The Downfall of Great Nations

is rooted in sin.

Nahum 3:8-13 (NIV)

Are you better than Thebes,
    situated on the Nile,
    with water around her?
The river was her defense,
    the waters her wall.

Cush and Egypt were her boundless strength;
    Put and Libya were among her allies.
Yet she was taken captive
    and went into exile.
Her infants were dashed to pieces
    at every street corner.
Lots were cast for her nobles,
    and all her great men were put in chains.
You too will become drunk;
    you will go into hiding
    and seek refuge from the enemy.

All your fortresses are like fig trees
    with their first ripe fruit;
when they are shaken,
    the figs fall into the mouth of the eater.
Look at your troops—
    they are all weaklings.
The gates of your land
    are wide open to your enemies;
    fire has consumed the bars of your gates.

The Ninevites must have thought Nahum’s dire prophesy was hilarious. They were invincible. They were the world’s only superpower. They were at the top of their game.

This is Nahum’s response to their laughter. He details the history of previous “invincible” nations.

But nations at the top inevitably become overconfident, lazy partiers. That begins their downfall.

You too will become drunk;
   you will go into hiding
   and seek refuge from the enemy.

Great nations are destroyed from within before they are destroyed from without. Human sinful nature virtually guarantees it. Pride is the great enemy of every individual. Everyone should be aware of pride’s insidious nature and struggle to resist its traps.

But for a whole society, especially one on top of the world? Avoiding pride is almost impossible.

That’s how Rome fell.

The story of its ruin is simple and obvious; and, instead of inquiring why the Roman empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long. … The emperors, anxious for their personal safety and the public peace, were reduced to the base expedient of corrupting the discipline which rendered them alike formidable to their sovereign and to the enemy; … and the Roman world was overwhelmed by a deluge of Barbarians. — Edward Gibbon

No nation is exempt, including us. Pray for revival.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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