We have been studying Ancient Rome. The Romans, for the most part, did not have a loving relationship with the one true God. They did, however, believe in gods that were higher than them. There was not an enforced state religion although the emperors encouraged different religions.
Why did Rome succeed so much? After all, there where hundreds if not thousands of little farming villages in Italy; so why Rome? A big factor in her success was unity. Whenever the Romans would take over a country or province, they would make the captured peoples citizens of Rome. Because of this kindness, when Rome was attacking other cities, the defending armies would sometimes actually WANT to be captured so that they could be a part of Rome’s unified system.
So since Rome had so much unity, why did it fall? There is no Roman empire today so what happened to it? Well Rome went through three major political stages: a Monarchy, then a Republic, and finally an Empire. Throughout the Monarchy and the Republic, Romans had a sense of duty and patriotism. But by the end of the Empire, Romans had lost this sense and relied on the government for free corn and circuses to keep them happy. This is not the purpose of government. The purpose of government can be found in Romans 13:3-4; “…He is God’s servant to do you good but if you do wrong be afraid for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer…do what is right and he will commend you.” They did not care about other people and often through weak or crippled babies out to die. Christians often found these babies and cared for them. Romans fathers did not like this because they wanted to have control over their families even to the extent of life and death. The emperors persecuted Christians for this and other reasons. These included when Nero accused them of lighting the fire in Rome, that they had an absolute right and wrong to govern things by, and that they would not follow the tradition of Emperor Worship. There standard for right and wrong was the Bible. Most Romans did not have an absolute standard because with every new emperor, their basis of right and wrong would change. They did not participate in the emperor worship because they considered it idolatry. Most other Romans were polytheists, so they just incorporated the emperor as another god.
Finally, what can we learn from Ancient Rome? One thing that I learned from our study of Rome is when government has no structure, it will collapse. The Romans had no real answers for life’s major questions. Thus, Rome fell. As Mr. Francis Shaffer said: “The barbarians did not destroy Rome, they just finished the collapse.” The Roman Empire did not go all to waste though. God chose to have his son live during this period in history because Rome had such great roads for the gospel to travel on. It would have been much harder to get the good news of the gospel to get out to people without these roads.