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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
The vision may come in one's waking moments (Daniel 10:7; Acts 9:7 ); by day (Cornelius, Acts 10:3; Peter, Acts 10:9 ff; compare Numbers 24:4 , Numbers 24:16 ) or night (Jacob, Genesis 46:2 ); but commonly under conditions of dreaming (Numbers 12:6; Job 4:13; Daniel 4:9 ). The objects of vision, diverse and in some instances strange as they are, have usually their points of contact with experiences of the daily life. Thus Isaiah's vision of the seraphim (Isaiah 6:2 ) was doubtless suggested by familiar figures used in the decoration of the temple at Jerusalem; Paul's "man of Macedonia" (Acts 16:9 ) had its origin in some poor helot whom Paul had seen on the streets of Troas and who embodied for him the pitiful misery of the regions across the sea; and "Jacob's ladder" (Genesis 28:12 ) was but a fanciful development of the terraced land which he saw sun-glorified before him as he went to sleep. Among the recurring objects of vision are natural objects - rivers, mountains, trees, animals - with which man has daily and hourly association.
The character of the revelation through vision has a double aspect in the Biblical narrative. In one aspect it proposes a revelation for immediate direction, as in the ease of Abram (Genesis 15:2 and frequently); Lot ( Genesis 19:15 ); Balaam (Numbers 22:22 ), and Peter (Acts 12:7 ). In another aspect it deals with the development of the Kingdom of God as conditioned by the moral ideals of the people; such are the prophetic visions of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and Micah, and the apoealypses of Daniel and John. The revelation for immediate direction has many correspondences in the life of the devout in all ages; the prophetic vision, dealing in a penetrating way with the sources of national growth and decay, has its nearest approach in the deliverances of publicists and statesmen who are persuaded that the laws of God, as expressed in self-control, truth, justice, and brotherly love, are supreme, and that the nations which disregard them are marked for ultimate and speedy extinction.
From the nature of the vision as an instrument of divine communication, the seeing of visions is naturally associated with revivals of religion (Ezekiel 12:21-25; Joel 2:28; compare Acts 2:17 ), and the absence of visions with spiritual decline (Isaiah 29:11 , Isaiah 29:12; Lamentations 2:9; Ezekiel 7:26; Micah 3:6 ).
One may see visions without being visionary in the bad sense of that word. The outstanding characters to whom visions were vouchsafed in the history of Israel
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Vision'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/v/vision.html. 1915.