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Nations rise and fall

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Nations, kingdoms and empires come and go. The new nation of South Sudan just came into existence in Africa on July 9, 2011. Will it be like so many other nations over time that have come and gone? Why do nations rise and fall? Is there a reason?

There was at one time a Babylonian Empire. There were Assyrian, Macedonian, Aztec, Mayan and Incan Empires. These, like the empires of Carthage and Parthia, are also history. In more recent centuries, the sun did set on the British Empire. In 1991, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics broke into fifteen countries. Human history is filled with nations and empires that once rose to prominence, flourished—and then fell. Many of these nations have ceased to exist except as archaeological sites and chapters in history books. A quick survey of history shows how many empires have been broken into pieces, divided, regrouped or renamed.

Edward Gibbon, an English historian, wrote the famous book, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, published in six volumes from 1776 to 1789. His methodology of documenting and footnoting his researched references made his work a model for historians.

Gibbon offered his theories for why the Roman Empire fell. Other historians who followed have offered their own theories to explain the decline of Rome and other nations. Some common reasons for the decline of nations include: constant wars and heavy military spending; over-extending, fighting on too many fronts; political corruption; a divided, factious government; a failing economy; a devalued currency; unemployment due to outsourcing, unrestricted trade and cheap, foreign labor; the working class forced to rely on government subsides; a massive divide between the rich and the poor; the gradual loss of civic virtue; an increase in divorce and the breakdown of the family unit; and promiscuous sexual behavior and a decline in morals.

Some of these reasons sound eerily familiar to our modern-day nations. Indeed, many people have made uncomfortable comparisons of prior nations to our own. These people see the "handwriting on the wall," a metaphor for impending doom right out of the pages of the Bible. They express serious concern that the Western nations—especially the United States and the other British-descended nations—are in danger of falling, much like ancient Rome.

Like the Roman Empire, the U.S. currently enjoys superior military strength, with bases all around the world. The U.S. has some of the most technologically advanced military equipment available. Ultimately, it is the only remaining superpower—for now. However, just like ancient Rome, the nation’s military budget is enormous. Like Rome, its borders are not secure, and increasing numbers of immigrants are not assimilating into American culture. Much as Rome had its "bread and circuses," the U.S. has a budget burdened with subsidies for its citizens’ food, medical and other assistance. All of this is causing escalating financial stress. In addition, like Rome, America’s morality continues on a steep downward slide.

It is scary to think about America failing! Can we imagine how our world would change? How quickly would America’s fall cause a "domino effect" leading to the fall of other overstretched nations? Would the "good life" be gone? No more eating out at restaurants or ordering a pizza? No more professional sports and music events? Would we be able to afford groceries? Would gasoline be rationed? Would we be able to afford our mortgage or our rent? Would we face riots in our streets? What kinds of new governments would form—or would anarchy prevail?

The Almighty God in heaven determines which nations will rise and which will fall. We need to know what He says is going to happen. Read our powerful articles "Rise and Fall of Nations" and "The Handwriting Is on the Wall" for further perspective on this sobering topic, and if you have not already done so, request your free copy of our booklet, The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy.