The fall of Roman Empire and the end of the Modern World

Edward Gibbon is a historian who lived in the 18c.
His famous book is The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
The book traces Western civilization from the height of the Roman Empire to the fall of Byzantium.
This is a marvelous book that was published after 20 years of labor in six volumes.
The 1st volume was published in 1776 and the 6th volume in 1788–89. 
The work covers the history, from 98 AD to 1590 AD, of the Roman Empire, the history of early Christianity and then of the Roman State Church, and the history of Europe, and discusses the decline of the Roman Empire in the West and East.

 In this book Gibbon cites 5 important reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire.
Since its publication, historians have been obsessed with the rise and fall of Roman Empire.
And many modern historians find parallel events to these causes in the modern world.
The fall of the empire has been valued as an archetype for every perceived decline.
And hence historians are afraid of another fall of the modern era.
This is the central argument of this discussion.
Jesus Christ was born during the time of the Roman Empire; and the Jewish populated area was under the Empire.
Many sayings, dictum and parables spoken by Jesus had the cultural background of Jews and the political background of the Empire.
Jesus was crucified by the Romans is also a crucial fact.
To the merit, a vast geographical area under one Empire gave swift wings to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles during the time.
Trade routes provided ways to reach to the other provinces of the Empire.

It was not accidental that Jesus was born during this particular historical era.
In fact God the creator of the universe was managing every event in the history to the Roman Empire so that Jesus could be born at the right time.

In Galatians 4: 4 we read:
 “ But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,”  (NKJV)

In other words, the time of our Lord's birth was God's appointed hour, the moment for which God had been long preparing.
God rearranged human history for the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ.
Thus Christ’s birth and life took place not accidently somewhere in history but in a prepared historical background.

Roman Empire covered all civilized land of the time.
They had a well organized governing system for all provinces.
They offered peace to the world.
Their emperor, Augustus Caser was considered to be the “son of god” and “savior” of the world.
Tales and praises of his birthday were known as euangelion or “good news”.

It is the wisdom of God that Jesus was born in this particular historical era as the true son of God, the Prince of Peace and the true Savior of humans.
Today Christian all around the world is eagerly waiting for the Second Coming of Jesus as the King of Kings.
The modern world shows signs of decay that Roman Empire had in her last days.
Are we in the last days of our modern world empire?

In this discussion we will be talking about the “silent years”, Roman Empire, the fall of the Empire, 5 reasons for the fall of the Empire and parallels in this modern world.
So let us tart with the “silent years”.

The “silent years”
 The Old Testament stops with the Book of Malachi, around 420 BC.
The New Testament starts with the appearance of John the Baptist in the early 1 century AD.
The period between these two incidents is referred to as the 400 years of silence.
It is believed that God did not speak or revealed anything to the Jewish people for these years.

But God was not inactive during these four hundred "silent" years?
Some of the exciting preparations for the birth of Christ took place during that time of "silence”.

After Malachi had ceased his prophesying the canon of the Old Testament closed.
The number of the books in the Old Testament was fulfilled and the inspired prophets ceased to speak.
God gave Israelites a period of time for reading and teachings of the Old Testament.

At the close of the book of Malachi in the Old Testament, the nation of Israel is back again in the land of Palestine after the Babylonian captivity.
But they are under the domination of the great world power of that day, Persia and the Medio-Persian Empire.
In Jerusalem, the temple had been restored.
Priests according to the Aaronic line were still carrying on the sacred rites as they had been ordered to do by the Law of Moses.
When Malachi ceased his writing the center of world power began to shift from the East to the West.
In 333 B.C., Israel fell to the Greeks, and in 323 B.C. it fell to the Egyptians.
The Jews generally were treated well throughout those reigns, and they adopted the Greek language and many of the Greek customs and manners.
The Old Testament was translated into Greek while they were in the Egypt.
This translation is the Septuagint and there are many quotes from it in the New Testament.

But in 204 BC Antiochus the Great of Syria captured Israel.
After his death, his son Antiochus Epiphanes came to power.
His first act was to depose the high priest in Jerusalem thus ending the long line of succession, beginning with Aaron and his sons.
Onias the Third was the last of the hereditary line of priests.
Antiochus Epiphanes sold the priesthood to Jason, who was not of the priestly line.
Jason, in turn, was tricked by his younger brother Menelaus, who purchased the priesthood and then sold the golden vessels of the temple in order to make up the tribute money.

