The “Unseen Hand” in History
There is yet another major factor in the rise and fall of nations and empires that has not been told. Modern man, including most historians, has largely overlooked or been ignorant of this primary factor! Many reject it, repudiate it, and ridicule it. Yet, you can prove it true!
Many students, who have studied nations and empires, including Rome, have searched the records and have come up with one or many causes for the decline of those nations and empires. So far, in covering the Roman Empire in the West, we have basically shown the reasons for Rome’s decline.
There were largely internal weakness, perpetuated by the folly and carelessness of the Romans themselves.
But why did Rome “fall” when it did? Why did the barbarians invade the Empire and gain dominance when they did? Why at that time and not earlier, or later? Was it all just happenstance?
Again, why did any major empire or nation of note in history collapse when it did? Sometimes this is perplexing to those who study history. Even the noted Roman historian Edward Gibbon marveled that Rome lasted as long as it did, despite her many severe problems.
Severe deterioration in the major underpinnings of a nation does not automatically guarantee immediate national collapse and conquest by aggressors. Nations and empires have gone on stewing in their own corruption for remarkable periods of time, but eventually they were destroyed.
The Roman Empire, with all its weaknesses, could possibly have fallen long before it did – or even gone on longer than it did -- but it didn’t. Why? One who claims to be God says there is a reason. He emphatically says that the rise and fall of empires is not by accident.
Did you realize that the Roman Empire was predicted to rise long before it did? Did you also know that its eventual dominance by the barbarians was also forecast 1000 years before it occurred?
Did you know that the same can be said for the rise and fall of Babylon, Persia, the Greco-Macedonian Empire, Egypt and many other powerful empires and nations, including the United States and Britain? Surprising? The biblical record is there for all to see. You can prove it for yourself.
God proclaims only He can guarantee what will be performed: “Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them” (Isa. 42:9).
This Supreme Power also charges man with foolishness and ignorance of a basic fact: “Have ye not known? Have ye not heard? Hath it not been told you from the beginning? Have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he that sitteth upon (above) the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers. That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity” (Isa. 40:21-23).
Again, in Daniel 4:17, God – the “unseen Hand in history” – explains that He “ruleth in the kingdoms of men, and gives it to whomsoever he will, and sets up over it the basest of men.”
The history of mankind has been a horrible chronicle of war, suffering, heartache, fear and death! The history of Rome is only another chapter continuing the same story. History repeats itself again and again with slightly varying forms, modified by national temperament and technological developments.
The fruits of human behavior – strife, envy, jealousy, hatred, vanity, pride and prejudice-- have run rampant both within and among nations. The record of history is not encouraging. Something is horribly missing in the mind of man!
The natural mind of man has led him to do insane things in the name of human “progress.”
The Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans each had their chance at world dominion. Each, in turn, left a bloody trail of suffering and depravity as they tried to make the world over in their own image.
The story continues in the 21st century. It fills the newspapers, radio, and television and the internet. Only today mankind is threatening himself with genocide, and the weapons of his Armageddon are spreading to many nations.
God says He is man’s Creator. And that He has permitted man to make his own choices – to follow a course of action that seems best to him-- to prove that man’s ways end in suffering, war and death. Man has been allowed to prove, individually and nationally, that he cannot, apart from God, discover the way to true peace, enduring prosperity, and radiant happiness, a full and meaningful life.
The choice set before mankind contained a promise of fantastic blessings to be heaped upon those who obeyed Him. It was also a warning: “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; in that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deut. 30:15-16, 19).
History is merely the record of mankind making the wrong choices!
The Book that professing Christians claim to take their religion from actually points out that mankind has rejected the right way – obedience to God and His Law – and brought curses upon himself. And humanity has largely ignored the record of past generations and foolishly gone on to make the same mistakes again and again with ever-increasing magnitude, with greater technology, more devastating weapons and with mounting human suffering.
What does the future hold? There is good news! But there is also some bad news.
The Scriptures are full of advance news-- prophecy – some of which has been fulfilled. But other events are scheduled to be fulfilled in our time, in just a few short years from now.
Great cities and nations have had decrees passed on them that no one has been able to alter, critics notwithstanding. Each nation has been allotted enough time to prove how destructive and corrupted its methods are, time to see the end results of its own ways. In a sense, God has given each nation or empire “enough rope to hang itself.” But there comes a time of correction and punishment to each one.
God also foretold the rise to unprecedented greatness, wealth and power of the United States and Britain. But the same God also tells what will eventually happen if those nations reject His rule and disobey His commandments (Lev. 26; Deut. 28)! These prophecies are a frightening appraisal of problems plaguing our modern nations.
Is a person blind that he or she cannot see the growing evil, sickness and violence in our modern societies – the vileness, corruption and depravity in which we wallow? National character continues to disintegrate and degenerate. Our own leaders and men of historical vision have decried the way we are going. Some draw the same parallels to Rome we have shown in these past eight (8) articles.
America, Britain and the Western world, as a whole, have rejected true values and self-restraint; rejected the revelation of God, rejected His laws as revealed in the spirit of the Ten Commandments! This is the law upon which all true goals and values must be based!
Our nations desperately need righteous goals, values and national purpose. God reveals what they are, but we have to want them, God’s way! The nation that turns to God in obedience will be a nation blessed by God – a nation whose God will protect it personally and directly from its God-rejecting enemies. This is the lesson of ancient Israel, whose great victories were wrought by the hand of God.
The United States and Britain were blessed by God with the most bountiful heritage the world has ever known. We didn’t acquire it by our great power alone. Although we think we did. That is part of the problem. It’s been given to us in ways we little recognize.
Abraham Lincoln recognized this fact and expressed it in a presidential proclamation in 1863. He said: “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown; but we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessing were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. 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: It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness. Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views, of the Senate, I do by this proclamation designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. All this being done in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the divine teachings, that the united cry of the nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace.”
Those words from a President of the United States would undoubtedly be ridiculed by this generation. But we would do well to heed the warning. There are promises of national well-being if we do. The question is, will we rise to meet the challenge?
Our peoples today stand on the brink of a disaster greater than Rome’s. We need a national change of spirit NOW – before it’s too late! Before history repeats its agonizing sequence of events on our nations, the Modern Romans.
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (II Chron. 7:14). History reveals that few will heed this warning! The important question for you, the reader, is will you? National change must take place, one individual at a time. Will you do your part?