All this is but an emphasis upon the place of vision. It may not get yo very far; you may wonder what it all leads to. You are saying now, 'Well, what is the vision?' That is not the point at the moment; that can come later. The point is that that is the necessity, the absolute necessity, for the Church today - for you, for me; and let me say at once that, while it is preeminently a corporate thing - that is, it is something which is to be in a people, even though that people be but a remnant, a small number among all the people of God - while preeminently a corporate thing, it must also be personal. You and I individually must be in the place where we can say, 'I have seen, I know what God is after!'
If we were asked why the Church is as it is today, in so large a measure of impotence and disintegration, and what is needed, to bring about an impact from heaven by means of the Church, could we say? Is it presumption to claim to be able to do that? The prophets knew; and remember that the prophets, whether they were of the Old Testament or of the New Testament, were not an isolated class of people, they were not some body apart, holding this in themselves officially. They were the very eyes of the body. They were, in the thought of God, the people of God. You know that principle; it is seen, for instance, in the matter of the High Priest. God looks upon the one High Priest as Israel, and deals with all Israel on the ground of the condition of the high Priest, whether it be good or bad. If the High Priest is bad - "And he showed me Joshua the high priest ... clothed with filthy garments" (Zechariah 3:1-5) - that is Israel. God deals with Israel as one man.
The prophet is the same; and that is why the prophet was so interwoven with the very condition and life of the people. Listen to the Prophet Daniel praying. Personally he was not guilty; personally he had not sinned as the nation had sinned; but he took it all on himself and spoke as though it were his responsibility, as if he ware the chief of sinners. These men were brought right into it. There is such a oneness between the prophets and the people in condition, in experience, in suffering, that they can never view themselves as officials apart from all that, as it were talking to it from the outside; they are in it, they are it.
My meaning is this, that we are not to have vision brought to us by a class called ministers, prophets and apostles. There are here only to keep us alive to what we ought to be before God, how we ought to be; constantly stirring us up and saying, 'Look here, this is what you ought to be.' It ought therefore to be, with every one of us personally, that we are in the meaning of this prophetic ministry. The Church is called to be a prophet to the nations. May I repeat my inquiry - it is a permissible question without admitting of any presumption - could you interpret the state of things, and explain truly by what the Lord has shown you in your own heart? I know the peril and dangers that may surround such an idea, but that is the very meaning of our existence. It will be in greater or lesser degree in every one of us, but, either more or less, we have the key to the situation God needs people of that sort. It must be individual.
Vision Calls for Courage
But remember it will call for immense courage. Oh, the courage of these prophets! - courage as over against compromise and policy. Oh, the ruinous effects of policy, of secondary considerations! 'How will it affect our opportunities if we are so definite? Will it not lessen our opportunities of serving the Lord if we take such a position?' That is policy, and it is a ruinous thing. Many a man who has seen something, and has begun to speak about what he has seen has found sch a reaction from his own brethren and among those where his responsibility lay, that he has drawn back. 'It is dangerous to purse that any further.' Policy! No, there was nothing of that about the prophets. Are we committed because we have seen?
There will be cost; we may as well face it. There is a little fragment in Hebrews 9 - "They were sawn asunder." A tradition says that that applied to the Prophet Isaiah - that he was the one who was sawn asunder. Read Isaiah 53. There is nothing more sublime in all the literature of the Bible, and for that h was sawn asunder. Was he right? Well we today stand on the ground, and in the good, of his righteousness. But the devil does not like that, and so Isaiah was sawn asunder. There are tremendous values bound up with seeing, and with uncompromising abandonment to the vision, but there is very great cost also.
We will leave it there for the time being; but we must have dealings with the Lord and say, 'How much have I seen? After all I have heard of the prophets week by week, after all the conventions, the conferences, the meetings I have been attending, have I heard the voice of the prophets at all? I have heard the speakers give their messages and addresses: have I heard the voice?' The effect will be far-reaching if we have. If we have not, it is time we got to the Lord about it. This must not go on! What happened in Acts 13: Hearing they did not hear; but where there was a hearing, oh, what tremendous things happened, what tremendous values came!
(continued with # 1 - "A Vision That Constitutes a Vocation")