Epiphanes overthrew the God-authorized line of priests.
Then, and under his reign, the city of Jerusalem and all the religious rites of the Jews began to deteriorate as they came fully under the power of the Syrian king.

In 171 B.C. Epiphanes desecrated the Holy of Holies.
This desecration resulted in an uprising by Judas Maccabeus of the priestly line of Aaron.
In 165 B.C. the Jews recaptured Jerusalem and cleansed the temple.
Descendents of Maccabeus, for about the next three or four generations, ruled as priests in Jerusalem.
During the days of the Maccabeus and his sons there was a temporary overthrow of foreign domination.
But the Syrian army continued their attack to recapture the city and the temple.

So one of the descendents of Maccabeus who was a priest made a league with Rome, the rising power in the West.
He signed a treaty with the Senate of Rome, providing for help in the event of Syrian attack.
The treaty was made in all earnestness and sincerity.
But this pact introduced Rome into the history of Israel.

Then the Governor of Idumea, a man named Antipater and a descendant of Esau attacked Jerusalem and overthrew the authority of the high priest.
Pompey, the Roman general also joined the struggle and overthrew the city and captured it for Rome. That was in 63 B.C.
From that time on, Jerusalem was under the authority and power of Rome.

Romans gained control of Israel in 63 B.C.
In 47 B.C., Caesar installed Antipater, a descendant of Esau, as procurator of Judea.
And Antipater subsequently appointed his two sons as kings over Galilee and Judea. 

As the New Testament opens, Antipater’s son, Herod the Great, a descendant of Esau, was king.
The priesthood was politically motivated and not of the line of Aaron.
Politics also resulted in the development of two major factions, the Sadducees and the Pharisees.
The Sadducees favored the liberal attitudes and practices of the Greeks.
They held to only the Torah as regards religion but like all aristocrats they did not think God should have any part in governing the nation.

The Pharisees were conservative zealots who, with the help of the scribes, developed religious law to the point where the concerns and care of people were essentially meaningless.
Additionally, synagogues, new places of worship and social activity, had sprouted up all over the country.
Sanhedrins were established to deal with religious and civil matters and handed out justice.

Meanwhile, the pagan religions of Rome began to fall upon evil days.
People were sick of the polytheism and emptiness of their pagan faiths.

The Jews had gone through times of pressure and had failed in their efforts to re-establish themselves.
They had given up all hope.
There was a growing air of expectancy that the only hope they had left was the coming the promised Messiah.

In the East, the oriental empires had come to the place where the wisdom and knowledge of the past had disintegrated and they too were looking for something.
When the moment came when the star arose over Bethlehem, the wise men of the East who were looking for an answer to their problems saw it immediately and came out to seek the One it pointed to.

Thus, "when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son."

It is amazing how God utilizes history to work out his purposes.
We are also living in the days of another “silence of God.”
For more than 2000 years we hear no authoritative voice from God.
We realize that God has already said all that needs to be said, through the Old and New Testaments.

But God's purpose has not yet fulfilled.
He is working them out as fully now as he did in those days.
The world during the “silent days” came to hopelessness and then the One who would fulfill all their hopes came into their midst.
Just like that the modern world is facing a time when despair is spreading widely across the earth.
Hopelessness is rampant everywhere in this modern world.
And God surely is moving to fulfill all the prophetic words concerning the Second Coming of Christ into the world to establish his Kingdom.
How long? How close? Who knows?
But what God has done in history, he will do again as we approach the end of "the silence of God."

The Roman Empire
 As I told above, historians have been obsessed with the fall of the Roman Empire.
It has been valued as an archetype for every perceived decline, and, hence, as a symbol for our own fears.

Rome was a city in the centre of the country of Italy.
In 753 BC the legendary founder of the city, Romulus founded a monarchy.
But Rome became a Republic 509 BC.

For nearly 500 years, the city of Rome was a republic, governed by its Senate, elected by Roman citizens.
However, over time they started expanding their power beyond Rome and eventually fell into a series of civil wars.
The senators were fighting for power between themselves.

In the first century BC, the Senate appointed Julius Caesar as the dictator of Rome.
But unfortunately that wasn't very long, and Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC.
The incident was followed by civil unrest and Caesar's adopted heir, Octavian defeated the other political factions and re-stabilized Rome.
In 27 BC the Senate voted to give Octavian virtually unlimited power under the imperial title Augustus. This was the end of the Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire.

At its zenith, the Roman Empire included these today's countries and territories: much of Europe, north Africa, and the Middle East.
The European territory included England, Wales, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Gibraltar, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine.
The Coastal northern African territory included Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt and the Balkans.

