More than 200 years ago, Edward Gibbon wrote, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He spent 20 years studying the Roman Empire to find out how such a great nation fell so dramatically.
Gibbon listed 5 primary reasons for the collapse:
1. The rapid increase of divorce, with the undermining of the sanctity of the home, the basis of society.
2. Higher and higher taxes; and the spending of public money on bread and circuses.
3. The mad craze for pleasure, with sports becoming more exciting and brutal.
4. The building of gigantic armies to fight external enemies, when the most deadly enemy, the decadence of the people, was within.
5. The decay of religion; faith fading into mere form.
Interestingly, Gibbon’s 1st volume was published in 1776, the year our nation was born.
The event we celebrate this week on July 4th.
This should be a sober warning that we’re repeating many of the same patterns that wrecked the Roman Empire.
I want to focus on the last one, the fact that our faith can fade into mere form.
Instead of being moved by God’s majesty, we can end up just go through the motions.
In Mk. 7, Jesus comes face to face again with the Pharisees. They attacked Him 5x in chs. 2 & 3. These religious men looked good on the outside. But looks can be deceiving.