For many years this proverb has been misinterpreted, probably because the KJV translates it “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” What we typically hear preached from this verse is that a church must have a long-term goal and plan if they wish to thrive rather than perish. That may be good advice, but that’s not the meaning of this proverb.
The word vision does not refer to one’s ability to formulate future goals and plans, but is a synonym for the prophetic word which comes from God’s prophets.
“Perish” has also been misunderstood. It’s not referring to churches that will cease to exist if they don’t have a vision, or to the spiritual perishing of unbelievers who will perish in hell if the church does not get a vision for the lost. The word means “to cast off all restraint.” The point of the Proverb, then, is that when there is no prophetic word from God to guide the people, they will cast off all moral restraint and follow their own evil devices.
Keep it in context….