Proverbs 29:18 says: Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (KJV) The RSV translates the Hebrew as: Where there is no prophecy the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law. The JPS translates the verse as: For a lack of vision a people lose restraint, but happy is he who heeds instruction. Many times I have heard this verse to support the idea that Christians need a fresh vision or prophecy from God, and without it, they will perish. The verse has been used to support new ideas not found in the Scriptures. The subtle threat is that if you oppose the new idea, you are opposing God and He is going to be really upset. However, when one understands the Hebrew meaning of this Hebrew Book of Proverbs, the difficulty disappears.
In interpreting this verse, you must understand that the second half of the verse is explaining the first half. Those people without a vision, prophecy, or revelation, will perish or lose restraint. What is the vision, prophecy, or revelation to be about. The second half of the verse gives us the guidance we need. The blessed or happy ones are those that keep the law and heed instruction. What is the instruction? The Hebrew word is torah! Now we can see the meaning of the verse. Those that cast off the torah of God, will act unrestrained. When we disregard God's instruction to us how to live, whose instruction do we follow? Generally, we become the author of how our lives are to be lived. I have discovered the blessing of obeying God's torah. Are there times that it interferes with my preferences? Of course it does! The point is that I choose to follow what God says versus what my instincts say.
People that choose to make their own rules are unrestrained. People that follow God's torah are happy and blessed. The choice seems obvious. Then why does the choice seem so difficult? And why don't more believers follow the torah? The choice is between who is going to be in charge: God or you. Your move.
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