I have been thinking about our failure to heed the lessons that history teaches us. When you take the time to examine our beginnings, you find God being referenced repeatedly as a source of strength, truth, and guidance. Our leadership purported to lean heavily on the teachings found in the Scriptures in those days. Today, we still find a majority of our people who say they believe in God, but don’t adhere to His commandments, or accept God for who He is — virtually ignoring Him altogether.
And, so it was in the days of the Roman Empire, and many empires that went before. The apostle Paul, writing to the church in Rome, addressed the unrighteousness of the Gentiles in Rom. 1:18-32. He pointed out their rejection of God; declaring that they knew of God through creation, and yet they turned their backs on Him. They failed to acknowledge Him and to give thanks for His providence. They thought they were wise in their own thinking, but were really fools. In their foolishness they turned to the worship of idols (vs. 18-23).
Since they chose to reject God, He turned His back on them and gave them over to their depravity. In God’s permissive will, He allows us to make bad decisions, but we are called to live according to His higher standard. Obviously we don’t always do that — do we?
The Romans worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator. He allowed them to pursue their depraved thinking, as they engaged in all kinds of debauchery. The list is lengthy, but included things like envy, murder, strife, deceit, gossip, slandering, hating God, insolence, arrogance, disobeying parents, ruthlessness, etc. Anyone who does such things is deeply in debt to Justice — and the fine is steep. It’s one thing to willingly continue in a life of unrepentant evil, but these Romans went ever further — openly approving of others who did likewise (vs. 28-32). It all sounds a little too familiar.
The Roman Empire collapsed largely from within. There certainly were external factors that contributed to its downfall, but the fall came primarily from their foolish thinking. As the old saying goes, when you play with fire, you’re likely to get burned.