by Stan Mitchell

A baseball umpire had a reputation for mean and surly behavior. One Sunday morning the umpire asked his son to jump in his lap as the father read the Sunday funnies to him. But the boy refused because the son never sits on the brutish umpire.

This homophone is based on the old saying that “The sun never set on the British Empire.”

At the turn of the 20th century, the greatest city on earth was not New York, or Moscow, or Beijing; it was London. And her benevolent rule extended from the diamond mines of Kimberly, to the “Black Hole” of Calcutta, to Vancouver, British Colombia.

It was an empire that would have turned Julius Caesar green with envy. The House of Commons debated, not just water reclamation for south London, but economic strategies for India, Kenya and Ceylon.

Today Britain, while still a first world nation, is no longer a world power with a far-flung empire. If the sun hasn’t set, it is certainly going down in the western skies.

When I was a child in southern Africa, I lived in one of the vestiges of the British Empire. In the latter part of the 20th Century, there were two super powers, the Soviet Union and the United States, locked in what many believed was a death grip. Then, suddenly, there was only one super power, the United States of America.

Today many wonder of China will be the next super power. Or India.

I don’t mean to deride or demean any nation or people, simply to observe this important truth: God is in control of all nations, and when they rise, it is God who allows them to do so, and when they fall, it is at his behest.

Who knows why the Lord of all the nations chooses to allow one people to rise for a time and enjoy a period of glory? And who knows what His agenda is when he determines that a nation should fall?

We know nations that ignore God’s right decrees will not stand forever.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).

There have been those who have observed a decline in America’s fortunes, too. I wonder if the answer really lies in a better economics policy or with the superior ethics lifestyle of its people?

We also know, or we should, that there is something going on that is more important, and more lasting than the survival of any mere earthly nation. Nations rise and fall, but God’s word, and his will are forever.

“Before the mountains were born, or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting, you are God (Psalm 90:2).

Nothing on earth remains the same. Friends come and go, leaders rise and fall, even the power of the nations waxes and wanes. But there is one whose sun will never set.

We need to hold to God’s unchanging hand.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan began preaching in 1976, and worked in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He served as preacher with the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He was Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He was married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He authored five books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs; Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song; Equipping the Saints for Ministry; and Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation. Stan passed away 19 Feb. 2019.

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