Next Thursday, our nation will celebrate its 243rd birthday complete with parades, speeches, and fireworks. A country with as long and rich a history as ours should recognize its founding and honor its founders.

As we pause to ponder the past 243 years, it’s also important to look ahead at where we are headed. With such political strife and division, there is much need for prayer and wisdom to unite our people around shared values and goals.

One of the oft-quoted Bible verses is Proverbs 29:18, part of which tells us in the King James Version, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” This passage is cited as a reminder for setting and striving for national goals that might prevent our citizens from languishing aimlessly.

While it is vitally important to set and work toward lofty goals, the Amplified Bible helps us understand that the word “vision” in this verse refers not to shared goals, but to the “redemptive revelation of God.” This indicates that this particular passage has less to do with goal setting and more to do with hearing from God regarding his will and his ways and our willingness to follow them.

The New International Version tells us, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint…” Sadly, this describes the state of much of American culture today. Because God’s word and revelation are not being proclaimed and honored, our citizens are casting off restraint and engaging in lawless activities that endanger us all.

While law enforcement officers do excellent work to keep us safe, our domestic tranquility depends more on personal responsibility to know and do right than on heavy-handed police. We are to honor one another even if we don’t agree. We are to respect others’ rights and property and desire their prosperity whether they have much or little.

These very ideals are gleaned from the Bible, which tells us to treat others as we want to be treated and to not kill, steal, or lie. Because the Bible is discounted and dismissed today, the values and guidelines it teaches are also being ignored. As a result, many are casting off restraint and doing as the author of Judges described in his day when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” How desperately we need God’s redemptive revelation proclaimed and followed in the USA.

Even more informative is in the rest of Proverbs 29:18 which is usually omitted whenever this verse is referenced. The Amplified Bible says, “…but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man] — blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he.” The complete verse reminds us that keeping God’s laws leads to happiness and blessing. Most all Americans want happiness and blessing, but fewer and fewer know how to receive them and even fewer are willing to keep God’s laws in order to receive them.

While it’s great that our currency, coins, and license plates proclaim, “In God we trust,” it’s even more vital that our lives reveal our individual and collective obedience of his statutes. God cannot bless individuals or nations who willfully disobey him.

As our nation celebrates another annual milestone in our collective journey together, let’s not neglect to seek the blessing of God by obeying his directives. And if that is to happen, we must know what they are, which underscores the importance of reading, hearing, and meditating on the Bible. I pray that our nation might seek God’s revelation and vision for the USA and obey his word that we might be blessed, happy, and fortunate, and the envy of all. Blessings, George

George Bowers Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored thirteen books including Holy Land Verses which is available at Four Star Printing and Shenandoah Stuff. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at gabowers@shentel.net.