A Nation in Decline

“And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, so the LORD gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.” – Judges 13:1

The four themes discussed this week were evident in both Samson’s life and in the lives of the people of Israel as a whole. These themes played a role in the decline of the Israelite nation over the course of roughly 300 years. With the United States nearing a similar age and experiencing similar decline – morally, spiritually, and politically – it is interesting to compare the nations.

Scottish philosopher Alexander Tytler has studied numerous nations and summarized the reasons for decline, noting that the average age of the world’s greatest civilizations is around 200 years. His summary is known as the “Tytler Cycle.”

The Rise and Fall of Civilizations

Step 1: From bondage to spiritual growth because of suffering

Step 2: From spiritual growth to great courage hardened by suffering

Step 3: From courage to liberty as evil is defeated

Step 4: From liberty to abundance and prosperity

Step 5: From abundancy to complacency and indifference

Step 6: From complacency to apathy and laziness

Step 7: From apathy to dependance on government

Step 8: From dependance back to bondage

In Judges, by the time God announces the birth of Samson, the nation of Israel has tragically run into the final step. Despite suffering 40 years of oppression (twice as long as any other period in Judges), the people did not cry out to God. Instead, they had settled for brutal, sinful lives and were not seeking to repent of their sin or return to their God. The backdrop of their life is reported in Judges 13:1 where the people followed after their own sinful desires and God allowed the Philistines to rule over them. As nations rise and fall, the same God will be in control over all people and nations, whether they know it or not. 

In reflecting on the state of our own nation, which step in Tytler’s Cycle would you say we are in now? 

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