"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." I Timothy 3:15
Signs of the Times
Christian News, July 10, 1995
Edward Gibbon was an historian who poured his life into an 8-volume opus entitled,
THE RISE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE.
Gibbon made the point that nations do not stand still. They rise and fall along with
the ebb and flow of events. His perception of Rome has been widely quoted: the fall
of the Empire finally came, not from forces
without, but from moral decay within.
The same pattern appears in the fortunes of Israel in the Old Testament: a gradual
downhill decline from the days of David into oblivion.
Their collapses also came, not so much from external pressures, but by “doing that
which was evil in the sight of the Lord”.
One wonders: On which side of the slope is America? Is our nation still on “the rise”?
Or has she peaked and is now on the decline?
Sometimes it’s hard to tell because Americans, along with the rest of the human race,
have always been a lusty, devious and uproarious bunch.
Young people have not lived long enough to notice change. A teenager today might
think the O. J. Simpson trial is typical of our justice system.
He wouldn’t know that Elvis, say, differs from Madonna, or “Alice in Chains” with
pictures of dead girls, or rap lyrics about rape and murder.
Or contrast the cuss word at the end of Gone With the Wind to the non-stop profanity
of Natural Born Killers or Fatal Attraction.
Or see that an old TV episode of Ozzie and Harriet is worlds apart from a contemporary
segment of Roseanne.
Older folks know that our culture has changed.
Ethical standards in the workplace, in schools and homes, simply are not what they
used to be. But that is not the point.
It is the plumb line, suspended from the throne of God, by which deviations can be
St. Paul himself lived in the Roman Empire and foresaw “terrible times in the last
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be
lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to
parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers,
incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded,
lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. II Tim. 3:1-4.
By that eternal standard nations rise or fall, and by that plumb line we can see
the mis-alignments in our own lives, and God helping us, correct them!