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Causes of A National Fall of Greatness - A Look At Deuteronomy 4



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Causes of A National Fall of Greatness
A Look At Deuteronomy 4

Deut 4:1-9


In addition to the rise and fall of many civilizations historically addressed by the Holy Bible, two writers conducted research on the history of Rome and Athens Greece, in attempts to discover if there is a general or specific cause for their fall.

It is interesting to compare the findings of these two authors on these TWO different civilizations.


One of the most widely read books of all time is "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire". Written in 1788 by Edward Gibbon it sets forth five basic reasons why that great civilization withered and died. These were:

1. The undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the family, which is the basis for human society.
2. Higher and higher taxes; the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace.
3. The mad craze for pleasure; sports every year becoming more exciting, more brutal, more immoral.
4. The building of great armaments when the real enemy was within - the decay of individual responsibility.
5. The decay of religion; faith fading into mere form, losing touch with life, losing power to guide the people.


Twelve years later, in 1801, another great man by the name of Professor Alexander Fraser Tytler, in a famous statement on "The Cycle of Democracy", predicted the tendency of one-man, one-vote democracy (as opposed to a Republic) to be destroyed by the elective power of the majority to demand benefits to which they are not entitled.

Tytler (1742-1813) was a Scottish jurist and historian, and was professor of Universal History at Edinburgh University in the late 18th century. He studied various civilizations, and wrote "The Demise and Fall of Athens". The quotation below is from the 1801 collection of his lectures:

"A Democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising them the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world's great civilizations has been 200 years. Nations have historically progressed through THIS sequence:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From great courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to selfishness;
6. From selfishness to complacency;
7. From complacency to apathy;
8. From apathy to dependence;
9. From dependence back again to bondage."

What Tytler postulated, and what is rapidly coming to pass, is that a democracy bears within itself the seeds of its own destruction; that excellence of any sort is rare and tends to be overwhelmed by the politically achievable of the ordinary, less-than-excellent, masses. Not only is fiscal compensation distorted, but excellence is actively discouraged.

Scripture - Dt 4:1-9

I. Refusing To Take Heed to the Word of the Lord - v1-2

A. By Rejecting Its Proclamation

“Hearken” is not just to hear the sound; but to pay attention, listen intently, with the purpose of OBedience!

▸ the rejection of content - hearing but not accepting
▸ the rejection of broadcast - unwilling to tolerate the very hearing of it

B. By Accepting Its Perversion

▸ unintentional perversion - “well, God didn’t really mean THAT!”
▸ intentional perversion - updated translations

II. Refusing To Take Heed to the Way of the Lord - v3-4

Num 25 must have been shortly before the Deut 4.

We must learn the lessons history has for us. Consider the lessons of American history:

▸ Washington’s miraculous escape from New York in 1776
▸ the psychological healing of our nation following the Civil War
▸ America’s victory over the Japanese in WW2

Now consider what we’re dealing with:

▸ The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
▸ 9-11 and the prolonged War on Terror

Knowing the truth of 2Chron 7:13-14

2 Chronicles 7:13-14 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; 14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Knowing that truth: what might God be doing?

▸ what might God be doing with muslims having nuclear capability?
▸ what might God be doing with oil at $145.29 barrel?
▸ what might God be doing with Russia and China building friendly relationships?

III. Refusing to Take Heed to the Wisdom of the Lord - v5-8

A. God’s Wisdom Expressed In Commandments

“wisdom” = hokma - skill. It is in knowing what is right, and the ability to be able to do it! Following God’s commandments IS wise because those commandments give us the best possibility of eternal happiness, blessedness, bliss and joy!

B. God’s Wisdom OBserved In OBedience

Do you want to be wise? OBey God! Do you want to be thought of as wise? OBey God!

C. God’s Wisdom Experienced by Choice

Israel’s greatness in the days of David and Solomon rank them with the great world empires of her day.

Like Israel, many have believed that God’s special hand was on the founding of our country, too.

Providence - the Colonial American’s preferred name for God!

John Adams - {Independence Day}, “1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”

John Quincy Adams, on 7/4/1821 - “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

John Jay - “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

Ben Franklin, in 1787, while working on what would become the Constitution - “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth--that God Governs the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it prOBable that an empire can rise without His aid? ¶ We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that "except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest. ¶ I therefore beg leave to move--that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.”

As we move further and further away from acknowledging God’s founding of our country, we move closer and closer to trouble.

IV. Refusing to Take Heed to the Walk With the Lord - v9

A. Personal

B. Family


Where do we start? Personal righteousness, extending into all of your relationships. It starts with Jesus Christ.


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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

I appreciate the sermon and the appropriate quotes by some of the founding fathers of the United States: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, John Jay, and Benjamin Franklin,

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