Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Vision Thing (11): Seeing the Future

People generally assume that vision means seeing the future—specifically, a good future that motivates people to strive toward it. And in one sense, it is. But even in this sense, our visions often fall far short of the biblical scale.

Where vision appears by far the most often in the Bible is in the prophetical books of the Old Testament and Revelation in the New Testament. Isaiah's entire 61-chapter book is entitled "The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah" (Isa. 1:1, NASB, emphasis mine), setting the tone for the entire prophetic corpus. And one quickly loses count of all the times that John says "I saw" in his visionary book of prophecy (Rev. 1:1-3).

But the visions of these men were not happy, stretching-but-reachable futures that motivate human striving. They were far, far bigger. Their visions were not "private," by which I mean that they did not pertain to particular group or slice of the pie of reality. At their furthest extent, they encompassed the entire cosmos. And their visions generally did not depict a short- or medium-term goal. Usually the end of the vision was far beyond the visionary's lifetime; usually it was the end of history itself. And the content of the vision was not something that any person, nation, church, movement, or even all humanity together could possibly produce. That was the whole point—it is within the capacity of God alone.

This is not the only kind of vision God gives. As I have shown partly in some previous posts and will show more in posts to come, God does give vision to persons and groups that come to pass within months or years and in which human obedience has a major role to play for the vision to become reality. But it is very important that we keep those visions in perspective. Whatever vision we may receive that God employs us to achieve, no matter how large it seems to us, it is a mere pixel in the vast expanse of God's vision of everything. And don't rule out that he may give you that vision—a vision you are not to strive for, but simply to stand in awe of.

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