The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Driven by the Vision of God

Ezekiel was a contemporary of Jeremiah and Daniel. He was a prophet called by God to minister to the exiles and is therefore referred to as a post-exilic prophet. Ezekiel is referred to as the prophet of visions because he received numerous visions from God. He was driven by these visions to a ministry that would remind the exiled captives why they were in the predicament they were in but also to strengthen those who genuinely repented of their sin and returned with their hearts to God.

Ezekiel is a book about the vision of God and its effect on people. The visions of this book are effective and influential because they are visions from God. Our world and the people in it lack vision. There is no sense of right and wrong. There is little sense of direction. The result is a world and people community that is wandering aimlessly in a fog. Someone has suggested God recall humans for reasons made clear by this illustration:

Important Recall

The maker of all human beings is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to the serious defect in the primary and central component, or heart. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect has been technically termed, Sub-sequential Internal Non-morality, or more commonly known as S-I-N, as it is primarily symptomized by loss of moral judgment.
Some other symptoms are:
(a) Loss of direction; Loss of vision
(b) Foul vocal emissions
(c) Amnesia of origin
(d) Lack of peace and joy
(e) Selfish, or violent, behavior
(f) Depression or confusion in the mental component
The manufacturer, who is neither liable or at fault for this defect, is providing factory authorized repair and service, free of charge, to correct this SIN defect, at numerous locations throughout the world. The number to call for the recall station in your area is: P-R-A-Y-E-R

WARNING: Continuing to operate the human unit without correction voids manufacturer's warranty, exposing owner to dangers and problems too numerous to list, and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded. For free emergency service, kneel and call on the name of J-E-S-U-S for prompt assistance at any location worldwide.

The importance of vision is stated in the Proverbs: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18). A major reason why our nation, this world and even parts of the church are foundering is because it has no vision. Where there is vision, there is usually the wrong vision. We need God’s vision to flourish. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We need to ask a definitive question first.

What is vision? The Hebrew term used in Ezekiel 1:1 to translate “vision” is marah which means literally, a vision, a mirror, or looking glass. Based on this term’s definition, the visions viewed by Ezekiel in this book were like observations made in a heavenly mirror or looking glass. God revealed through the use of visions the spiritual implications of Ezekiel’s immediate as well as future historical and personal circumstances.

Later in the book of Ezekiel a different term is used to refer to vision:

Ezekiel 12:22-25 - “Son of man, what is this proverb that you people have about the land of Israel, which says, ‘The days are prolonged, and every vision fails’?23 “Tell them therefore, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “I will lay this proverb to rest, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel.” But say to them, “The days are at hand, and the fulfillment of every vision.24 “For no more shall there be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel.25 “For I am the LORD. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed; for in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it,” says the Lord GOD.’ ”

In these verses the term “vision” is a translation of the Hebrew word chazon which also is generally translated, “vision.” This term does not appear before 1 Samuel and is predominantly seen in prophetic books. Chazon is a word used almost exclusively to refer to divine revelation or communication; a message received by prophetic vision; and that which is essential to the survival of a people (Proverbs 29:18). This word also can refer to that which is received by and written down by a prophet as in the case of Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1). Based on the above portion of scripture we see that the people of God had been given false visions or visions that were not from God and this led them in part to their captive state of affairs.

A vision therefore, is a supernatural enablement, communication, or revelation from God to see the spiritual significance in life and history. A God sent vision helps us see the will of God whether in the present, past or future. The vision God provides is the ability to see into the spiritual realm, and the ability to have spiritual insight that a person would not normally have in their own ability. This vision provided by God motivates and ignites within the recipient, a desire to fulfill, proclaim and be a part of God’s divine plan revealed by the vision. When God gives a vision to a person, He is saying, “That is what I desire to do; this is when and how I will do it.” We need vision from God to direct our paths and lead us to the throne of His grace. The vision of God to man is essential to man’s survival.

In the book of 2 Kings Chapter 6 the Syrian Army came up against Israel during the prophetic ministry of Elisha. At one point in the battle Elisha’s servant awoke to see the city of Jerusalem surrounded by the Syrians. Quickly he runs to Elisha to give him the news. Elisha is settled and confident in the face of this danger because of his spiritual vision. He prays for the servant to receive the same spiritual vision. The following is an excerpt from this account:

2 Kings 6:15-17 – “And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

Now I do not mean to imply that if we pray to God He will always give us a vision like the one this servant received. He may, but He may not. The point I do want to make is that God will give us spiritual vision in that He will enable us to see the hidden spiritual battle taking place around us. God will enable us to see the spiritual significance of our everyday circumstances of life and ministry. He will give us vision of what His overall plan is for a situation, area, or circumstance of life. That spiritual insight comes from the vision of God.

William Carey was born in 1761 to poor parents. At a young age he learned the trade of a cobbler. He had an interest in world geography and foreign languages. At age 18 he went into the ministry being called by God from work on the soles of shoes to work on the souls of men. Carey had the heart of a missionary. On May 31st, 1792, he preached a landmark sermon from Isaiah. His text was Isaiah 54:2-3:

Isaiah 54:2-3 - “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your stakes.3 For you shall expand to the right and to the left, And your descendants will inherit the nations, And make the desolate cities inhabited.”

During the course of his sermon he coined the phrase that would ignite a worldwide mission’s movement that would eventually earn him the title, “The father of modern missions.” The phrase that ignited the movement encapsulates the meaning of being driven by the vision of God. That phrase was: “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” When we talk about being driven by the vision of God that is what we mean!

What is your source of vision? Is it God and His word or the world or some other resource? We need God’s vision to cut through the fog of this world and its views. We need God’s vision to see clearly. That’s why we should seek to be driven by God’s vision.

1 comment:

  1. Live televised Debate : Has the Church replaced Israel ?
    Place : Revelation TV London UK in front of a studio audience
    Date : November 9th 2011
    Time : 9 pm to 10:30 pm UK time { please adjust for local time } broadcast live via SKY TV in Europe and live streaming worldwide at this link :

    Participants : Calvin L Smith & Stephen Sizer
    Defending the position that the nation of Israel as it exists since 1948 still has a place in end time Biblical prophecy will be Calvin Smith principal of Kings Evangelical Divinity School

    Opposing this and giving a different Biblical view on Israel and the Church will be Stephen Sizer who is vicar of Christ Church Virginia Water Surrey UK and founding member of the Institute for the Study of Christian Zionism .
    E mail & text comments / questions will be intermittently read out during the programme .

    Note : Viewers in USA with a ROKU BOX can now watch Revelation TV and so view the debate through this medium .

    Revelation TV is the most popular UK Christian television station

    Dr Calvin L. Smith

    Dr Calvin L Smith is principal of Kings Evangelical Divinity School , editor of the evangelical review of society and politics , author of numerous books including The Jews modern Israel and the new supercessionism . He lectures in theology and hermeneutics . He is an academic researcher conference and Church speaker .

    Stephen Sizer

    Stephen Sizer is senior pastor of Christ Church , the community church of Virginia
    Water in Surrey UK . He is a founding member of (ISCZ) Institute for the study of
    Christian Zionism . He is a member of the advisory council of evangelicals for
    middle east understanding . He co authored the Jerusalem declaration on Christian
    Zionism signed by the heads of Churches in Jerusalem . He has an extensive
    international ministry teaching regularly in Churches , seminaries and universities in
    the USA , Africa , Europe and the Middle East .