Grace Protestant Reformed Church

He Led Captivity Captive

Date: PM (Ascension Day)
Text: Psalm 68:18
Psalters: 170, 303, 129, 183
  1. The figure.
    1. A king ascends a hill to take his throne.
      1. He does so after conquering an enemy which had previously held him a captive.
      2. This picture has prisoners following him as he ascends to his throne.
      3. Many gifts are given to the king as he ascends approaching his throne – tokens of reward, submission, and honor.
    2. Two possible occasions for this scene.
      1. The elevation of David to the combined throne of Judah and Israel.
      2. The bringing of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem.
    3. Both occasions displayed God’s ascending to a position of triumphant rule.
  2. Jesus was victorious after first descending (Eph. 4:8,9).
    1. He descended from glory.
      1. He came down from heaven to assume our flesh and blood.
      2. This was necessary in order to do battle with that which held His people captive.
    2. Sin’s captivity is broken only by sin’s punishment being endured and satisfied.
      1. Jesus entered into the prison house of death and divine wrath when He came in our flesh and blood (Heb. 2:14).
      2. And He establishes, by His Spirit, a rule in us so we realize that we do not have to sin, that we can put it off.
    3. In raising Jesus from the dead, God declares that Jesus (in our flesh and blood) may ascended to God’s right hand.
      1. He leads a great band of captives, as trophies of His almighty grace – justified.
      2. He makes the former captives free to serve Him willingly in His kingdom – sanctified.
  3. The result is covenant communion: “Jehovah God might dwell among them.”
    1. The rebellious (all of us, by nature) are now ruled by Jesus.
    2. When He dwells with us, He distributes to us the gifts He receives.
      1. Paul is inspired to interpret our text this way: Jesus first received gifts and then distributes those gifts to His people.
      2. The gifts consist primarily of the means to communicate the gospel as the means of grace (Eph. 4:11).
    3. Notice that all of Jesus’ enemies are forced into submission, as an effect of the gospel.
    4. Acknowledge Jesus’ ascension by putting ourselves under the preaching of the gospel.