The Romans invaded other countries too.

Many consider the Roman Empire as one of the greatest civilizations in history. 
The story of early Christianity is described on the historical setting of the Empire.
Cesar was venerated as the divine harbinger of peace and salvation for the world.
Caesar Augustus was the emperor during the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2).

Roman Empire was born in 27 BC and Octavian, called Caesar Augustus, was its first emperor.
The Roman Empire lasted approximately 1,500 years.
The first two centuries of the empire's existence were a period of unprecedented political stability and prosperity known as the Pax Romana, or "Roman Peace".

Gaius Octavius who was later known as Caesar Augustus was born on 23 September 63 BC in Rome.
In 43 BC his great-uncle, Julius Caesar, was assassinated and in his will, Octavius, known as Octavian, was named as his heir.
He fought to avenge Caesar.
He came to power in 31 BC after a period of political unrest following the murder of Julius Caesar. 
The Roman Republic struggled for a time in civil war when Octavian took the throne. 
He took up the name Caesar Augustus.
He was a celebrated as a hero after the strife of civil war.
Augustus was considered the great source of peace for Rome and as a great “savior”.
Whenever the great deeds of Augusts were proclaimed, they were presented with the Greek term euangelion, which is translated, “good news” or, “gospel”.

During this time the “Roman Imperial Theology” emerged.
This new theology was advertised with poems and inscriptions, coins and images, statues, altars, and structures.
Through this cultic propaganda, the Empire justified his dominance throughout Rome and the conquered territories.

Not all of Augustus’ successors, however, were as capable.
Tiberius (14-37 C.E.), though experienced, was unpopular.
He was followed by his grand nephew Gaius Caligula in 37 AD.
He was succeeded by his uncle Claudius (41-54 C.E.).
Claudius was poisoned by his fourth wife Agrippina and Nero (54-68 C.E.) who was Agrippina’s son by a previous marriage, became emperor.
His last days were of political unrest and he committed suicide in 68 CE.
Widespread unrest in the empire and chaos followed and a succession of emperors came to power.

In 293 AD, Rome created a tetrarchy, a government ruled by four leaders, not just one.
This stabilized Rome for a bit, but it too fell apart, resulting in a splitting of the Empire between East and West.
In the early 5th century, Rome was attacked first by the Germanic Visigoths and then later by Germanic Vandals.
The fall of the empire finally happened in September 476 AD when Romulus Augustulus, the last Roman emperor of the west was deposed by a Germanic prince called Odovacar.
But what happened to the East Roman Empire?
It lived on and became a new power, called the Byzantine Empire.

As Rome was divided in the 3rd and 4th centuries, the man who briefly united them was the emperor Constantine.
Not only did Constantine convert the empire to Christianity, he also formally moved the capital from Rome to the Greek city Byzantium in modern-day Turkey.
It was renamed Constantinople in his honor.
 In 395 AD the Roman Empire was divided into East and West factions.
Rome fell in 476 AD, leaving Constantinople as the last imperial city.

The Byzantine Empire lasted for almost a millennium as a dominant Christian power in the world.
But Constantinople was attacked in the 15th century by an Islamic state called the Ottoman Empire.
The Ottomans captured Constantinople in 1453 AD, renaming it Istanbul and putting an end to the Byzantine Empire.

Thus the Eastern Roman Empire also fell.

New Testament Period
 Now, when we open the New Testament, we discover an entirely different atmosphere, almost a different world from the period of the last prophet Malachi.
Rome is now the dominant power of the earth.
The Roman legions have spread throughout the length and breadth of the civilized world.
The center of power has shifted from the East to the West, to Rome.

Judea was under a king appointed by Rome.
This king is the descendant of Esau instead of Jacob, and his name is Herod the Great.
The high priests who now sit in the seat of religious authority in the nation are no longer from the line of Aaron.
They were hired priests to whom the office is sold as political patronage.

The temple is still the center of Jewish worship, although the building has been partially destroyed and rebuilt about a half-dozen times since the close of the Old Testament.
But now the synagogues that have sprung up in every Jewish city seem to be the center of Jewish life even more than the temple.

The New Testament world has the Roman Empire in its background.
Caesar Augustus is the earliest figure of the Roman Empire found in the New Testament.
He was the emperor during the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2).

As we have already said above Octavian became the Roman Emperor in 27 BC.
The Senate accorded him the title Augustus.
This was not simply a change of name, but a change of identity. 

