Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he.
Man has spiritual wants as well as bodily wants, and he must have spiritual things to satisfy them. Temporal and visible things meet and satisfy all the wants of the body, but the soul must receive its sustenance from the invisible and the eternal. The spiritual world is a fact to the senses of the soul as truly as the material world is a fact to the bodily senses. Visions are as necessary for the soul as food for the body, and so heavenly visions were not God's gifts to one nation and for a limited time, but are to all countries and for all times. Godly men in our days are having visions exactly in the same sense as the seers and prophets of old; the difference is in degree, not in kind. But a distinction must be made between the seer in the highest sense and seers in a general sense. God inspires and gives special visions to a chosen few in different ages and countries. Note the powers of inward vision to which we give the names of insight and intuition — insight into human character, intuition of Divine principles — clear knowledge of what man is and how God will act. The original meaning of the word "saw," is to cleave, or split; then to see into, to see through, to get down beneath the surface of things and discover their real nature. What characterises the bulk of Hebrew visions is "penetrativeness." All the seers of the world are hard workers, and are active in their visions. Sometimes the seer does valuable service to the world by rediscovering some great revealed truth which had been hidden by the accretion of ages of erroneous human ideas and creeds. Luther was such an one. And we are to thank Heaven for seers like Carlyle, Ruskin, Beecher, Browning, and Tennyson, who fearlessly cleave old customs, shams, conventionalisms, dogmas, and creeds, and proclaim to the world, like the prophets of old, eternal and unchangeable truths. Note the mighty influence of heavenly visions on the world. What would have been the moral condition of the world if God had given no visions to holy and inspired men?
I. THE RESTRAINING POWER OF VISIONS. In the days of Samuel there was "no open vision." God mercifully raised him up, and gave him visions to enable him to check and restrain the ungodliness of his age. Our great want is more men of visions as political and. social reformers and preachers.
II. THE SUSTAINING POWER OF VISIONS. Men are sure to perish socially and spiritually if God does not mercifully grant them visions.
III. THE ENNOBLING INFLUENCE OF VISIONS UPON MEN'S CHARACTERS. The tendency of God's visions to men is to purify their thoughts, to elevate their spirits, to ennoble their characters. The objective in the visions gradually becomes subjective, as a part of the character. But you are not to expect these heavenly visions by sleeping and dreaming, but by holy meditation, fervent prayer, and strenuous effort to live the life of the Son of God.
IV. THE BLESSEDNESS OF OBEDIENCE TO THE HEAVENLY VISIONS. If we would know the highest joy of visions, we must obey them.
Parallel VersesKJV: Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.