Where There Is No Vision, the People Perish (Proverbs 29:18)
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- Summary: Sometimes people will lament, "I need a vision for my life." But oftentimes the problem is that they have in the past received revelation of God's plans for them, but have let that vision die. Come and let your vision be renewed today!
Habakkuk 2:2-3, KJV …the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
- • Call them “visions” (KJV) or “revelations” (NIV) — God does give us indications of future things.
- • One of the Holy Spirit’s ministries (John 16:13) is to “show [us] things to come.” That's consistent with the Scripture's declaration that without a vision, the people perish.
- • You may have seen a vision. You may have received a spoken revelation from the Lord, perhaps a prophecy or a word of knowledge by the Holy Spirit. Or you may have been given a vision in your heart. In any case, God does give His children indications of things that lie ahead for them.
- • 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, KJV  But God hath revealed unto us by his Spirit [the things God has prepared for us — vs. 9].
Acts 2:16-17 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
- • If 2,000 years ago they were “in the last days” then, how much more so are we! And in these last days God wants His people to see some visions and to dream some dreams.
- • Job was a visionary. He foresaw the Redeemer coming to earth (Job 19:25).
- • Isaiah was a visionary. He saw the Lord upon His heavenly throne (Isaiah 6:1-8), and it changed the prophet’s life.
- • Daniel was a man of vision. He foresaw kings and kingdoms for centuries to come.
- • King David was a visionary man. He saw the Messiah coming from his lineage.
- • The apostles Peter and Paul were men of vision. They gladly endured present distress for the glory to come.
- • God wants us to be men and women of vision, because “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18, KJV). A lack of vision can lead to discouragement in our walk with God.
Acts 7:23-25 When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites. He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.
- • Moses had a noble vision. He foresaw God using him to bring deliverance to the Israelites held captive in Egypt (vs. 25). But the Bible record goes on to show that God did not use Moses to bring that deliverance until 40 years later.
- • And therein lies a danger. We can have a true hope in our hearts — a genuine “vision” burning within. And yet we can seem to go year after year not seeing it fulfilled, and we begin to lose hope and wrongly start to accept the death of a vision.
- • That’s the time to remind ourselves of Habakkuk’s word: “…the vision is yet for an appointed time … though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come” (Hab. 2:2f, KJV).
Hebrews 11:24-27; 12:1-3 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible… [12:1b-3] let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
- • Like Moses, we need to be “looking ahead” to the fulfillment of any genuine vision God has put in our hearts.
- • Like Moses, we need to persevere, because we “see Him who is invisible.”
- • We need to “fix our eyes upon Jesus” (12:2). He is the author and finisher of our faith, the beginning and the end, the starting line and the finish line. Any legitimate visions we may have for our lives must find their rightful place in Jesus’ absolute sovereignty over us, His church, and the world in which we live and minister. It is vitally important that “in all things He [Jesus] might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18, KJV), and “all things” includes our God-given visions!
- • We live in a culture that desires instant gratification. But we, like Jesus, may need to endure our cross now “for the joy set before [us]” (Hebrews 12:2).
- • If your God-given vision is clearly for the present time, then go for it with vigor. But in many cases, your vision(s) will be “yet for an appointed time.”
Hebrews 6:11-15 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
- • In Genesis, God promised elderly, childless Abraham that he would have a son. In response Abraham, whose faith and patience we are to imitate (vs. 12), did not wait idly for the promised child. Rather, he set about to obey God’s preparatory instructions — that is, to leave his land and people and go to another land which God would show him (Genesis 12:1). Abraham obeyed, and having done this, he received the promised son Isaac 25 years later!
- • Diligence in pursuing God’s leading brings about a fulfilled vision; laziness does not.
- • If God has spoken to you about things yet to come in your life, don’t become fatalistic. Don’t adopt that lazy attitude that says, “What will happen, will happen.” That is not God’s way. His way is for us to take heed to His directions and to be diligent in pursuing them.
- • Let’s consider the example of, say, a young man who correctly discerns that God has called him to become a pastor. That is a vision from God to him. But he is not to “wait for it” in a merely passive sense, just enduring the passage of the intervening years. No! Instead, he is to diligently wait for it, in a proactive way. He is to take appropriate actions — including getting bible training, submitting himself to the leadership of a bible-honoring local church, looking for pastoral on-the-job training opportunities under the mentoring of older ministers, and other similar actions.
Luke 9:62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
- • Don’t look back! The vision in your life is for the time frame of the present-to-the-future.
- • In Exodus we see the nation of Israel delivered by God from captivity in Egypt. And God gave them a vision of occupying the Promised Land. But, sadly, most of the Israelites kept looking back to the security of life in Egypt — the regular meals, the houses, the predictable life there — and forgot that Egypt had been for them a land of slavery and bondage. As a result, those looking back incurred God’s judgment and failed to enter the Promised Land.
- • I remember well the year 1975. I entered the ministry full-time in Alaska. To do so I had to walk away from a good salary, government benefits, and job security as an FAA air traffic controller. But the Lord helped me not to look back, but rather to keep focused on Jesus and the vision for the work He had called me to do. The next 31 years of full-time ministry were a joy that I would not trade for anything else.
- • Thankfully, Jesus did not “look back.” He left the glories of heaven to take upon Himself human nature and be born of the virgin Mary. Some 33 years later He was crucified for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Jesus kept His focus forward, not back — John 4:34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”
- • The apostle Paul did not look back. Nor did he allow his ministry to be deterred by beatings, shipwreck, near starvation, persecution, and many other trials. He kept His focus on Jesus and the joys that lay ahead, as he said in Acts 20:24, KJV But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
1 Corinthians 15:57-58 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
- • Stand firm … let nothing move you … give yourself fully to the work of the Lord … pursue that God-given vision for your life without wavering.
- • Your life and your labors for the Lord are “not in vain.”
- • Are you going through the everyday rigors of raising a family? Do you have a vision for them as godly adults, influencing this world for Jesus Christ? My wife and I had that vision, and we gave our energies to fulfilling it. And now  our four children are all successfully and happily married adults, each with 3 children, and all productive citizens who are actively, passionately serving the Lord. Parents of young children, stay focused on raising them to serve God, because “though [the vision] tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come” (Hab. 2:3).
- • Are you feeling, “Oh, this is just one more time of prayer among thousands of such times in a lifetime?” Ask yourself: do you have a vision of God sparing a nation (or a city? or your neighbor? or a family member?) in response to your prayers, even as God spared all Israel in response to Moses’ prayer?
In closing, do you have a vision? for yourself? for your life? for your family? for your church? for the kingdom of God and your participation in it? God has a vision for you and your life! Remember, “though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come.”
- • Actively wait … diligently wait for it.
- • Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.
- • Like Him, endure your cross now for the joy set before you.
- • Don’t look back; look ahead, as Moses did.
- • Give yourself fully to the work that the Lord has called you to. You will see fruit!
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©1978, 2014-18, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.