the Second Week of Advent
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Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
“Thou hast ascended on high.”
Luke commences the Acts of the Apostles with a kind of preface which runs thus
Acts 1:7 , Acts 1:8
Humble waiting upon God, and joyful work for him, are the best cures for excessive curiosity.
Acts 1:10 , Acts 1:11
When we stand gazing and. trifling, the consideration of our Master’s second coming should quicken and awaken us; when we stand gazing and trembling, the same truth should comfort and encourage us.
Acts 1:12 , Acts 1:14
Prayer welded them together; we hear no more of those strifes, which were once so frequent, as to which of them should be the greatest.
Acts 1:15 , Acts 1:16
What a gentle way of putting it. Harsh words are not to be used even of the worst of men. One is glad to hear Peter speaking thus calmly, surely he was made tender by the memory of his own fall.
No instance of the use of the lot occurs after the Spirit was given. It was an Old Testament custom, and to use it now would be idle superstition.
“Lift up your heads, O ye gates.”
The psalmist David saw by the eye of prophecy the ascension of our Lord, and sang of it in Psalms 24.
All creation belongs unto the Lord, and the whole universe is his domain; but there is an abode of special glory where he more fully reveals himself to those whom he regards as peculiarly his own. The psalmist asks who these can be, and how it is that they are qualified to climb the kill whereon the divine palace is built. He describes their character and their leader.
Psalms 24:4 , Psalms 24:5
None can enter but the altogether pure in life and motive, the faithful and the upright. Jesus alone of our race perfectly answers to this description, and therefore he it is who leads the way and opens heavens gate for those whom he has made meet to enter.
These verses reveal to us the great representative man, who answered to the full character laid down, and therefore by his own right ascended the holy hill of Zion. We see him rising from amidst the little group upon Olivet, and as the cloud receives him, angels reverently escort him to the gates of heaven. The ancient gates of the eternal temple are personified and called upon “ to lift up their heads,” as though, with all their glory, they were not great enough for the all-glorious King. Let the highest heavens put on unusual loftiness in honour of “ the King of glory.”
The watchers at the gate, hearing the song, look over the battlements and ask “ Who is this King of glory? ” A question full of meaning and worthy of the meditation of eternity. Who is he in person, nature, character, office, and work? What is his pedigree? what his rank and what his race? The answer given in a mighty wave of music is, “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle? We know the might of Jesus by his victories over sin, death, and hell, and we clap our hands as we see him leading captivity captive in the majesty of his strength.
The words are repeated with a pleasing variation. There are times of deep, earnest feeling when repetitions are not vain, but full of force. Doors were often taken from their hinges when easterns would show welcome to a guest, and some doors were drawn up like a portcullis, and may possibly have protruded from the top; thus literally lifting up their heads. The picture is highly poetical, and shows how wide heavens gate is set by the ascension of our Lord. Blessed be God, it has never since been closed. The open gates of heaven invite the weakest believer to enter.
The closing note is inexpressibly grand. Jehovah of hosts, Lord of men and angels, is the King of glory, and he it is who, having once descended to earth, now returns to his throne. The ascended Saviour is here declared to be the Head and Crown of the universe, the King of Glory. Our Immanuel is hymned in sublimest strains: Jesus of Nazareth is Jehovah Sabaoth.
Our Lord is risen from the dead;
Our Jesus is gone up on high;
The powers of hell are captive led
Dragg’d to the portals of the sky.
There his triumphal chariot waits,
And angels chant the solemn lay;
“Lift up your heads, ye heavenly gates!
Ye everlasting doors, give way.”
“Who is the King of glory, who?”
The Lord of glorious power possess’d,
The King of saints and angels too:
God over all, for ever bless’d!