Perhaps the greatest example of the folly of placing worldly priorities ahead of spiritual ones is provided by the Roman Empire. Rome’s dominating power controlled the entire known world when this letter was written. This epistle was probably written to Jewish Christians living in Rome; the threat to them came from the Roman government with the help of the Jewish synagogue. What could have been more impressive in that day, more stable, or more lasting than the Roman Empire? If one had asked, “Which is going to last? The Roman Empire or Christianity?” people would have laughed! They would have cried, “Rome will last forever!” They would have pointed to its pomp and pageantry as mere symbols of its eternal power and glory.
But from our perspective things look quite different. In time, Rome would pit all its strength against the gospel and the followers of Jesus Christ. But in the end it was Rome that capitulated. Before long, the “eternal city” was overrun by barbarians, its statues crashed to the ground, and its buildings were looted and burned and crumbled. But the gospel of Jesus Christ, that voice that comes from heaven, has endured to this day and it shall endure forever. It endures because it is built on truth, not on worldly pretensions—because it is truth. It endures because it is the Word of God. The prophet Isaiah put it well: “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.… The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isa. 40:6–8).
For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.
much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.