Some scripture verses become like a favourite jumper, pulled out on special occasions because of they fit well. Have you ever had one of those verses which you have later found to have a different meaning? Proverbs 29:18 was such a verse for me. You probably know it "Where there is no vision, the people perish". Pretty clear, isn't it? If we don't know where we are heading (have a goal) as God's people, we die - the church will no longer exist in a meaningful form. I was taken by surprise once when teaching some young people this very point. I looked in my NIV for the verse, and found that it wasn't there! Or at least in a form I recognised. It reads, "Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint"!
It was investigation time. I discovered that the word originally translated as "vision" does not mean "goal" or "dream" at all. The same word appears in Habakkuk 2:2,3 where the prophet is told to write down the revelation that God had given. This the verse could mean "Where there is no revelation of God, the people perish". BUT the word "perish" in Hebrew never means to die or lose heart.
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the 10 commandments, remember what the people were doing? They were "running wild", without restraint. That's the same word "perish". Therefore Prov 29:18 really says, "Where there is no revelation of God, the people run wild". In fact, the New King James Version translates it this way: "Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint..."
There is a challenge before us: where people do not understand the revelation of God, they run wild, just as the people of Israel before the golden calf. We have a generation of people in Australia who do not know the God revealed in Scripture. There are even people in the church who are likewise ignorant of this God. We see the consequences of this in society around us. Let us take this verse afresh as a challenge to us in ministry here.
November 21, 1993
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