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Light and Truth: The Old Testament: Chapter 47 - The Gifts of the Ascended One

By Horatius Bonar

      "Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them." -- Psalm 68:18

      THIS psalm is of and for Messiah. It is He whose name is Jah,--the Lord God of Israel,--He is addressed throughout this psalm as God. It is this psalm which the apostle quotes in Ephesians (4:8), and interprets of Christ and His ascension. It is Christ that David here addresses, "Thou hast ascended on high."

      I. The ascension. This is the last point of Messiah's earthly history, and sums up the whole. But according to the interpretation of Paul, it includes all that went before, "what is but that He also descended! The ascent reminds us of a descent. He descended to Bethlehem; and then He descended to Joseph's tomb. After that all was ascension; and the expression of our text includes or rather expresses resurrection. He went down into the lower parts of the earth; he came up again; and then he went on high. This ascending was the completion of his work; the carrying out of His love; the Father's testimony of personal acceptance and delight; and His seal to the absolute perfection of the work for which He descended. It was a real ascension; a glorious one; a very exalted one; far above all principalities and powers; to the Father's throne. "We see Jesus crowned with glory and honour." All heaven is His; and He has entered into possession of His heavenly inheritance. All power is given to Him in heaven and in earth. He filleth all things. The universe now is His.

      II. The triumph. "Thou hast led captivity captive." Whether this refers to His leading forth His redeemed out of their captivity, or leading into captivity those who held them bound, the triumph is the same, and the words point to the same event,--the same enemies, the same battle, the same victory. It is Messiah's triumph; over His enemies, the Father's, and ours. The warfare is that predicted in Paradise, between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. That warfare concerns .us; it is for us. He who fights is the captain of our salvation. The battle went on during the ages before He came; it came to a head on the cross; it is not yet finished; and the full consummation of the triumph is reserved for His second coming, when He binds Satan and casts him into the bottomless pit. Then shall He complete His triumph; and shew that He is more than conqueror. Meanwhile His victory upon the cross is ours.

      He has fought our battle, and won our victory. "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." What enemy can prevail? No weakness of ours can dismay us. We glory in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us. Let us then fight the good fight. The foe is already routed by our Captain; it is only with his broken and scattered troops that we have to do.

      III. The recompense. "Thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also." Thus the Father rewards His faithful service. Not only does He receive the Spirit without measure for Himself; but the gifts of the Spirit for others. This is the apt recompense of His self-emptying. He emptied Himself, therefore hath the Father filled Him; filled Him with the Spirit; filled Him with the Spirit's mighty and manifold gifts. Much of the Spirit was given before He came; we read of the Spirit filling holy men; but much was reserved for His glorification, that the connection between Him and the gift of the Spirit might be manifested. When He was glorified, the pentecostal shower came down; the residue of the Spirit was given. This fullness of the Spirit was,--

      (1.) For men; not for angels, but men; not for heaven, but for earth. It was as the ascended God-man that He received the Spirit, for those whose nature He took. "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh;" not on the unfallen, but fallen sons of Adam.

      (2.) For the rebellious. For those who stand farthest off; full of enmity and resistance. Not for the good, but the evil. As of the Son of man on earth, so of Him in heaven, we may say, "He came to seek that which was lost; not to call the righteous, but sinners."

      Thus Christ has received the Spirit for sinners; as Egypt's corn was entrusted to Joseph for the hungry. Go to Him who has the seven spirits of God; deal with Him who freely dispenses this Spirit. Come to the waters. If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.

      IV. The final result. "That the Lord God might dwell among them." God had been driven from earth, from among men. His object is to return; and all that He has done in and through Christ is to secure that return. He does this,--

      (1.) By incarnation. The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. God thus tabernacled with men.

      (2.) By the cross. It is the propitiation that makes it a righteous thing for God thus to dwell. It is the blood that brings it about. No blood, no indwelling.

      (3.) By the Holy Ghost. It is this that is referred to in our text. The Spirit purchased by the blood comes down and comes in.

      He has been doing this in individual souls. They are the habitation of the Spirit; temples of the Holy Ghost. He is yet to do so more conspicuously when Jesus comes the second time. Then shall this prophecy be fulfilled. The tabernacle of God shall be with men; God shall be with them, their God. Earth shall be full of the Holy Ghost, and glorious with His gifts.

