If we look at the United States and the old Roman Empire, we see amazing similarities. The way the government is set-up in three branches, the Constitution, the culture, and many other things have a striking resemblance to the Roman Empire. Does these similarities give us an indication as to the future of the United States? Are the current events a sign of the collapse of our society? Are we heading toward the same outcome as the old Roman Empire, or can we learn from their mistakes and reverse what seems to be the decline of our society?
Any nation that turns from its founding principles and rejects the values upon which it was founded is destined for destruction. When the Roman Empire began to embrace pagan practices, their moral, spiritual, and economic progress also began to deteriorate. The United States was founded on Christian principles, but there has been a rejection of those principles and pagan principles has been embraced. Paganism always destroys and degenerates people's lives and keeps them in bondage and a state of ruin. Paganism and Christianity are two separate entities and cannot work at the same time. When a nation that was founded on Christian principles rejects Christianity and embraces pagan practices as the core of their moral values and character, the inevitable result is deterioration.
The Roman Empire began around 500BC as the Roman Republic and survived for about 2,000 years. Rome ceased to be an Empire in 476 when the Western Roman Empire fell to Germanic invaders. Peter Heather, recently published a book called "The Fall of the Roman Empire". He suggests that one of the main reasons for the Empire's decline was the continuing entanglements with Persian Gulf and Mideast Empires. Others now believe that Roman economics also played a much greater role in the demise of the Empire than was originally believed.
On ancient coins states are often represented by human figures. The head and higher parts signify the earlier times; the lower, the later times. The metals become successively baser and baser, implying the growing degeneracy from worse to worse. Hesiod, two hundred years before Daniel, had compared the four ages to the four metals in the same order; the idea is sanctioned here by Holy Writ. It was perhaps one of those fragments of revelation among the heathen derived from the tradition as to the fall of man. The metals lessen in specific gravity, as they go downwards; silver is not so heavy as gold, brass not so heavy as silver, and iron not so heavy as brass, the weight thus being arranged in the reverse of stability. Nebuchadnezzar derived his authority from God, not from man, nor as responsible to man. But the Persian king was so far dependent on others that he could not deliver Daniel from the princes (Dan 6:14, Dan 6:15); contrast Dan 5:18, Dan 5:19, as to Nebuchadnezzar's power from God, "whom he would he slew, and whom he would he kept alive" (compare Ezr 7:14; Esther 1:13-16). Graeco-Macedonia betrays its deterioration in its divisions, not united as Babylon and Persia. Iron is stronger than brass, but inferior in other respects; so Rome hardy and strong to tread down the nations, but less kingly and showing its chief deterioration in its last state. Each successive kingdom incorporates its predecessor (compare Dan 5:28). Power that in Nebuchadnezzar's hands was a God-derived (Dan 2:37, Dan 2:38) autocracy, in the Persian king's was a rule resting on his nobility of person and birth, the nobles being his equals in rank, but not in office; in Greece, an aristocracy not of birth, but of individual influence, in Rome, lowest of all, dependent entirely on popular choice, the emperor being appointed by popular military election.
In the account of the dream of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel, there was a great image whose head was of fine gold, his breast and arms of silver, his belly and thighs of brass, his legs were of iron and his feet part of iron and part of clay. This was an image that represented all the world empires that were to be in power from the time of Nebuchadnezzar until the end time. Daniel said (Dan. 2:38) that Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold, the first of the great empires. After the head of gold came the breast and arms of silver, representing the empire that would arise afterward, the Medes and Persians, the belly and thighs of brass represented the Grecian empire set up by Alexander the Great, then the two legs of iron which represented the Roman Empire, and finally, the feet and ten toes partly of iron and partly of clay (Dan 2:42-43), which represented the final, or the revived Roman Empire. This revival of the Roman Empire, or the final world government, is in process at the present time.
The gold, silver, brass, and iron divisions of the image in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar represented the four kingdoms, which would successively rule all the world until Christ (who is here called the stone) himself comes, and destroys the last, which is the revived Roman Empire.
