Solomon said there was “nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). He was right in so many ways. A comparison of 21st century American culture closely resembles ancient biblical days. Recently, I was struck by a story in the Old Testament book of Judges, chapters 17 and 18, which closely mirrors our secular society. I’m sure you can add even more to the analysis.
Nothing New Under the Sun: A Moral Malaise
The book of Judges recounts difficult years in the lives of God’s chosen people.
And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.Joshua 2:10
God rebukes the Israelites, through his angel, in Judges 2:2. The angel says Israel has not obeyed the voice of God. Then in verse 10, we read of a new generation of Israelites who did not know the Lord. Succeeding generations would experience spiritual highs and lows. Eventually, Israel seems to have become more like the surrounding nations than God’s holy people.
In Judges 17, we read of a family marked by serious moral failings. A man steals from his mother. When he hears that she has uttered a curse against the thief, he returns the money. In her joy, she devotes a portion of the stolen money to the Lord. Sadly, she instructs that the money be used to craft an idol god. Her son creates a shrine to the idol God in his own home and appoints his son to be a priest. Later, a real Levite priest arrives at the man’s home and accepts employment for his room, board, and ten pieces of silver a year. He was comfortable in that home until a raiding party entices him to go with them. The pursuit of money and power drives this so-called priest.
There is nothing new under the sun. Moral collapse marks our society to such an extent that people no longer think anything of it. Crime within families, confusion of Godly worship with worldly worship, preachers who craft their preaching for the highest bidder confirm a wayward, secularized world. Our world is broken!
Nothing New Under the Sun: An Estrangement from God
Israel’s up-again-down-again relationship with God would eventually collapse. Enslavement by pagan nations would barely improve Israel’s dependence on the Lord. By the time of Jesus, the Jewish King was an Idumean. The priesthood rotated among the favored sons of the High Priest. Even the sacred Holy of Holies was empty; the Ark of the Covenant was gone. The religious leaders opposed and killed the prophesied Redeemer.
This estrangement finally brought an end to Biblical Israel. Roman armies overpowered the Jews in 70 AD and destroyed the last Temple. Judaism, existing from Sinai (Exodus 20) to the time of Christ and beyond, was ended.
When will our society face its 70 AD? When will judgment fall upon us as it did Israel? One thing is clear: Any nation that forgets God is doomed (Psalm 9:17; 50:22; Jeremiah 18:15). We are not different. Indeed, there is nothing new under the sun.
Despite being founded on some Godly principles, our culture has drifted from God. But remember that culture, society, and the nation are composed of individuals. We have slogged through sin until we no longer recognize righteousness. Like Israel, we will drift further and further from truth.
The greater question is how we got here. There are two answers. We have failed to study our Bibles personally, and we have failed to teach the Bible to our children. Until we correct these two deficiencies, we will continue to spiral downward toward destruction.