 is a message for the church, a message for you and me. It is simply this: Without a constant revelation of God’s power and glory in and through us, we shall perish AND the world with us! God is simply reaffirming a basic tenet of faith-before anything great can ever be done, somebody has to catch a vision of it.
God says that any way other than His is futile. In Ezekiel 7:15, He says that without God you’ll only find a famine within and a sword without. Unless we see as God sees and understand as He would have us, we will perish. I would like to point out three times in the Bible when there was no vision or revelation from God.
THREE PICTHRES OF PEOPLE PERISHING WITHOUT A VISION
And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision (I Samuel 3:1).
The scene surrounding this verse is pitiful. Eli, the aged priest in the house of the Lord, is old and going blind-physically and spiritually. His two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who serve also as priests in the temple, are so low that they commit sexual acts with the women coming to offer sacrifices. The Bible calls them "sons of Belial."
God sent a man to tell Eli about his sons and what the future held as his house would be cut off, but Eli had no influence over the boys.
The Philistines came to fight against the people of God, and when it looked as if they would overtake the land, Hophni and Phinehas remembered how the ark of the covenant seemed to always insure victory for God’s people. They took it to the field of battle; however, God was not with them because of their sins. Although the Israelites shouted when they saw the ark, they soon learned that spiritual things in the wrong hands are of no avail.
The Philistines conquered Israel that day. Thirty thousand Israelites were killed that day, including Hophni and Phinehas. The ark of the covenant was taken by the Philistines. A man ran from the battle back to Shiloh to tell Eli the sad news. With torn garments and dirt upon his head, the man sorrowfully related the deaths of Hophni and Phinehas. Then he reported that the ark had been taken. When he mentioned the ark, Eli fell backwards from a wall, broke his neck, and died.
The messenger then went to Phinehas’s house, where Phinehas’s wife was about to deliver a child. When he told her the sad news, she went Into labor. A boy was born and the mother died, but before she died, she proclaimed, "Name the child Ichabod, saying, The glory Is departed from Israel."
Talk about terrible conditions! Without a vision, there Is nothing but desolation, destruction, and death.
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find It. In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst . . . . even they shall fall, and never rise up again” (Amos 8:11-14).
God continued to declare that there would be no escape for them. If they climbed up to heaven, He would bring them down. On top of Mt. Carmel or in the depths of the sea, they would not escape His wrath. Whether they were in captivity or free, the sword would slay them. His stern rebuke was, "All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us" (Amos 9:10).