Perhaps you have read as have I that the world’s great civilizations have had life spans of about 200 years, progressing in a sequence of (1) moving from bondage to spiritual faith; (2) from spiritual faith to courage; (3) from courage to liberty; (4) from liberty to abundance; (5) from abundance to selfishness; (6) from selfishness to complacency; (7) from complacency to apathy; (8) from apathy to dependence; (9) from dependence back again to bondage.
120 years or so after God allowed the northern 10 tribes of Israel to be taken captive by Assyria, He had to severely discipline his beloved tribes of Benjamin and Judah, the southern kingdom, and their capital, Jerusalem, using the unyielding rod of correction that His instrument, the Babylonians, mercilessly meted out. He tells them exactly why He had to deal with them so harshly and the primary reason was that their sins dwarfed the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah and the sins of the northern kingdom of Israel before their captivity in 722 B.C. (See Ezekiel 16:44-59) Those sins were:
- Pride Unbridled. Solomon said that seven things were an abomination to God and first on the list was a “proud look.” Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation…but we have forgotten God. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”
- Prosperity Unparalled. We are so prosperous that we can afford to lose 116 billion dollars in gambling in one year (2016) and in 2020 we were able to shell out 99 billion dollars for pet care in these United States (food, vets, etc.) Teddy Roosevelt warned that the things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price; safety first instead of duty first; the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life. Daniel Webster exhorted that “if we abide by the principles taught in the Bible our country will go on prospering; but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity.”
- Unprofitable Idleness. Millions of Americans are alcoholics, twenty-five percent of whom are teens; 10% plus of our population live on tranquilizers; almost half of the marriages in this land founded upon a belief in God end in divorce; there are 1.5 unwed pregnancies each year, and suicide is the third leading cause of death of teens in America annually. George Washington: “Almighty God, who has given us this good heritage, we humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord and confusion; from pride and arrogance and every evil way. In time of prosperity fill our heart with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble suffer not our trust in Thee to fail.”
- Ungodly Selfishness. Tom Anderson once wrote that loss of faith in God is our nation’s most serious problem. He said that when men lose God they turn to the state; they compromise, appease, lie, steal, and make war. “Unless we can recapture our Christian spirit and reestablish our Christian values, we will one day lose our freedom of choice…the question may become not whether America can be saved but whether America is worth saving.”
- Unspeakable Abominations. America’s Queen of Opera Beverly Sills said that violence and explicit sex in the arts were making the world uglier. The sins a loving God laid at the door step of His beloved nation of Judah which brought His awful judgment upon them as it had come upon Sodom and Gomorrah are sins embraced by America’s general population at this present hour. The nation whose God is the Lord is blessed, but it is problematic that we can claim today to be a nation whose God is the Lord.
In 1787, after 20 years of work, Edward Gibbons completed his masterful book “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” in which he identified five reasons for the fall of that once great world power: (1) The rapid increase of divorce and the undermining of the dignity and sanctify of the home; (2) Higher and higher taxes and the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace; (3) The mad craze for pleasure…sports becoming more exciting and attracting to the masses; (4) The building of gigantic armaments when the real enemy was within; (5) A decaying of religion, falling into mere form and becoming impotent to guide people. The Roman Empire was not conquered, it collapsed.
Rudyard’s Kipling’s words about the once great British Empire that ruled the world are haunting: “The tumult and the shouting dies. The Captain and the Kings depart. Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice, a humble and a contrite heart. LORD GOD OF HOSTS, BE WITH US YET; LEST WE FORGET, LEST WE FORGET.”
“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” (Psalms 9:17)