Augustus meant "great" or "venerable”.
The title deified him and gave divinity to Caesar and eventually he became an object of worship.
Thus an Imperial Theology was developed.
Augustus was also referred to as the long awaited “Savior” and the “son of god”. 
And the succeeding emperors after Augustus were considered the “sons of god”.

Israel at the time of Jesus
 During the first century, Rome had dominion over Israel. 
In 63 BC the Romans invaded and conquered Jerusalem. 
In order to keep control over the Galilean and Judean peoples, Julius Caesar and the Senate installed Herod as king. 

Herod expanded the Temple in Jerusalem to be more grandiose and Hellenistic-Roman in style.
He also imposed a sacrifice that the priests would give on behalf of Rome and the emperor. 
Herod also constructed imperial temples and fortresses to reinforce Roman control. 
He imposed heavy taxes on the people of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea.

Here let us have a look at the birth narrative of Jesus in Luke chapter 2.
Luke’s birth narrative is obviously related to the Roman Empire. 
Caesar Augustus was the Emperor of Rome.
 He issued a decree that the whole world would be counted. 
This was so that the emperor would be able to tax the people with greater accuracy. 

We have already said seen that Caesar Augustus was called the “son of god” and the “savior”.
The birth of Augustus is correlated with the beginning of a new era. 
His birth and continual birthdays were declared in Greek as euangelion, meaning “good news” or, “gospel”.
But when the angel Gabriel visits Mary to tell her that she will give birth to Jesus, the child is proclaimed as the “Son of God” (Luke 1.35).

Luke 1:35   And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. (NKJV)

The angel said to the shepherds:
 Luke 2:10, 11
10        Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
 11       "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  (NKJV)

Luke 2:13, 14
13        And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
 14       "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"  (NKJV)

The claim of Augustus as god is turned upside down by a baby that was born into the system of oppression created by the Romans. 
Jesus is born as the true Savior.
And the qualities that were given to the Roman emperor have turned out to be a cheap imitation. 
Here the description of the birth of Jesus by Luke puts him “in religio-political opposition to the emperor.”

The Five Causes
 In his historic masterpiece, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon identifies five major causes that contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire:
And the aim of this message is to draw our attention to parallel events in the modern history.

From all the detailed discussion above we have understood the strength and greatness of the Roman Empire.
Now please keep in your mind as we proceed, all whatever we have been discussing about the Roman Empire.

After the Prophet Malachi, God remained silent for 400 years.
That was not an era of inaction on the part of God.
Rather God was preparing the world for the birth of Jesus Christ.
God managed the events and the history of the world to prepare a fitting background for the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
When Caesar Augustus claimed to be the “son of god”, the true son of God was born.
Roman Empire was so vast that it contained all the civilized part of the world.
The imperial theology made Augustus god of the world.
And Jesus announced a better world as the Kingdom of God.
Many parables and teachings of Jesus have the background of Jewish culture and the Roman Empire.

That is the importance of the historical background of the Roman Empire.
Historians claim that the Roman Empire is unparallel in human history.
But still it fell.

As we discuss the five causes for the fall of the Roman Empire, I may request you to compare and find parallel events in the modern world.
It is so conspicuous that I need not explain to you.

 There was a rapid increase of divorce during the last days of the Roman Empire.
They undermined the dignity and sanctity of home, which is the basis of human society.
The decline of family system destroyed the fabric of the society.

The Roman Empire thrived when its citizens valued marriage and family.
It fell when the family stopped being cherished.

History shows that the strength of any nation depends upon the strength of its families.
Family is the rock-solid foundation on which a country’s superstructure is erected.

Once, Seneca, the famous Roman philosopher, warned that Rome would fall.
He also said the main cause of the fall but the people scoffed and ignored his warnings.
In the words of Seneca, one of the foundational reasons Rome would fall was the fact that “they divorce in order to remarry. They marry in order to divorce.
Seneca warned that family breakdown would destroy the Roman Empire!

In the good old days of the Roman Republic, a child was born in wedlock.
The most important feature or element of this family group in the Roman Republic was the authority of the father.
The father was the nucleus of the early Roman family.
He led his sons and daughters and was an example of the virtues they were to develop.

God says that’s the way it ought to be.
Families need to stick together.
Husbands and wives must work to bind their marriages together.
God said that in marriage you ought to cleave to one another and become one flesh.

But in the last phase of the Roman Empire, as in the world today, people began to turn to a new morality that no longer valued marriage and the family.
This new morality caused them to lose respect for marriage and family.

