"THE KINGDOMS OF EARTH PASS AWAY"
"And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom…and it shall stand forever" (Dan. 2.44)
INTRO.: A hymn which affirms that the prophesied kingdom that God has set up will stand forever is "The Kingdoms of Earth Pass Away" (#506 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #218 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Henry R. Trickett (1840-1909). A native of Illinois and a preacher among churches of Christ and Christian Churches in the late 1800’s, he also authored "Blessed Are They That Do His Commandments" and "In The Desert Of Sorrow And Sin." The tune for "The Kingdoms of Earth Pass Away" was composed by James Henry Fillmore (1849-1936). The song was copyrighted in 1884 by Fillmore Brothers and first published in Fillmore’s New Christian Hymn and Tune Book, Part III, of 1887. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, it appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) edited by E. L. Jorgenson; and the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson. Today, to my knowledge, it is found only in Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections, as well as the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song contrasts the nature of the Lord’s kingdom with the kingdoms of men.
I. Stanza 1 emphasizes its eternal nature
"The kingdoms of earth pass away one by one,
But the kingdom of heaven remains;
It is built on a rock and the Lord is its King,
And forever and ever He reigns."
A. The kingdom of heaven remains because it is the eternal kingdom of God: 2 Pet. 1.11
B. Its eternal nature is ensured because it is built in a rock as a sure foundation: 1 Cor. 3.11, 10.4
C. Furthermore, its King is the Lord who reigns forever and ever: Rev. 11.15 (As usual, Ellis J. Crum, in Sacred Selections, changed the last line of this stanza to read, "Till all foes Christ shall conquer He reigns," using language from 1 Cor. 15.24-25, apparently under the notion, which I believe mistaken, that when Christ does deliver the kingdom to the Father He will cease to reign in any sense, and perhaps that to believe otherwise is premillennialism. However, I understand that while Christ will give up the unique reign that He now has over the church He will continue to reign forever and ever as God the Son in heaven. However you may understand this, it seems to me that if the Bible says, "He shall reign forever and ever," then we ought to be able to sing it!)
II. Stanza 2 emphasizes its protection
"The tempest may rage and the hurricane roar,
Yea, the wind and the torrents descend,
And the strong gates of hell may assail it in vain,
For the kingdom shall stand till the end."
A. The tempest, hurricane, wind, and torrents all represent the rage of the spiritual enemies of the Lord’s kingdom in their attempt to fight against it: Eph. 6.12 (I have no idea why Christian Hymns edited by L. O. Sanderson changed the last part of the the first line to "and its anger acclaim," an alteration followed by R. J. Stevens and Dane K. Shepard in Hymns for Worship.)
B. We may be sure that the forces of evil will continue to assail the kingdom just as the gates of Hades sought to prevent Jesus from establishing His church: Matt. 16.18
C. But they will do so in vain because the Lord will protect His kingdom so that it will stand till the end and never be shaken: Heb. 12.28
III. Stanza 3 emphasizes its openness
"The kingdom of God is now open to all,
E’en the vilest may now enter in;
There’s a welcome for all who will turn to the Lord,
Full salvation and pardon for sin."
A. The kingdom of God is now open to all because the gospel that is to be preached to every creature says whosoever will may come: Mk. 16.15-16, Rev. 22.17
B. Even the vilest may now enter in because all manner of sin will be forgiven to those who truly repent: Mk. 3.28, Acts 2.38
C. Therefore, a welcome for all, full salvation, and pardon for sin are available through the blood of Christ: Eph. 1.7
CONCL.: The chorus continues to stress the eternal nature of the kingdom of God.
"It shall stand, it shall stand,
Forever and ever and ever;
It shall stand, it shall stand,
Forever and ever, Amen and amen."
This history of this earth has seen great empires come and go. Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Greece, and Rome each in turn ruled the known earth, but none of them exist as such any longer. However, some 2,000 years ago, God set up His kingdom with Jesus Christ as King, and it still exists and will continue to exist forever while "The Kingdoms Of Earth Pass Away."