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of God under the Jewish dispensation could have no idea of. Let us illustrate this from the psalm before
This psalm was written on the occasion of carrying up the ark from the house of Obed-edom to Mount Zion. The ark was the symbol of the Divine presence : and the carrying it up in so solemn and triumphant a way conveyed to the spectators this important truth, that to have God nigh unto them, where he might be sought and consulted at all times, even in the very midst of them, was an inestimable privilege. But we behold in that ceremony the ascension of our blessed Lord to the heavenly Zion, whither he is gone for the benefit of all his waiting people. The character by which he is described is infinitely more intelligible to us than it could be to those who lived before his advent, and the benefit to be derived from his elevation is proportionably more clear. This will appear whilst we consider, I. The character here given of our ascended Lord
His ascension, as we have already said, was here represented
[The priests, with the Levites who bare the ark, demanded, in elevated strains, admission for it within the tabernacle that had been reared for its reception. The terms used, though not strictly applicable to the tabernacle, were proper to it in a figurative sense, as representing the heaven of heavens, the peculiar residence of the Deity. In this view it is said, “ Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors!” The Levites within the tabernacle, on hearing this demand, are represented as inquiring in whose behalf it is made, and who this King of glory is. The reply being satisfactory to those who had the charge of the tabernacle, the ark is borne in, and deposited in the place prepared for it.
Agreeably to this representation we may conceive of Jesus at his ascension, attended by a host of ministering angels, who, on their arrival at the portals of heaven, demand admission for their Divine Master. The angels within inquire who that man can be in whose behalf such a claim is made. Twice is the inquiry made, and twice the answer is returned; and on the entrance of the Lord into those heavenly mansions we may conceive that the whole celestial choir unite in one exulting acclamation, " The King of glory! the King of glory!"]
But the character here given of him deserves more attentive consideration
[The essential dignity of our Lord is that first mentioned. As “the King of glory,” and “the Lord of glory,” he could claim heaven as his own. There he had from all eternity been “ in the bosom of the Father:" there he had “had a glory with the Father before the worlds were made.” “ From thence he had descended,” for the purpose of executing the Father's will. Though he had assumed our nature, and “ was found in fashion as a man,” yet was he from all eternity "in the form of God, and thought it no robbery to be equal with God.” He was “ the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person.” He was “one with God," in glory equal, in majesty co-eternal: in a word, he was “ the mighty God," “ the great God and our Saviour,” “ God over all, blessed for evermore."
Well therefore might his attendant angels call on the hosts of heaven to open wide the portals of those glorious mansions for his admission; since the heaven of heavens were from all eternity his proper, his peculiar residence.
But he is further described as the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” The reason of his descent from heaven had been to rescue a ruined world from the dominion of sin and Satan, death and hell
. “ The god of this world” had his vassals in complete subjection : as a strong man armed he kept his house, and all his goods were in peace.” But Jesus entered into conflict with him, and “ bound him and spoiled his goods;" or, in other words, delivered from his sway millions of the human race, who had not only been “led captive by him at his will," but would ultimately have been “ bound with him in chains of everlasting darkness." True indeed, he himself received a wound in the engagement; (“his heel was bruised :") but he inflicted a deadly wound on “ the head" of his enemya, and vanquished him for ever. It may be said indeed that he himself died in the conflict: he did so, and appeared to be “crucified through weakness :" but it was not through weakness that he died, but in compliance with his own engagement to "make his soul an offering for sin." His death was to be the very means of victory: it was “through death that he overcame him that had the power of death, that is the devil, and delivered them who through fear of death were all their life-time subject to bondage.” On his cross he not only “spoiled all the principalities and powers of hell, but made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it:" and in his ascension “he led them captive," bound, as it were, to his chariot-wheels. This constituted a further claim to the mansions of heaven. It had been covenanted on his Father's part, that after his conflicts on earth he should be raised in his manhood to the right hand of God, and that, thus enthroned, he should put every enemy under his feetb. This was now to be fulfilled: the victory was gained: and nothing now remained to complete the glorious work but the installation of Messiah on his promised throne. Hence the exulting reply to the inquiry, “Who is this King of glory?” “ The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle; the Lord of Hosts, He is the King of glory!” and, as such, he comes to take possession of his throne, and calls on all the hosts of heaven to celebrate and adorn his triumphs.]
