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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Vision Thing (10): Seeing the Present

Duccio di Buoninsegna, Jeremiah (1308-11)
Generally, when people talk about vision, they are talking about imagining and articulating a future for people to press toward. But vision isn't just about the future—it's about the present. In fact, your vision of the future won't do much good if you don't have true vision of where you are right now.

The Old Testament prophets were masters of this. For example, before Ezekiel saw his spectacular visions of apocalyptic war and a reconstituted, resettled Israel (chs. 38-48)—and much, much else besides—he saw God's vision of the current detestable idolatry of the denizens of Jerusalem (chs. 8-11). Ezekiel didn't just have a vision of the future but a vision of the present.

One particularly interesting prophet in this regard is Jeremiah, because through Jeremiah God repeatedly urged Judah to see his vision of themselves. Yahweh urged Judah to see that when they submitted to other nations when they asked for help, they were rejecting their God and humiliating themselves. He urged them to see that despite their protests of purity, they had made themselves unclean by relentlessly pursuing Baal in worship. He urged them to see that their freewheeling worship of any deity they could find was adulterous promiscuity. He urged them to see which way is the good way to go, the way he had showed them generations before, that would lead them to peaceful rest, but they would not go there. He urged them to see the desolation at Shiloh, where he had once dwelt, so that they would understand that the mere presence of his temple in Jerusalem was not enough to spare them from his judgment.

True vision isn't just a vision of where you are going. It's a vision of where you are. And you can't motivate people toward God's vision of the future if you don't convince them of God's vision of the present.

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