By Sam Sewell
The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall
Exodus 18:21 Select capable men from all the people--men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain--and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.,
The United States of America is teetering on the edge of a perilous precipice, overlooking the bone yard of history. A forensic study of the bone yard of nations, empires, and cultures reveals a common cause of death; they all collapsed under their own weight.
It is also true that the bigger they are, the more likely they are to fall. It often happens quickly, when a paradigm shift that has been building for decades gradually reaches the tipping point, and everyone is shocked because they were too blind to see it coming.
The purpose of this essay is to show that the dynamics behind the demise of nations are endemic to reality, and constitute a laser straight imperative which manifests in all aspects of human endeavor. If we stray from that imperative we will experience tragedy and failure, whether it is the sinking of a ship, the failure of a business, or the collapse of a nation.
I intend to illustrate the application of these imperative principles of reality by giving examples from different arenas.
Let's start with religion. The people of the tribal confederacy that became the nation of Israel began to ask for "a king, like the other nations." Samuel was the leader of Israel at the time, and he advised against such a move. Samuel was the last of the Hebrew judges, and the first of the Major Prophets who began to prophesy inside the land of Israel. He was thus at the cusp between two eras. Samuel warned the people what would happen if they got what they were asking for; "These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots, and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots.And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war, and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards, and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day."
And so a theocracy was abandoned and a monarchy was born. In later days the more the people attempted to centralize power, the worse became the fate of Israel. Eventually it became possible to destroy Israel because the strategic strength of tribal diversity was gone and power was all centralized in one place.
Babylon took advantage of that weakness and destroyed the nation of Israel, only to fall prey to the same vulnerability of centralized political structure when Cyrus of Persia came to power. (See next section on historical examples)
An even worse fate befell Christianity. For the first three centuries of Christianity people gathered in their homes and worshipped, as was customary for their local brand of the Christian faith. There was no official Christian religion. Many of the traditions and writings of the early church were excluded by the state sponsored version of Christianity. By the end of forth century AD the Christianity of Jesus and Paul no longer existed.
In February 313, Constantine met with Licinius in Milan, where they developed the Edict of Milan. The edict stated that Christians should be allowed to follow their faith without oppression. This removed the penalties for professing Christianity, and all confiscated religious property was returned. The edict protected from religious persecution not only Christians but all religions, allowing anyone to worship whichever deity they chose.
Soon Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Worse than the time of Samuel in ancient Israel, when a theocracy was replaced by a monarchy, Christianity merged with an already existent worldly empire. Christianity did not begin to recover from that tragic merging until the Reformation rescued both Protestants and Catholics. Since that time the ecclesiastical hierarchy of much of the Christian church, both Catholic and Protestant, has taken on the traits of collective authority. The present day "Church" may also be teetering on the brink of an abyss.
In recent times there has emerged a decentralizing movement back to the "house churches" of Christianity's beginnings, thus strengthening the foundation of Christianity and protecting it from a sudden, hard fall.