Cycles of Civilization

 In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, said: “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.” Tyler went on to point out that “The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequences:

        From bondage to spiritual faith;
        From spiritual faith to great courage;
        From courage to liberty;
        From liberty to abundance;
        From abundance to complacency;
        From complacency to apathy;
        From apathy to dependence;
        From dependence back to bondage.”
     If you know your Bible, that sequence should remind you of a particular book that describes a very similar cycle in the history of Israel. The book of Judges is “the book of cycles” describing the dark ages of Israel’s history, the 350 years of national deterioration following the death of Joshua. In spite of God’s persistent commands and Joshua’s persistent warnings, the people chose to accommodate rather than annihilate the Canaanites, thereby surrounding themselves with godless and immoral influences. Because of Israel’s compromising attitude, God allows neighboring powers to test Israel by war to find out if they would obey the commandments of the LORD (Judges 3:1-4). Failing these tests, Israel settles down into a downward spiral spiritually, politically and morally.  Judges takes its name from the Spirit-appointed military leaders the LORD raised up to deliver the nation during the dark ages of declension and apostasy with no central government, only a loose confederacy around the central shrine at Shiloh. During that period there were seven cycles of Sin, Servitude, Supplication, Salvation and Silence, or Disobedience, Discipline, Desperation, and Deliverance. The final verse of the book of Judges appropriately summarizes this period of Israel’s history: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25…repeated in 17:6; 18:1 and 19:1).
     When you look at the history of our own nation, born in 1776, going on 238 years, you see a very similar trend. Our forefathers left England looking for religious freedom. They tried Holland, but didn’t find it there so came to North America where they established themselves but still had to fight to free themselves from the dictates of Great Britain. They finally broke free and founded a new nation, the United States of America, writing powerful documents to guarantee the rights and freedoms of individuals living in this great nation. They established a check-and-balance system of government in an attempt to perpetuate these freedoms. Our founding documents were based on both Scriptures and principles from the Bible, the Word of God. The spiritual faith of our leaders provided great courage which brought about liberty. But, as Alexander Tyler observed, in a democracy, that liberty leads to abundance, which it did. We became the greatest, most powerful nation on earth, helping out much of the world in their struggle for survival. We also sent missionaries to bring the Good News of the Gospel, that not only would people’s physical needs be met, but also their spiritual. But that abundance has led to complacency and then to apathy. (A church sign: “Apathy is our most serious problem–but who cares.”) 
     We began to reject God’s Word as the absolute standard for faith and practice. This turned morality upside down and we became like those addressed by Isaiah, the prophet: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness…” (Isa. 5:20). Sins spoken of in the Bible became just “alternate lifestyle choices” and must be accepted as normal.  Our leaders and law makers began to eliminate the Bible and prayer from public places. Even symbols of Christianity, such as crosses and nativity scenes, or the Ten Commandments were forbidden to be displayed publicly. Our military personnel were forbidden to share their faith or even openly display a Bible!   Instead there came a demand for tolerance and political correctness. We must not offend anyone of a different faith or a different lifestyle or different values. The natural result of the demand for tolerance is hostility and persecution towards “intolerance.”  Such displays of “Intolerance”  are even called “Hate Crimes.”   (By the way, this is the same sequence that took place in Germany when Hitler rose to power!)  
     Week after week we hear of some new, outlandish, discrimination against Christians because they dare to adhere to the Word of God and not deviate from what God Himself calls sin. Articulate that truth in the marketplace of ideas, and it just might cost you your job, or your business (and someday soon, imprisonment).  As an example is the story of former NFL quarterback for the New England Patriots, Craig James who got “sacked” from his job at Fox Sports–after just one day on the job–because he dared to declare a biblical truth about marriage and homosexuality.  I also noticed that in today’s headlines is another well-known sport’s figure, boxer Evander Holyfield, a committed Christian, who is being chastised for saying publicly that being gay is a “choice.”   We are witnessing the new “acceptable” form of discrimination. If you are a Christian who believes what God has said regarding marriage, then you are deemed to be a bigot or worse, a hater. But more than the label of bigotry, intolerance, and hatred, Christians are being fined, losing their jobs or facing court-martials because of what they believe. This is a dangerous new low for our country and the freedom to believe what you want to believe. 
     As you consider where the United States is in the cyclical pattern of democracies, pray that God will grant mercy and bring a revival to the church and repentance to our nation that we might once again be a lighthouse of truth in the dark world of sin and suffering. God can only bless our nation–as He has in the past–if we are “One nation under God.”  (“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD”… Psa. 33:12).
                                                                                                Forever His,
                                                                                                    Pastor Dave

About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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