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Collapse of Empires

January 16, 2010

If you could die for your nation, would you?  I think many of you would.  It requires an awesome commitment!  The problem is that there are 238 nations in the world, more than 20,000 people groups so there are constant nationalistic tensions between everyone.  Each of these 238 countries has their own idea on what is the “best” form of government.

I often think of what makes a nation strong and great. I would like to see Cambodia become a great and righteous nation. I would also like the see the United States continue to be powerful as well. Without studying history, or paying attention to the current news, you may think that all nations in the world have always existed and will last forever.  In fact, the fall of great empires only takes a moment in the scope of history.  I remember clearly the day the Berlin wall collapsed which marked the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union.  This was once one of the most powerful empires in the world.  I even saw my Dad cry as he watched the news, something which I rarely saw.  In a matter of only a few months, the entire Soviet Union unraveled and vanished from the earth.  In generations to come it will be reduced to a few paragraphs in a history book.

Where did nations come from?  Do you know that previous to Genesis 11 and the tower of Babel, not much is said about nations.  Language seemed to be unified and only after the separation of languages did the birth of nationalism begin.  People spread out in the world and the clusters of people became unique nations.

In the Bible there were so many empires which were mentioned yet have vanished:  There were Assyria, Babylon, Edom and Moab to name a few of the better known empires that no longer exist.  There are also dozens of smaller countries such as Hurria and Akkadia which are not so well known and are gone forever.  Very few of the kingdoms mentioned in the Bible have any relation to present nations.  Egypt and Israel are the only two which are still represented in name, yet the form of government, much land they control, and even languages are different today than in ancient days. In our western history, we talk about nations such as Gaul and the Holy Roman Empire, yet neither exists today.  The United States of America has only been a country since 1776 and the last two states only added about sixty years ago! In my life time I have seen nations such as Rhodesia and East Germany disappear and others such as Kosovo and Timor Leste appear.  In present day Cambodia, former powerful nations such as Champa, Cochine and the Stieng Republic (I know you have never heard of them) no longer can be found because they have been assimilated by other more powerful nations.  Monuments of an even more powerful civilization of the Angkor kingdom are present all around us in modern Cambodia, yet the glory and grandeur have never been repeated and their cities lost to the jungle for hundreds of years.

Some Ruins of the Angkor Kingdom

I am not smart enough to know what it takes to grow an empire to last forever, but I know that the one book that records so much about ancient history gives a lot of instructions about how to build a nation.  The Bible, especially the sections of the Law of Moses (Genesis to Deuteronomy), have much to say about how God wants us to build a kingdom; His Kingdom.  People keep trying to do it their own way.  We have as many nations as ideas about how to govern them.  The greatest empire to birth democracy, Greece, died long ago, yet to some democracy is the answer for a strong modern nation.  Communism has collapsed, yet some still seek to re-promote them as the solution for societies needs.   There are innumerable ideas of governance and nation building.  Most of them have been tried, and failed before.

The Bible also records the future for nations.  In Revelation it describes heaven by saying,  “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9).  The nations are extremely important to the plan of God.  He desires that all the nations will worship him.  The Biblical word “nations” is actually the Greek word “ethné” which more accurately means “tribes” or “people groups”.  Nations are made up of people.  It is the people, not the form of government, which is more important.  While nations rise and fall constantly, the people remain and regroup to form new governments with new names.  These people and the nations they represent are crucial to the plan of God.  It is God’s desire that all people, of every nation on earth, will worship him.

How do you build a strong nation?  I have no way of knowing for sure, but it seems to me that the more people we point to Jesus the better chance we achieving what God has called us to do.  There have been so many different forms of government in the modern world including: Authoritarian, Communist, Islamic Sharia, Dictatorships, Monarchies,  Police States, Anarchies,  Democracies, Oligarchies, Republics and so many other variations on each.  It seems every national context has a different variation on the “best” form of government.  Many nations which have long since died swore they followed the “best” form of government, yet with their demise proved they obviously didn’t.  Today seems no different.  In our respective nations, we seem so invincible and act as if our nations will live forever.  Historically it has been shown since the beginning of time it only takes a moment for a once powerful empire to collapse into a distance memory.

In the book of Job it speaks of rulers of the world by saying, “They die in an instant, in the middle of the night; the people are shaken and they pass away; the mighty are removed without human hand.” (Job 34:20) When Satan offered Jesus the “kingdoms of the world” in Luke 4, it was so easy for Jesus to turn him down.  Why give up divinity for something which will not last? Jesus has called us, His people, to establish His eternal kingdom: A kingdom, not of political persuasions, but of righteousness and submission to Jesus Christ alone.  Nations of the world will come and go, but we need to keep leading more and more people, from all the tribes on the earth, to Jesus in order to accomplish God’s plan for the world.

Note:  I know this blog is as heavy as a wet blanket.  I ponder the idea of the Biblical Kingdom of God because I don’t want to simply treat symptoms of society’s issues, but I want to bring about real change to societies for the better.  I am convinced the wisdom of the Bible is by far the best way. What does this blog mean to me: don’t get hung up on theoretical forms of government or nationalistic issues, but focus on people and bettering the lives of actual people.  Nations come and go.  Let’s build nations considering, with the best of our abilities and seeking God, the potential future ramifications and effects on the people. Why does it concern us? We are supposed to be ambassadors of the Kingdom of God, representatives of Jesus’ government.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 16, 2010 4:06 pm

    A very thought provoking post Steve. A kingdom perspective seems to be so different to the thoughts of this world that we’re constantly bombarded with

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