a Gen. iii. 15,
But to participate the joy expressed in our text, we should understand II. The interest we have in his ascension
It is not as a private individual that he has ascended, for then we should have mourned as Elisha did for Elijah, and as the Apostles were disposed to do, when he advertised them of his intentions to depart from them. But we have reason rather to rejoice in his departure, yea, far more than if he had continued upon earth to the present hour: for he is ascended,
1. As our Great High Priest
[The office of the High Priest was but half performed when he had slain the sacrifice: he must carry the blood within the veil, to sprinkle it upon the Mercy-seat; and he must burn incense also before the Mercy-seat. Now our blessed Lord was to execute every part of the priestly office; and therefore he must carry his own blood within the veil, and present also before the Mercy-seat the incense of his continual intercession. Agreeably to this we are told, “ that by his own blood he is entered into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption for us ;” that “ he is
of God for us;" and that “he ever liveth to make intercession for usd.” What a blessed thought is this ! Have I a doubt whether my sins shall be forgiven? Behold, he is at this very moment pleading in his Father's presence the merit of his blood, which is a sufficient "propitiation not for my sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Have I a doubt whether God will hear my unworthy petitions ? Behold, Jesus, my Great High Priest, will secure, by his own prevailing intercession, an everlasting acceptance both of my person and services at the hands of Almighty God.]
b Ps. cx. 1. c John xiv. 28. d Heb. vii. 25. and ix. 12, 24.
2. As our living Head
[Jesus is the Head and Representative of his people; insomuch that they may not improperly be said to be even at this time “sitting in and with him in heavenly places.” But he is also our Head of vital influence, having all fulness of spiritual blessings treasured up in him, in order that we may receive out of it according to our necessities'. Adam at first had, as it were, a treasure of grace committed to his own custody; and he lost it even in Paradise. How much more then should we lose it, who are corrupt creatures in a corrupt world, if it were again left in our own keeping! But God has now taken more effectual care for us. He has given us into the hands of his own Son: and our life is now placed out of the reach of our great Adversary; "it is hid with Christ in God." Do we want wisdom, or righteousness, or sanctification, or complete redemption? it is all treasured up for us in Christ, who “ is made all unto us!." It is out of his inexhaustible fulness that we all receivel: and, as the sun in the firmament is the one source of all the light that we, or any other of the planets, receive, so is Christ, of all the spiritual blessings that are enjoyed on earth: “ He is head over all things to the Church ;” and “ he filleth all in alli"] 3. As the Forerunner of all his people
[By that very name is he called, in reference to his entrance within the veilk. Indeed previous to his departure he expressly told his disciples, that he was going to prepare a place for them, in order at a future period to come and take them to himself, that they might be with him for ever! He is gone up to heaven as the first-fruits, which sanctified and assured the whole harvestm. Soon is he coming again from thence, to take home his people who wait for him. Not one will he leave behind. At whatever period or place they died, they “shall hear his voice," they shall “meet him in the air, they shall be ever with the Lordn.” When he was upon the earth he appeared like other men, and died laden with the iniquities of a ruined world: but in due time he will appear again, without sin, in all the glory of his Father and of his holy angels, to the complete and everlasting salvation of all who look for himo “Wherefore comfort one another with these words."] IMPROVEMENT
e Eph. ii. 6. i Col. ii. 9.
& 1 Cor. i. 30.
I's our blessed Lord ascended to the highest heavens ? then, 1. Let our affections be where He is
[This is the improvement which St. Paul himself teaches us to make of this subject P
What is there worth a thought, in comparison of this adorable Saviour, who has died for us, and is yet every moment occupied in the great work of our salvation, exerting all his influence with the Father in our behalf, and communicating continually to our souls all needful supplies of grace and strength? ---]
2. Let our dependence be upon him
[It may be said, that, having been quickened from the dead, we have now a new and spiritual life within us; but it must not be forgotten, that the life we have is not so committed to us, that we have it in, and of, ourselves : as light in our dwellings is derived from, and altogether dependent on, the sun in the firmament, so is the life that is infused into our souls entirely derived from, and dependent on, the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence St. Paul says, “I live: yet not I; but Christ liveth in me: and then he adds, “ And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for meq." Thus it must be with us: we must remember that “all our fresh springs are in him:" and from him must we derive all our vital energy, as branches from the stock, and as members from the head. A life of faith on him is equally necessary for every human being: in ourselves we are all wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; and to him must we equally be indebted for eye-salve to restore our sight, for raiment to cover us, and for gold to enrich our souls'. To him must we go for it from day to day; and from him must we obtain it, “without money
and without price."]
3. Let us be looking forward to, and preparing for, a similar entrance into his glory
[St. Paul assures us, that “when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory ." Yes; as soon as ever the judgment shall be past, then shall he, at the head of his redeemed people, demand admission for them all into the highest heavens: “Lift up, &c. &c. and the King of glory, with all his redeemed, shall enter in.” What shouts will then resound throughout all the courts of heaven! “The King of glory! The King of glory!" No other name will then be heard but that of our Redeeming God, to whom all possible
Col. iii. 1, 2. with Phil. iï. 17, 20. r Rev. iii. 17, 18. s Isai. lv. 1.
q Gal. iii. 20.