Friday, May 17, 2019

"Where there is no vision"

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18).

Many of you have heard this admonition to us. God is the only “vision-caster.” I know that Scripture says, “Plans fail for lack of counselors” (Proverbs 15:22). I know that this is important advice or guidance. God also says that we need to be discerning and follow counsel from wise biblically guided counselors. There is an ever-increasing cacophony of voices shrieking for rights and tolerance for everything and anything.

What is vision? Derek Kidner tells us in his IVP commentary on Proverbs says, “Vision is to be taken in its exact sense of the revelation a prophet receives.” Prophets were “God-speakers.” They were telling God’s people to obey the law and they would be happy. Failing obedience implies not just unhappiness but disaster. In fact the entire Old Testament delineates the story of God’s people being disobedient often, with very trying consequences. In context, the revelation of God is His word of truth for us. He started with the 10 Commandments and proceeded to reveal the entire prophetic word through men inspired by the Holy Spirit. This is as Jesus said in John 14:6, “the way, the truth and the life.”  In fact throughout Scripture God tells us that when we follow His guidance, “Against these things there is no law” (Galatians 5:23).

What is to “perish?” Let me remind you that God said in 2 Peter 3:9 that “He is patient with you, wanting no one to perish.”  God is compassionate and wants all to come to knowledge of God.  He has made His presence and sovereignty known through His creation and His word illuminated through His Holy spirit. But most would not have it. Perishing is an option. It is not just physical death, but also spiritual death. The result is known as the second death or eternity in hell outside of the presence of God, in darkness. It is Running Wild like Bear Grylls show on TV. It is unrestrained, “casting off restraint” (Proverbs 29:18 ESV). Recall how the Israelites sinfully partied when Moses was on Mount Sinai to receive the 10 Commandments?  Even Mose's brother Aaron led the people to make a golden idol to worship. It only took 40 days for this disaster. Moses said to all, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me” (Exodus 32:25). Only the Levites followed. This was a very sad time and it is only getting egregiously worse today. One way to say this is perhaps vision on the mountain and shame in the valley. We can read in 1 Samuel 3:1, “In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.”  This was the time of the prophet, warrior Samuel who brought God’s words which were not heeded by the people, perhaps most infamously by King Saul, who lost his crown. There are serious consequences to not fallowing God’s guidance or commandments.

Jesus said in the New Testament, ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light’  (Matthew 11:30).  Jesus was saying that we would find rest in Him. Or as Psalm 62 says, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken…He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people” (Psalm 62:5-8). God spoke to the prophets, but today He primarily speaks through His word, the Bible. The Holy Spirit, “The Counselor” illuminates or makes known the meaning for each of us as God desires for our good and His glory.

I know that the President of the United States has a cabinet of advisors as established by the Constitution. This council is balanced by Senate confirmation. However, today we have a president, not for the first time, who is stretching executive privilege to make law, which is not his authority.

So from where comes our advice and consent? It should come from the Lord. Henry Blackaby in his book Experiencing God said that the Holy Spirit expresses His will for us: in prayer; through His word; through other godly people and circumstances. I have a prayer partner, who is a godly man with a broken character just like mine. I also attend Men’s Bible studies to gain wisdom and discernment. I am reminded that there are a group of Bible books called the Wisdom Books, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes. These are an inspired place to go when seeking guidance. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7-8).

So where do you go for wisdom? Do you listen to the talking heads, presidential candidates, college professors, psychiatrists, wee gee board, Tarot cards, Amy, Gloria Vanderbilt, the stars, common sense from the Farmer’s Almanac, or God through Scripture.  I hear about all of these options and many more. I also look at the motivations of a source or person. I know that we cannot know the true motivations of a person’s heart for, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).  Yes, you heard it; mankind cannot be trusted unless we know them and their dispositions, motivations.

In my seminary training I came to learn about biblical reference sources. I was astounded to learn that even Bible Commentaries are written with very different perspectives from liberal to conservative and in between. Now that does not necessarily make one wrong, but it must inform us of their slant or predisposition. God tells us, “Those who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1). I take that admonition very seriously. It gets me in trouble with other people continuously, because I teach from a conservative biblical worldview. My standard is the Bible and the original intent of God through His inspired writers. There are fewer people today who come from this perspective, even though mine is like that of the “Founding Fathers” of our country.

So, I look to what Joshua who led the Israelites after Moses said in his final speech to his people. “I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.’ “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord!  And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).

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