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See Also:
   Chapter 1 - The Old and New Creation
   Chapter 2 - The Link Between Being and Non-Being
   Chapter 3 - A Happy World
   Chapter 4 - The Sin, the Sinner, and the Sentence
   Chapter 5 - Man's Fig-Leaves
   Chapter 6 - Expulsion and Re-Entrance
   Chapter 7 - The Blood of Sprinkling and the Blood of Abel
   Chapter 8 - The Way of Cain
   Chapter 9 - The Man of Rest
   Chapter 10 - Going Out and Keeping Out
   Chapter 11 - The Shield and the Recompense
   Chapter 12 - Liberty and Service
   Chapter 13 - The Day of Despair
   Chapter 14 - The Blood of Deliverance
   Chapter 15 - How God Deals with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 16 - The Fire Quenched
   Chapter 17 - The Vision from the Rocks
   Chapter 18 - The Doom of the Double-Hearted
   Chapter 19 - Be Not Borderers
   Chapter 20 - The Outlines of a Saved Sinner's History
   Chapter 21 - Divine Longings Over the Foolish
   Chapter 22 - What a Believing Man Can Do
   Chapter 23 - Song of the Putting Off of the Armour
   Chapter 24 - The Kiss of the Backslider
   Chapter 25 - The Priestly Word of Peace
   Chapter 26 - Human Anodynes
   Chapter 27 - Spiritual and Carnal Weapons
   Chapter 28 - Divine Silence and Human Despair
   Chapter 29 - Jewish Unbelief and Gentile Blessing
   Chapter 30 - The Restoration of the Banished
   Chapter 31 - The Farewell Gift
   Chapter 32 - God's Dealing with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 33 - God Finding a Resting-Place
   Chapter 34 - The Moriah Group
   Chapter 35 - Diverse Kinds of Conscience
   Chapter 36 - The Soul Turning from Man to God
   Chapter 37 - Man's Dislike of a Present God
   Chapter 38 - True and False Consolation
   Chapter 39 - Gain and Loss for Eternity
   Chapter 40 - Man's Misconstruction of the Works of God
   Chapter 41 - The Two Cries and the Two Answers
   Chapter 42 - The Knowledge of God's Name
   Chapter 43 - Deliverance from Deep Waters
   Chapter 44 - The Excellency of the Divine Loving-Kindness
   Chapter 45 - The Sickness, the Healer, and the Healing
   Chapter 46 - The Consecration of Earth's Gold and Silver
   Chapter 47 - The Gifts of the Ascended One
   Chapter 48 - The Speaker, the Listener, the Peace
   Chapter 49 - The Believing Man's Confident Appeal
   Chapter 50 - The Love and the Deliverance
   Chapter 51 - The Sin and Folly of Being Unhappy
   Chapter 52 - The Book of Books
   Chapter 53 - The Secret of Deliverance from Evil
   Chapter 54 - The Voice of the Heavenly Bridegroom
   Chapter 55 - The Love that Passeth Knowledge
   Chapter 56 - The Vision of the Glory
   Chapter 57 - Man's Extremity and Satan's Opportunity
   Chapter 58 - The Day of Clear Vision to the Dim Eyes
   Chapter 59 - The Unfainting Creator and the Fainting Creature
   Chapter 60 - The Knowledge that Justifies
   Chapter 61 - The Heritage and its Title-Deeds
   Chapter 62 - The Meeting Between the Sinner and God
   Chapter 63 - God's Love and God's Way of Blessing
   Chapter 64 - Divine Jealousy for the Truth
   Chapter 65 - Divine Love and Human Rejection of it
   Chapter 66 - God's Desire to Bless the Sinner
   Chapter 67 - The Resting-Place Forgotten
   Chapter 68 - The Day that Will Right all Wrongs
   Chapter 69 - The Glory and the Love
   Chapter 70 - False Religion and its Doom
   Chapter 71 - No Breath No Life
   Chapter 72 - Every Christian a Teacher
   Chapter 73 - Work, Rest, and Recompence
   Chapter 74 - Human Heedlessness and Divine Remembrance
   Chapter 75 - Lies the Food of Man
   Chapter 76 - The Love and the Calling
   Chapter 77 - The Anger and the Goodness
   Chapter 78 - Darkness Pursuing the Sinner
   Chapter 79 - Jerusalem the Centre of the World's Peace
   Chapter 80 - Jerusalem and Her King
   Chapter 81 - Looking to the Pierced One
   Chapter 82 - The Holiness of Common Things
   Chapter 83 - Wearying Jehovah with our Words
   Chapter 84 - Dies Irae


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