Each of these empires had to fall in order for the next empire to take over as a world power. The fall of the Roman empire is interesting because it resembles the United States in an amazing parallel. Are we going to fall just as the Roman Empire fell? Are the things going on today an indication that we are? The United States is a world superpower, but according to Bible prophecy, the power is to shift from the United States in order for the revival of the Roman Empire to take place. Some of the amazing parallels of the United States and the Roman Empire are as follows:
- The Roman Empire took a census and the United States takes census
- The Roman Empire was a super power and the United States is a super power
- The Roman Empire occupied the Middle East and the United States occupies the Middle East
- The Roman Empire dealt with Israel and the Jewish people and the United States also deals with Israel and the Jewish people
- The Roman Empire had the eagle as their emblem and the emblem of the United States is the eagle
- The Roman Empire had two political parties and the United States has two political parties
- The Roman Empire senate met at what was called a capitol hill and the United States also has a capitol hill where the senate meets
- The Roman Empire stood for a national anthem and saluted their flag as it was risen and the United States does the same
- The Roman Empire had war over slavery and the United States had a war over slavery
- The Roman Empire had an obsession with luxury and the United States has an obsession with luxury
- The gay lifestyle was practiced in the Roman Empire and in the United States the gay lifestyle is practiced
- The Roman Empire allowed the killing of infants and the United States allows abortion which is the killing of infants
- The Roman Empire built grand stadiums for sports events and the United States has grand stadiums for sporting events
- The Roman Empire had chariot races and the United States has auto races
- Athletes in the Roman Empire were the highest paid individuals in the country and in the United States athletes are among the highest paid
- The Roman Empire started accepting Eastern religions into their society and the United States is doing the same thing
- The military of the Roman Empire spent their money and the United States spends most of their money keeping the peace around the world
- Taxes in Rome became so high that people couldn't afford to pay them (one of the last things to happen before the total decline of the empire)
- Taxes were raised for building bridges, roads, and for the military
- People began loosing their jobs because they couldn't afford to pay their taxes
- Taxes became so high that the people started leaning on the government for help
- Rome collapsed economically, militarily, and was eventually taken over because they lost their will to fight because it cost too much to live
- They became so tolerant that they tolerated any religion except Christianity
- The Roman Empire began as a Republic. The United States was made up of 13 republics when the Constitution was drafted.
When the founders drafted the Constitution, by looking at history, the history that was the most influential to them was the history of the Roman world. The Roman government and the United states Constitution was designed with three branches of government. They crafted our Constitution to reflect the balanced constitution of the Roman Republic, with the sovereignty of the people guided by the wisdom of the Senate, with a powerful executive in the form of the commander in chief, the consul. We are familiar with the "checks and balances" of the three branches of government that are designed to prevent one branch from becoming supreme, and to induce the branches to cooperate. Governance systems that employ a separation of powers need a way to balance each of the branches. They knew that under such a constitution the United States would grow into an empire. They already spoke of the rising empire of America. Rome of the Caesars and the United States today are the only two absolute superpowers that have existed in history. By an absolute superpower it is meant as a nation that is dominant militarily, politically, economically, and culturally.
The Romans understood that freedom really is an ideal of three components, which are not all mutually inclusive: national freedom, freedom from foreign domination; then political freedom, the freedom to vote and to choose your magistrates; and finally, individual freedom, the freedom to live as you choose as long as you harm no one else. It was Roman law that laid the foundation for the system of jurisprudence that still governs half the world. Roman jurists who founded the law of this empire on the ideals of natural law, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It was a time of social mobility. You could begin life as a slave, purchase your freedom, and go on to become a billionaire by the standards of the day. This was the creativity of the Roman Empire in this age of individual freedom and prosperity. For two centuries it achieved its goal, but it would ultimately decline and fall, and the question is, why? Historical events come about because of human decisions that are made, and the Romans failed to solve two critical issues of foreign policy: the Middle East and Central Europe.
Iran was another factor. Iran changed from a passive to a powerfully offensive nation under a revitalized religion, a monotheist religion, the worship of Ahura Mazda, the Lord of Truth, the religion that had once been prophesied by Zoroaster. The Roman Empire was too stretched in terms of its military and other commitments. The result was to make the choice of whether they wanted to remain a free republic or be a superpower? They chose to remain a superpower and to accept the military dictatorship of Julius Caesar and his successors.
We find the following in "5 Reasons Civilizations Die: The decline and fall of the Roman Empire" By Edward Gibbon:
- The undermining and dignity of the sanctity of the home.
- Higher taxes.
- Craze for pleasure and sporting events.
- Building big armaments when the real decay is inside the country.
- Decay of religious faith.
We find the following in "Cycles that Civilizations Experience" written by Alexander Tyler in 1750:
- A democracy will always be temporary in nature.
- A democracy will continue to exist until voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. from that point on
- The majority of the nation will vote for the candidate who promises most benefits from the public treasury.
- A democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal responsibility which is always followed by a dictatorship.
Around four decades before Christ, the Roman orator Cicero offered this sound advice: "The budget should be balanced, public debt should be reduced, the treasury should be rebuilt, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and assistance to foreign hands should be curtailed, lest Rome fall." Well, the Romans didn't take his advice and guess what? Rome fell.
Businesses were put under a burden of public hostility and excessive taxation and regulation. The masses demanded their handouts and those who were most productive in Roman society were made to cough up. City administrators spent, spent, spent and, starting with the emperor Hadrian, were bailed out through a kind of "federal revenue sharing," with lots of strings attached. Does any of this sound familiar?
The greatest nation on earth today is the United States. The two main factors supporting this is that the U.S. is the economic leader in the world. Also, at this point in time, the U.S. has the strongest military of any nation. Is there any relevance with what is happening in the United States today and what occurred during the fall of the Roman Empire? One common and provable fact is that in many ways history does have a tendency to repeat itself. Not only on a worldwide scale does this happen, but in the lives of individuals as well. After all, governments and their entities are made up of people. And as part of human nature, people are prone to make the same mistakes again and again.