From Blog and Mablog:
Ascension Sunday 2009
This Lord’s Day is Ascension Sunday, the day we have set apart to commemorate the exaltation of Jesus Christ to the right hand of the Ancient of Days. This was the day upon which He was given universal and complete authority over all nations and kings, when He was given all rule and authority, dominion and power. Our Lord’s name is the name which is high above every name, and His is the name that, when spoken, will cause every knee to bow, and every tongue to confess, that He is indeed Lord of heaven and earth. And, as we cannot emphasize too much, or say too often, this is no invisible spiritual truth. It is simply, undividedly, true. This means it is true in a way that makes it true on the most practical levels. It is true when church is over.
"It came to pass also in the twelfth year, in the fifteenth day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, wail for the multitude of Egypt, and cast them down, even her, and the daughters of the famous nations, unto the nether parts of the earth, with them that go down into the pit. Whom dost thou pass in beauty? go down, and be thou laid with the uncircumcised. They shall fall in the midst of them that are slain by the sword: she is delivered to the sword: draw her and all her multitudes. The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword" (Eze 32:17-21).
One of the visions that the prophet Ezekiel was given was that of a parliament of dead kings, assembled in the nether regions of Sheol—the Greek word for this place is Hades. The prophet was speaking of nations which had had their time of great glory under the sun, but which, inevitably, had descended below to an empty governance of shades and shadows, the empty governance of nothing that mattered. This reality is inescapable—in Augustine’s trenchant phrase, among the nations of men, the dead are replaced by the dying, and however splendid an empire might be for the moment, there is no future for any nation outside of Christ. History occurs on the inexorable conveyor belt of moving time. There is nothing that will shut this conveyor belt off, and so there is no device to allow one nation’s day of glory to be forever fixed. Glory cannot be kept or retained in that way at all. There is no future glory for any king or president, for any nation or people, outside of Christ. So for those who reject Christ, below the earth in the nether regions, we find nothing but wisps of lost glory, and above ground at some future date talented archeologists might be able to find the remnants of an Ozymandian ruin.