Caveat: This material is not useful for atheists and agnostics, as well as practitioners/participants involved in any belief system other than Judeo-Christian, including Islam, the originator of which attempted to hijack some of especially the Old Testament in order to give written validity to his cult.
Historians, especially the “faith-based” ones, have written many books designed to make comparisons among the various cultures, going back thousands of years, with particular respect to their rise and fall. The Greek and Roman empires have perhaps been given the most attention, either one thought to be too powerful on the basis of known facts to be overcome by an enemy but, nevertheless, consigned to the “ash-heaps of history.”
The reasons have been many and varied, with all of them bearing at least a kernel of truth. Perhaps the most accepted reason for a culture’s disintegration and enslavement occasioned by another culture is simply that it rotted out from within, i.e., its people “couldn’t stand prosperity” and in their sensual preoccupations lost their focus – loss of government and consequent loss of the military, which is the only vehicle guaranteeing stability and security. Declarations and diplomacy are fine but worthless unless supported by military might.
An interesting phenomenon remarked in the Old Testament many times has to do with the instances in which God (not Allah or Buddha or Confucius) sort of intruded himself into his Creation and actually used individuals or whole populations or nations or armies to carry out his scheme of the day. Usually, the Israelites, the chosen people of God, bore the brunt of the schemes, their miseries delivered by an entity chosen by God to administer the appropriate punishment for their unceasing proclivity toward disobeying God’s edicts, fashioned to make them acceptable in his sight and amenable to all people rather than hung-up constantly on their own foibles, best described as orgy-oriented or greed-motivated.
An example is seen in the last chapter of II Chronicles, but actually throughout the OT books of history. God dealt with his people (no one knows exactly how) as well as with the leaders and people of other cultures/races. Using prophets like Isaiah and many others, God warned his people from time to time of impending doom if they didn’t shape-up. Sometimes they did, at other times, not. Sometimes, God even used angels to carry out his plan, one such angel dispatching 185,000 Assyrians who were threatening the Israelites, so other folks besides the Jews reaped the whirlwind for their actions when they countered the will of God.
After a long list of wrongdoing by Israelite kings (and the people), there is recorded in chapter 36 the information that the wrath of God vis-à-vis the Israelites had reached the boiling point and God sent the Babylonians to subdue Israel – by war – and carry them off to Babylon as slaves. About 70 or so years later, Cyrus, non-Israelite king of Persia whose army had overcome the Babylonians, indicated God had spoken to him and he allowed the Israelites to return to rebuild Jerusalem, which Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king had sacked.
These verifiable historic matters, well documented in the OT, deal with events up to the time of Christ, after which there is little history noted in the Bible, with the last words of any kind written by John the Apostle no later than 100 A.D. The great unknown, then, has to do with when, if, or how God might have intruded into his creation since 100 A.D. There’s no written record, but God is not dead.
This remarks in many ways the state-of-the-union – and not as per any speech, usually sound and fury signifying nothing anyway. This country is usually called either a “Christian nation” or a “nation of Christians.” Either way, has God in some phenomenal way dealt with this country, and has he done so with other nations/empires, not vocally, of course, but by using leaders and populations to carry out a specific course of action? Did God give a push to the Greeks? Did God “use” the Goths and the Huns to decimate the Romans, just as he used the Assyrians to punish Israel?
What about the “Crusades period?” Who was right and who was wrong? The Roman Catholic Church was shot through with evil but, at least for the faithful peasants, it had to do with God and Christianity. The Muslims were the product of Mohammad, a killer and cult-leader, who began a system of terror that survives to this day, with the killing of innocent “infidels” practically an act of worship and martyrdom if the killer’s life is lost in the process.
Is it conceivable that God could use Islamists to teach hedonistic Christians a lesson, or that God might use the U.S. and other nations of like mind to rid the world of the ayatollahs’ indiscriminate terrorism? After all, the way of terrorism is the way of blasphemy since in the mind of God life is sacred enough to give his son to redeem it. The suicide/homicide bomber, often with financial compensation accruing to his family, kills wantonly.
There are no answers but one wonders in light of such things as the sanctioning of homosexual marriage and its consequent violation of the body, God’s handiwork, and the gradual disintegration of the family, God’s prescribed pattern for survival/stability, if this country is “rotting from within,” as did Rome and other empires. This is probably what former Soviet strongman Khrushchev meant in 1956 when he said, “History is on our side, we will bury you.” The history is plain enough! One wonders what entity might conduct the burial.