History thus shows clearly, the increase in divorce as the foundational reason for the fall of the awesome and mighty Roman Empire.
We, the moderns ignore this history at our peril.

Seneca’s warning is for the modern days also.
Divorce and family disintegration are rampant in all nations these days.
Largely forgotten today is the fact that the home is the basic foundation of any society. 
It is the most influential element in national character.
It lays the first groundwork for learning individual character, values, goals, morality, self-control and loyalty.
The early Romans basically understood this, and it was a force that helped Rome to grow into a power and stature.
And Rome fell well they ignored the fabric of the family.

Increased Taxation
 The Roman Empire deteriorated due to oppressive taxation.
The tax ‘reforms’ of Emperor Diocletian in the 3rd century drove many people to starvation and bankruptcy.
By the 4th century, the Roman economy and tax structure were so dismal that many farmers abandoned their lands in order to receive public entitlements.

What Rome lacked, however, was an effective culture of technical innovation and wealth-creation.
The collapse of the financial system led to the adoption of totalitarian solutions by a succession of Roman emperors during the third and fourth centuries.

The empire sustained itself on the rewards it reaped from war.
The plunder and looting of territories and the enslavement of their people allowed the empire to stay in power for over a thousand years.
Economic problems began in the second century when the empire reached the limit of its expansion.
With no new territories left to conquer, a policy was enacted of debauching the currency to fill the gap between rising expenditures and falling revenues.
Inflation was the inevitable result.
The once strong currency of the denarius was transformed into something so worthless.
Even soldiers refused to accept their pay in denarius and tax collectors refused to accept it.

So new system of imperial taxation was introduced based on payment in kind – wheat, barley, meat, wine, oil, and clothing – rather than worthless coinage.
To impose and police this new system, a vast and ever growing central bureaucracy was created which itself necessitated more taxes.

At this point, the imperial government was spending the majority of the funds it collected on either the military or public entitlements.
The increased military forces required more taxes both to quell internal revolts and to resist the barbarian tribes who were by then threatening the frontiers of the empire.

Freebees like “bread and circus” distributed food and provided entertainments to the public by the government.
For a time, according to historian Joseph Tainter, “those who lived off the treasury were more numerous than those paying into it.”

It is written that there were vast increases in the number of the idle rich, and the idle poor.
The latter (the idle poor) were put on a permanent dole, a welfare system.
As this system became permanent, the recipients of public welfare increased in number.
They organized into a political block with sizable power.
They were not hesitant about making their demands known.
Nor was the government hesitant about agreeing to their demands.

The great, solid middle class was taxed more and more to support a bureaucracy that kept growing larger, and even more powerful.
Surtaxes were imposed upon incomes to meet emergencies.
The government engaged in deficit spending.
The denarius, a silver coin similar to our half dollar, began to lose its silvery hue.
It took on a copper color as the government reduced the silver content.

Farmers were prevented from simply abandoning their work by laws which tied them and their descendants to the land in perpetuity.
Similarly artisans and merchants living and working in the towns were also tied to their occupations and localities forever.

Parents were commonly forced to sell their children into slavery to raise money to pay taxes.
Non-payment of taxes was punished by torture and even burning alive.
Tax collectors also faced the death penalty if they failed to collect sufficient revenue.

In the 5th century, tax riots and rebellion were commonplace in the countryside among the farmers.
The Roman government routinely had to dispatch its legions to stamp out peasant tax revolts.

But this did not stop their taxes from rising.
Naturally both rich and poor wished that the barbarian nations in the neighborhood may deliver them from the burden of Roman taxation.
As a result they sought the help of the barbarian nations.
They welcomed and aided the barbarians who would ultimately bring about the end of the Roman Empire.
Many Roman peasants even fought alongside their invaders.
Others simply vacated the Empire altogether.

The curtain fell on the Roman Empire in the fifth century.
It was the burden of taxes as much as the barbarians which had caused Rome’s destruction.

In his book Decadent Societies, historian Robert Adams wrote, by “the fifth century, men were ready to abandon civilization itself in order to escape the fearful load of taxes.”

Perhaps 1,000 years hence, future historians will be writing the same thing about us.
It’s not so far-fetched.

Our time is not different from the last days of Rome.
Government taxes in many names are increasing gradually.
The expense of the Government and the bureaucracy who runs it has grown gigantic.
Politicians who know neither history nor financial principles have only one solution to it – increase taxes again.
The middle class of the society pays the major chunk of the government taxes.
Like the 5th century Romans, people may be ready to abandon civilization itself to escape the burdens placed on them by today’s ruling class.
Only, by the time this happens, it may be too late to start doing anything about it.

