What sorrow awaits you who lounge in luxury in Jerusalem,
and you who feel secure in Samaria!
You are famous and popular in Israel,
and people go to you for help.
But go over to Calneh
and see what happened there.
Then go to the great city of Hamath
and down to the Philistine city of Gath.
You are no better than they were,
and look at how they were destroyed.
You push away every thought of coming disaster,
but your actions only bring the day of judgment closer. (NLT)
The history of our human world is littered with instances of great empires rising and falling. It seems no human power lasts. Nations and individuals have their moment of glory, or infamy, and they are overthrown.
Usually these powerful nations and people figured they would last forever. Or more realistically, those in power resolved to make the most of their elevated status before the inevitable fall. Money was to be made, conquests completed, egos massaged, before any fall from power.
Those who hold power in the great powers have to realise that all such authority is transient. Some will die while still on the top, some will die disillusioned and broken, their power a mere memory. But all will die, and all empires and power structures change and decay in time.
Much as our text says. The so-called people of God have become complacent. They are lapping up the luxury of having a relative sort of power and prosperity. They are urged by the prophet to remember what happened to other great local empires.
Empires and powers come and go, and none can claim permanency. All they can do is to act and speak in such a way as to leave some positive legacy behind them. All they can do is to acknowledge the ultimate power of a sovereign Creator. It doesn’t generally happen. Those in power don’t like to share power.