Rome’s demise: A lesson to be learned
August 31, 2004
One of the most widely read books of all-time is The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Written in 1788 by Edward Gibbon, the author proposed five basic reasons for the demise of the Roman Empire:
1. The undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis of human society.
2. Higher and higher taxes; the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace.
3. The mad craze for pleasure; sports becoming every year more exciting, more brutal, more immoral.
4. The building of great armaments when the real enemy was within (the decay of individual responsibility).
5. The decay of religion; faith fading into mere form, losing touch with life, losing power to guide the people.
Does it seem obvious that North America is following in the very steps that Gibbon outlines? It is commonly said, “History repeats itself.” From present day trends,
I believe you will agree that our country is going down the same path as the Roman Empire. The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been 200 years. A list detailing the stages which nation’s progress can be traced through the following sequence taken from Gibbon and theologian Theodore Epp in Vol. II of his Study in Revelation:
• From bondage to spiritual faith.
• From spiritual faith to great courage.
• From courage to liberty.
• From liberty to abundance.
• From abundance to selfishness.
• From selfishness to complacency.
• From complacency to apathy.
• From apathy to dependence.
• From dependence back again to bondage.
These insights regarding the cycle of world governments from Gibbon and Epp seem to be a mirror into the soul of America. God has always been at work in the affairs of men and governments. Prophesy has proven His Word to be precisely accurate. When you study the books of the prophets, like Jeremiah, I believe we can see that a nation’s destiny is affected by the relationship its people have to God. Gibbon certainly believed so. Today, America needs flaming prophets in our pulpits who will call a sinful people back to God, through the Lord Jesus.
But forget America as a whole for a moment. What about you? How is your relationship with the person of Jesus Christ? Are you caught in a cycle of decay similar to that of Jeremiah’s Israel or the Roman Empire? If so, can you expect any outcome different than Rome or Israel received?
Take a moment to quietly consider two passages for personal application:
“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him …” (2 Chr. 16:9).
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He chose for His inheritance. … (T)he eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. … (M)ay your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you” (Ps. 33:12,18, 22).