An insatiable craving for pleasure
 Mad emperors, fierce warriors, brutal entertainments, and lascivious lifestyles are behind the fall of the Roman Empire.
There was a wide spread craze for pleasure; sports becoming every year more exciting and more brutal.

The rich of Rome spent so much time having feasts and entertainments.
After watching Emperor Nero and his friends have a feast, the philosopher Seneca wrote that the wealthy of Rome “vomit that they may eat; and eat that they may vomit.”

The money spent on Gladiatorial Games drained the exchequer of the empire.
A gladiator was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic in violent confrontations with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned criminals.
Gladiatorial games originated in the rites of sacrifice due the spirits of the dead and the need to propitiate them with offerings of blood.

There were thousands of unemployed young Romans and it led to civil unrest and rioting in the streets.
So the mob needed to be distracted and amused with spectacular games.
In the Roman Empire, it was bread, chariot races and gladiatorial games that filled the belly and distracted the mind of the young citizens, allowing emperors to rule as they saw fit.

The cost of the gladiatorial games was born by the Emperor and corrupt politicians to get the favor and support of the mob.
The cost of the gladiatorial games eventually increased to one third of the total income of the Roman Empire.

Imperial Rome also spent lavishly for collecting and displaying exotic animals from foreign countries.
Animals were caught and transported to Rome at the expense of the government.
Emperor Augustus boasted that 3,500 African animals were killed in his 26 circus displays.
The slaughter under later Emperors was even more horrifying.
The Romans also lavished much kindness on their pets.

Obesity was a wide spread physical problem among the rich Romans.
Feasts, entertainment and no work produced a mass of obese people.
But tragically while the rich feasted the common men starved.
And resentment and civil war arose.
There is truth to the view that people can be kept tractable as long as you fill their bellies and give them violent spectacles to fill their free time.
The modern politicians also use this trick.

Feasts and entertainments are the yard for happiness in our modern world also.
We celebrate violence like the Romans.
Gladiator and chariot games brazed the Roman people for a violent life.
We appreciate violence as long as it does not harm us.
Violence is a public show now that people enjoy through videos and cinemas.

Yes, we are more or less like the citizens of the falling Roman Empire.

An unsustainable buildup of armaments
Excessive military spending played a major role in the fall of the Roman Empire.
The Roman government was spending more money on the army than needed.
Military spending left few resources for other vital activities such as providing housing and maintaining public roads.
The money could have been used to improve more demolished parts of Rome but instead Rome was losing money fast on the military and the money was leaving the country.

Romans believed, "If you wish for peace prepare for war."
Augustus is credited with creating the world's first peacetime military.
Before him, armies and navies were raised to lead an attack or prepare a defense.
He raised a professional military force to maintain order and defend borders in peacetime.

The military had to share resources with Rome's other needs including roads.
This meant there was not enough money to go around.
The government found it necessary to rely on hired soldiers.
Street mobs and foreigners, who served as soldiers, were not as well trained as the Roman Legion.
And Rome paid barbarians to fight on the Roman side.
There were many civil wars in Rome between usurpers and emperors, which put Rome in chaos.
The wars disrupted training, and also reduced manpower.
Eventually, the paid soldiers abandoned their loyalty to the Roman Empire.

Emperors were then forced to raise taxes frequently.
Farms and business men mostly paid for these taxes, which greatly hurt the economy.
Citizens quickly lost their pride in Rome. 
The army and the citizens no longer wanted to sacrifice for the good of Rome.

Roman coins grew gradually more debased due to the demands placed on the treasury of the Roman state by the military.
Although early in its history troops were expected to provide much of their own equipment, eventually the Roman military was almost entirely funded by the state.
Since soldiers of the early Republican army were unpaid citizens, the financial burden of the army on the state was minimal.

During the time of expansion in the Republic and early Empire, Roman armies had acted as a source of revenue for the Roman state, plundering conquered territories, displaying the massive wealth in triumphs upon their return and fueling the economy.
Historians like Toynbee and Burke believe that the Roman economy was essentially a plunder economy.
However, after the Empire had stopped expanding in the 2nd century AD, this source of revenue dried up.
By the end of the 3rd century AD, Rome had ceased to expand.
As tax revenue was plagued by corruption and hyperinflation during the third century, military expenditures began to become a crushing burden on the finances of the Roman state.

