Our children like to stretch their imaginations with “what if?” Most of it is playful speculation such as, “What if the sky was green and the grass was blue . . . ?” but “what ifs” can stir up needless worry too. Somewhere in between silly fun and unnecessary anxiety is common sense . . . the kind that thinks ahead and determines steps to take to avoid consequences that otherwise might happen.
“What if . . . ?” is not always an easy question to answer. No one can accurately predict the future. However, the old saying, “History repeats itself” has some merit. Wise people consider cause/effect relationships, examining the evidence of the past.
Edward Gibbon, an English historian did just that. In 1787, he completed a book called The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He came up with the following reasons for the collapse of that mighty nation:
1) Higher and higher taxes and spending of public money for free food and entertainment for the populace;
2) A mad craze for pleasure; with sporting events becoming more exciting and brutal every year;
3) The rapid increase of divorce; undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, the base of human society;
4) Building gigantic armaments when the real enemy was within, the decadence of the people;
5) The decay of religion -- faith fading into mere form -- losing touch with life and becoming impotent to guide the people.
When I read this, I couldn’t help but ask, “What if . . . ?”
1) What if lazy people were not fed unless they worked? What if the fearful trusted the Lord for daily needs? What if the helpless could depend on the prosperous to take care of them? (2 Thess.3:10; Matt.6:33; 2 Cor.8:12-15)
2) What if all people abandoned their search for pleasure in things that don’t last or never fully satisfy? What if they turned to eternal things for eternal joy and lasting contentment? (John 10:10; Phil.4:11)
3) What if all husbands loved their wives as much as themselves? What if fathers carefully brought up their children just as the Lord nurtures His children? What if every wife responded to her husband as the church is to respond to Jesus Christ? (Ephesians 5:18-6:4)
4) What if all people realized that no nation can be strong and healthy physically, morally, and spiritually unless the individuals within that nation are collectively moving toward righteous goals? (Proverbs 14:34)
5) What if “religion” was abandoned, and in its place people sought a living relationship with the Living God? What if all Christians put scriptural principles into practice instead of going through the motions?
Second Chronicles 7:14 is God’s response: “(What) if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways?”.... “then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Society all around is crumbling like the ruins of ancient Rome. “Experts” believe that the answers include higher taxes and greater welfare systems, increased recreation and vicarious outlets for stress and aggression, easily available divorce for failing marriages, open relationships instead of committed families, star-wars and nuclear weapons to protect us, and the abolishing of all religion!
It appears that the wisdom of the day not only rejects the Word of God but has also become so oblivious to its decay and fall that for our ills it prescribes the very things that are destroying us!