For YHWH has poured out on you a spirit of deep sleep, and has shut your eyes, the prophets, and He has covered your heads, the seers. Isaiah 29:10
Seers – The word for “seers” is chozim. It comes from a root word chazah. It is not Hebrew. This is an Aramaic loanword. Consequently, trying to understand just what it means is much more difficult. We may be tempted to simply ignore these complications and stick with our best guess. But that won’t do. Why? Because if we do not understand what is involved in this word, we risk not knowing when God removes the role of the seer and what happens as a result. If we don’t put some hard work into trying to grasp the meaning of this strange word, we may find ourselves vulnerable to judgment without even knowing it was coming.
Scholars generally agree that chazah is about “seeing,” but it is not about seeing with the natural eye. Most of the uses of chazah are about prophecy, about “seeing” what is coming. Interestingly, when we examine the occurrences of this word, we discover that “seeing” is not about images. It is about words. A chozen “sees” God’s word. How this happens is not clear. We know that it does not occur as a dream (a visual experience when asleep), but we also know that this experience happens most often at night, or as we see in this verse, in a deep sleep. If we can imagine what it is like to “see” a word from God while asleep but not to have a dream, then we get a picture something like the experience of Samuel when God called him in the middle of the night. That is chazah.
“So what?” you might say. “This is all intellectually interesting, but what difference does it make to me? After all, I am not like Samuel.” You’re right. You and I aren’t like Samuel, but we are dependent on the men God calls as chozim. The commonly quoted verse, “Without a vision, the people fail,” is far more about chozim than it is about productive goal-setting. Notice that Lamentations 2:9 says that judgment and disaster are the direct result of the lack of “vision” from God. If there were ever a time when we (personally and corporately) need God to provide chozim, it is now, before we collapse. The cultural prophets (and even some claiming to be prophets within the church) seem more likely to fit the cry of Jeremiah in Lamentations 2:14. “They have seen for you false and foolish visions that do not expose your iniquity and therefore do not restore you.”
We live in a world without chozim. Oh, we have plenty of visionaries, but their messages are often nothing more than the success structures of a fallen world. They cry, “Prosperity!,” “Power!” and “Significance!.” Our cultural visionaries tell us what we love to hear. They make us feel insuperable, dominant and decisive. We applaud, pumped up for another round in life’s battle for significance. It is our destiny! In this egocentric ethos, it isn’t surprising that we no longer hear the cry of the chozim. They wail “Repent.” That’s not useful. They sound the call for a return to ancient values. That’s not relevant. What the chozim “see” is the hearts of men, and just like the God they serve, they cry “Return!” But no one who believes in “progress” will listen. When God puts a bag over our heads by removing the chozim, judgment is inevitable. With our eyes wide shut, we march toward disaster and think that our leaders will save us. Salvation comes by hearing the word of the chozim. Go find one – if there are any left.
Topical Index: Prophet