Several additional factors bloated the military expenditure of the Roman Empire.
First, substantial rewards were paid to "barbarian" chieftains for their good conduct in the form of negotiated subsidies and for the provision of allied troops.
Secondly, the military boosted its numbers, possibly by one third in a single century.
Third, the military increasingly relied on a higher ratio of cavalry units in the late Empire, which were many times more expensive to maintain than infantry units.

As military size and costs increased, new taxes were introduced or existing tax laws reformed in the late Empire to finance it.
Reducing the per capita costs for an increased standing army was impractical.
A large number of the population could not be taxed because they were slaves or held Roman citizenship, both of which exempted them from taxation.
Of the remaining, a large number were already impoverished by centuries of warfare and weakened by chronic malnutrition.
Still, they had to handle an increasing tax rate and so they often abandoned their lands to survive in a city.

Plunder was still made from suppressing insurgencies within the Empire and on limited incursions into enemy land.
Legally, much of it should have returned to the Imperial purse, but these goods were simply kept by the common soldiers, who demanded it of their commanders as a right.
Given the low wages and high inflation in the later Empire, the soldiers felt that they had a right to acquire plunder.
 The decay of religion
The fifth cause of the fall of the Roman Empire, cited by Gibbon is the decay of religion.
Roman civic and religious life was deeply connected with religion.
Priestesses of the traditional pagan faith controlled the fortune of Rome, prophetic books told leaders what they needed to win wars, and emperors were deified.

By in the later days of the Roman Empire, religion lost its relation with life and became impotent or powerless to guide life.
And faith faded into mere form.
The decay of religion is the decay of traditional and moral values in all areas of life.
Thus ethics and values declined.
Life became cheap, bloodshed led to more bloodshed and extreme cruelty.

The values, the ideals, customs, traditions and institutions, of the Romans declined.
The basic principles, standards and judgments about what was valuable or important in life declined.
The total disregard for human and animal life resulted in a lack of ethics.
A perverted view came into existence of what was right and wrong, good and bad, desirable and undesirable.
Any conformity to acceptable rules or standards of human behavior was lost.

The early Romans condemned adultery and divorce in strong terms.
But the later Romans were not serious about fornication, which the ownership of female slaves made widespread in the Empire. 
Immorality became the right of the people for which even Emperors shamefacedly argued.

Prostitution flourished.
Homosexuality was stimulated by contact with Greece and Asia.

Women won the free administration of their dowries, divorced their husbands or occasionally poisoned them.
They doubted the wisdom of bearing children in an age of urban congestion and imperialistic wars.
By 160 AD there had been a decline of population.
And the state found it hard to raise an army as in the former days.

Though branded as a crime, infanticide flourished as poverty grew.
Sexual excesses may have reduced human fertility; the avoidance or deferment of marriage had a like effect, and the making of eunuchs increased as Oriental customs flowed in to the West.

Immigration brought together a hundred cultures into the Empire.
Moral and esthetic standards were lowered by the magnetism of the mass.
And sex ran riot in freedom while political liberty decayed.

Men became more selfish and corrupt.
It is every man for him. 
Government office is valued, not as a means to serve society, but rather as a means to gain money. 

The later Romans questioned religious rites and upheld the philosophy, Eat, drink and be merry, while it lasts. 
Such Hedonism is, in the end, profoundly depressing.

In the fourth century Christianity became fashionable. 
This should have improved the morals of the Romans. 
But it is questioned whether it really did. 
Christianity became an institutionalized religion by that time and decaying started.
Gibbon considers the influence of Christianity as one of the causes of the fall of the Roman Empire.

But the blame for the fall of the Empire cannot be put on Christianity; it is not even one of the major causes.
The Eastern Roman Empire, Byzantine was officially a Christian country.
It stood firm and strong for 1000 years more, even after the fall of the Western part of the Empire.

The later Roman society was devoid of fiber. 
The world exists; but nobody really feels that they belong to it. 
In this respect, the rise of asceticism, of “renouncing the world”, may even have made the situation worse.

Young men increasingly took to using cosmetics and wearing feminine-like hairdo’s and garments, until it became difficult, the historians tell us, to tell the sexes apart.
The morals declined.
It became unsafe to walk in the countryside or the city streets.
Rioting was commonplace and sometimes whole sections of towns and cities were burned.

Let us look around at our modern world.
The spiritual has given way to the flesh.
Satisfaction of the flesh is more important to the modern man than the salvation of the spirit.
The focus has shifted from the spiritual to the worldly.

