IV. IN THE STAGE OF HIS ASCENSION
A. Leading Captive Those Who Were Captured
by Satan because of Sin and Death, and Taking
Them with Him Triumphantly in His Ascension
Isaiah 53:12a says, "Therefore I [Jehovah God] will divide to Him [the ascended Christ] a portion with the Great, / And He will divide the spoil with the Strong." The word spoil in this verse is very significant. It indicates that there was a war. Without a war there could be no spoil. Spoil signifies prey, and prey denotes captives taken in a war. The word spoil indicates that a war was fought and someone won that war, and the winner got the prey, the captives, the spoil. This one word opens a wide window to us, enabling us to see the invisible scene of a war. Christ, the One who won that war, divided the spoil with the Great and the Strong. Here, the Great and the Strong refer to God. God is the Great, and God is also the Strong. As the Great, He received the honor from Christ’s ascension, and as the Strong, He gained the victory. So the two, Christ and the strong and great One, shared the spoil with each other.
This indicates that in Christ’s ascension there was a demonstration of Christ’s victory by the sharing of the captives, the spoil, the prey, taken in Christ’s victory. Isaiah 53:12a, just one half of a verse, is the only portion in Isaiah 53 that speaks concerning Christ’s ascension. But this half verse, with the demonstration of Christ’s victory by the sharing of the prey, opens a wide window to us. God the Father was the Great and also the Strong, and God the Son was the Fighter. He fought the battle on the cross and in His resurrection. He won the battle, and by winning that battle He captured all Satan’s captives. All men, beginning from Adam and including us, were captured by Satan. We became Satan’s captives. However, according to Ephesians 4:8, when Christ ascended to the heavens, "He led captive those taken captive and gave gifts to men." This verse is a quotation from Psalm 68:18. Those taken captive refers to those who had been captured by Satan. This verse indicates that when Christ ascended to the heavens, He led a train, a procession, of captives. These captives included all the saved sinners. Before that time, we were captives under Satan’s hand. Satan captured us and made us his captives because of sin and death. We were in slavery to Satan under sin and death. Then Christ through His death and resurrection defeated Satan, and He captured all the captives under Satan’s hand and made them His captives. First we were captives of Satan, but now we have become captives of Christ. Then, in His ascension Christ led us in a triumphal procession, "a train of vanquished foes" (The Amplified New Testament), to the heavens.
Perhaps we do not realize that we have already been in the heavens. Ephesians 4 tells us that when Christ ascended to the heavens, He led a procession of captives, who were originally the captives of Satan, and He brought all these captives to the heavens to present them to the Father. These captives included you and me. We were among those vanquished by Christ. Satan also was vanquished by Him. Many people have never heard such a gospel. Thus, we need to preach the higher gospel to them according to Ephesians 4:8, telling them that Christ vanquished and captured them through His death and resurrection and took them to the heavens in His ascension. As a triumphant Victor, Christ led a triumphant procession to celebrate His victory, and He brought these captives to the heavens to offer them to the Father, saying, "Father, these are the prey, the spoil, gained by Me through My fighting. Now, Father, I present them all to You as My presents. You sent Me, and I went. Now I have come back to You with a present, a gift, from the cross and from Hades. I captured these, and now I present them all together to You as a present." The Father accepted this gift from the Son. Then the Father gave all these captives back to the Son as a gift from the Father. This is the invisible scene in Christ’s ascension.
(Life-Study of Isaiah, Chapter 52, by Witness Lee)