Matthew 18:16: In the mouth of two or three witnesses, let every word be established.Bernard Shaw: We learn from history that we learn nothing from history. George Santayana: Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. George Wilhelm Hegel: What experience and history teach is this that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles. History repeats itself. In the year 9, Quintillius Varus ignored warnings and underestimated the enemy, and he was destroyed by "savages." In the year 1876, George Armstrong Custer ignored warnings and underestimated the enemy, and he was destroyed by "savages." In 1812 invaded Russia while still at war with Great Britain, contributing to his downfall. In 1941 invaded Russia while still at war with Great Britain, contributing to his downfall. In 408 the Western Roman had his Master of Soldiers executed, which allowed Visigoths to sack the city of Rome two years later. In 454 another Western Roman Emperor murdered his Master of Soldiers which allowed Vandals to sack the city of Rome in the following year. History has shown that the average age of the great civilizations is around two hundred years. Countries like Great Britain exceed the average while other countries like the United States have now passed the average age. Each of the great civilizations in the world passed through a series of stages from their birth to their decline to their death. Historians have listed these in ten stages. The first stage moves from bondage to spiritual faith. The second from spiritual faith to great courage. The third stage moves from great courage to liberty. The fourth stage moves from liberty to abundance. The fifth stage moves from abundance to selfishness. The sixth stage moves from selfishness to complacency. The seventh stage moves from complacency to apathy. The eighth stage moves from apathy to moral decay. The ninth stage moves from moral decay to dependence. And the tenth and last stage moves from dependence to bondage. These are the ten stages by which the great civilizations have come and have gone. Notice the progression from bondage to liberty back to bondage. The first generation throws off the shackles of bondage only to have a later generation through apathy and indifference allow itself to once again be enslaved. This is the direction this and every other country is headed. The book of Judges shows that the nation of Israel passed through these same stages. And this country will do the same unless there is a revival or reform to reverse the inexorable decline of this nation. Nations almost always fall from within and this fall is usually due to a decline in the moral and spiritual values in the family. As families go, so goes a nation. This has been the main premise of thinkers from British historian J. D. Unwin to Russian sociologist Pitirim Sorokin who have studied civilizations that have collapsed. In his book Our Dance Has Turned to Death, identifies the common pattern of family decline in ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. Notice how these seven stages parallel what is happening in our nation today. In the first stage, men ceased to lead their families in worship. Spiritual and moral development became secondary. Their view of God became naturalistic, mathematical, and mechanical. In the second stage, men selfishly neglected care of their wives and children to pursue material wealth, political and military power, and cultural development. Material values began to dominate thought, and the man began to exalt his own role as an individual. The third stage involved a change in men's sexual values. Men who were preoccupied with business or war either neglected their wives sexually or became involved with lower-class women or with homosexuality. Ultimately, a double standard of morality developed. The fourth stage affected women. The role of women at home and with children lost value and status. Women were neglected and their roles devalued. Soon they revolted to gain access to material wealth and also freedom for sex outside marriage. Women also began to minimize having sex relations to conceive children, and the emphasis became sex for pleasure. Marriage laws were changed to make divorce easy. In the fifth stage, husbands and wives competed against each other for money, home leadership, and the affection of their children. This resulted in hostility and frustration and possible homosexuality in the children. Many marriages ended in separation and divorce. Many children were unwanted, aborted, abandoned, molested, and undisciplined. The more undisciplined children became, the more social pressure there was not to have children. The breakdown of the home produced anarchy. In the sixth stage, selfish individualism grew and carried over into society, fragmenting it into smaller and smaller group loyalties. The nation was thus weakened by internal conflict. The decrease in the birthrate produced an older population that had less ability to defend itself and less will to do so, making the nation more vulnerable to its enemies. Finally, unbelief in God became more complete, parental authority diminished, and ethical and moral principles disappeared, affecting the economy and government. Thus, by internal weakness and fragmentation the societies came apart. There was no way to save them except by a dictator who arose from within or by barbarians who invaded from without. Although this is an ancient pattern of decline found in Greece and Rome, it is relevant today. Families are the foundation of a nation. When the family crumbles, the nation falls because nations are built upon family units. They are the true driving social force. A nation will not be strong unless the family is strong. That was true in the ancient world and it is true today. Historians have listed the stages in the decline of a nation. These should not be too surprising to any student of the Old Testament. The stages of decline parallel the stages through which the nation of Israel passed. But neither should they surprise a student of the New Testament. In the opening chapter of the Apostle Paul's letter to the church in Rome, he traces a similar progression. In fact, Romans 1 shows the decline of a civilization from a societal perspective. Looking at the Hellenistic world of his time, he reflects on the progression of sin in a nation. The first stage is when people turn from God to idolatry. Although God has revealed Himself in nature to all men so that they are without excuse yet instead they worship the creation instead of the Creator. This is idolatry. In the past, this took the form of actual idol worship. In our day, it takes the form of the worship of money or the worship of self. Either way it's idolatry. A further example of this is a general lack of thankfulness. Although they have been prospered by God, they are ungrateful. And when they are no longer looking to God for wisdom and guidance, they become vain and futile and empty in their imaginations. They no longer honor God, so their foolish hearts become darkened. In professing to be wise, they have become fools. The second stage is when men and women exchange their natural use of sex for unnatural uses. Here the Apostle Paul says those four sobering words, "God gave them over." In a society where lust- driven sensuality and sexual perversion dominate, God gives them over to their degrading passions and unnatural desires. The third stage is anarchy. Once a society has rejected God's revelation, it is on its own. Moral and social anarchy is the natural result. At this point God has given the sinners over to a depraved mind and they will do acts that are not proper nor prosper them. This results in a society which is without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. The final stage is judgment. God's judgment rightly falls upon those who practice idolatry and immorality. Certainly an eternal judgment awaits those who are guilty, but a social judgment occurs when God gives a nation over to its sinful practices. Notice that this progression is not unique to the Hellenistic world that the Apostle Paul in. The progression from idolatry to sexual perversion to anarchy to judgment is found throughout history. During Noah's and Lot's time there was idolatry, greed, sexual perversions and promiscuity along with anarchy coupled with violence. The result was judgment from the Holy One. Throughout the history of the nation of Israel there was idolatry, sexual perversion, anarchy (in which each person did what was right in his own eyes), and finally judgment. This progression happened in Greece, Babylon, and Rome. And if it happened to these nations it certainly will happen again. And unless we return to God's principles, decline and destruction are inevitable.