I’m sure there are many of you who have read or heard it proclaimed before: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
It’s a powerful line and one that has been used by many a leader (or leadership consultant) to extol the importance of having a vision and casting it, so that the people you lead will be served.
The source is Proverbs 29:18. Only it isn’t.
No Vision — Or “No Revelation?”
The best translation of the Hebrew for “vision” is actually “revelation.” And it isn’t a reference to a leader’s revelation about what the people should do or be, but rather about the importance of people knowing and following God’s revelation. In its typical Old Testament context, it refers to prophetic revelation given by God, through a prophet, to the people. This revelation can be withheld or refused.
The result? The word “perish” is actually best translated “cast off restraint.” Think of undisciplined children running wild around the house.