Immorality has grown to its height.
An immoral life was a shame in the good old days.
But now we see people fighting in the street to legalize immorality.
Immorality has become a right of the people.

The Decline and Fall of the Modern World
Before we conclude let us spend few minutes to look at the decline and fall of our modern and post modern world.

Every empire falls.
There’s no way to stop it.
It may be a quiet, dignified passing of a torch.
Or it may be a flaming destruction of a nation torn down by barbarians.

If we take lessons from the history of the Roman Empire, we’ll see some eerie parallels with our own.
And if history really does repeat itself, we’ll get a pretty good idea of what’s to come next.
Remember Rome fell not in a single day.
It was a gradual decline to nothing.

The modern world is a kingdom as described in the vision of Daniel as a Kingdom of clay and iron.
The modern world is not a single visible Empire ruled by a monarch.
But it has an invisible monarch.
That is why Satan claimed that all kingdoms are under him.

Rome didn’t collapse in a pile of fire and ashes.
Just getting sacked by barbarians didn’t spell the end of Rome.
It died out peacefully over hundreds of years from dozens of decisions.
All those wonderful ideas looked great at that time; but gradually led to the fall.
Even after the fall of the Western Empire the Eastern Empire known as the Byzantine Empire lasted for another 1000 years.

It took 1,000 years for Rome to die.
It wasn’t over with a big bang in second of time.
They lingered on for centuries.
Their quality of life slowly changed, and most of their people were probably unaware that they were living through the fall of an empire.

Look at the modern scenario.
The world has become what we proudly call a “global village”.
No country can live independent of another.
Culture, trade, religion, democratic ideals and many more has united the world and made dependable to each other.
The economic progress or depression in one nation is the concern of all nations.
Technology, speed, travel and communication have brought the nations around the world closer than ever.
There is no remote unreached area on the face of the earth.
No nation is alone and no people are alone.
All nations are only independent provinces of a large empire.

In a sense we are now a stronger empire than the Roman Empire.
Like the first decades of the Roman Empire, everything goes in an apparent peace.
At the same time all of us know that nothing goes well in this world these days.
We are expecting the worse to happen at any time of the world.

The real tragedy on our post modern world is the large number of innocent children who live with only one parent after a divorce or family breakup.
Only one parent is their best record.
When children drop to a one-parent basis, that is the announcement of the failing civilization, and it means social disorganization.
One survey stated that 70 percent of male prisoners in the United States came from broken homes where they lived with only one parent.

We are following very closely in many respects, the pattern which led to the downfall of the great Roman Empire.
A group of well-known historians has summarized those conditions leading to the downfall of Rome in these words:

Rome was conquered not by barbarian invasion from without, but by barbarian multiplication within.
Rome gained the world and lost its soul.

My brothers and sisters, I beg of you to study history - the history of the world.
Look at Babylon in Assyria.
Look at Jerusalem.
Read about Sodom and Gomorrah.
The story of Rome and its dissoluteness.
Learn from other cities likewise slipped from high plateaus to low marshes and defilement.

Is there a parallel for us today?
Could the same reasons that destroyed Rome destroy the countries of the post modern world?
It is easy to see the resemblance between our modern-day situation and that of ancient Rome.
The story of the modern civilization of the world is a continued story of the same weaknesses that disintegrated a mighty Empire.

In our own time on both sides of the Atlantic and the Pacific and in the north and the south, we seem to be following the same trends.
Our successes bring us to extravagances, to our seeking for high amusement.
We control childbirth and reduce our families.
We divorce and break up our homes.
Many of our children become orphans in one way or another.
We become irreligious and practice evil ways.
We indulge in the bestial satisfactions.
We crave social activities at the expense of our family life and we lose our sense of rightness, of goodness and of devotion.
If every Roman father taught his sons righteousness instead of war, and every mother made a home for her children, if all parents assembled their children in their homes instead of the circuses and public baths, taught them chastity and honor and integrity and cleanness, Rome would have been a world power even to this day.

During the hour of our success is our greatest danger.
Even during the hour of great prosperity, a nation may sow the seeds of its own destruction.
History reveals that rarely is a great civilization conquered from outside unless it has weakened or destroyed itself within.
The lessons of history stand as guideposts to help us safely chart the course for the future.

Let me wind up by reading a portion from the Bible.
Since this message is already long enough, I am leaving the Bible portion without any explanation.
You can connect whatever we have learned so far with this passage.

2 Timothy 3:1-5
1          But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
 2         For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
 3         unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,
 4         traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
 5         having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

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