He saw that
03 August 2011 by Brad Williams
Here is a puzzling statement that Jesus made, and like all the things that Jesus said, if you can get your faith around it you'll have an eternal cause for rejoicing. Once, in a conversation with a group of Jewish interlocutors, he made this statement, "Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad" (John 8:56). Dear reader, I ask you sincerely, when do you think that Abraham rejoiced that he would see Jesus?
I fear that we evangelicals look at the Old Testament as some kind of foreign literature, as if the most of it were written to the Jews and that's it. We like the stories for sure. We like that David whacked Goliath with a rock. We know that Jonah got swallowed by a great fish and stayed there three days. But where is Jesus? In the book of Isaiah? Abraham couldn't see him in Isaiah, Isaiah wasn't born yet. So when did Abraham delight in Jesus?
As shocking as this is, Abraham saw Jesus in a promise made to Satan. Do you doubt this? Look here, "The LORD God said to the serpent...I will put enmity between your seed* and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel" (Gen. 3:14, 15). That seed there is Jesus the Messiah. Abraham got that. He understood this seed would come from the seed of a woman, and that he would crush the head of that old serpent we call the devil.
Abraham knew about this promise. That's why Abraham was in the dumps in Genesis 15, because in Genesis 13 God had promised that his seed would be like dust and that his seed would inherit the land forever. So God comes to his poor, doubting servant and says, "I am your shield; your reward shall be very great...Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them...so shall your seed be" (Gen. 15:1,5). So Abraham "believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness" (15:6). The covenant did not make him righteous; his faith did. God gave the covenant to a man of faith, to a man who could believe a promise. That's the kind of man or woman that God makes a covenant with: a person who believes God.
You might be thinking, "Seriously? Isn't Genesis 15 talking about 'offspring' in terms of Israel or just Isaac?" Yes and no. We know God isn't talking about simply Isaac because He tells Abraham, "Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your seed be named" (Gen. 21:12). See that? Through Isaac the seed will be named, not that Isaac is that seed.
And if I may go to that Jewish theologian Paul, it isn't just that God is referring to Israel as a whole. Paul writes, "Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. But what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman." So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman" (Gal. 4:28-31). You see that? Not just physical children are Abraham's children of promise, but those who are born according to the Spirit.
This promise rolls down the corridor of time and lands on the seed himself: Jesus. Isaiah foresaw this, "By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?...Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his seed; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand: (Is. 53:8,10). How does a guy cut off from the land of the living get to see his seed? He rises from the dead, and he has children, not by the flesh, but by faith in his resurrection power.
And Jesus is telling you that Abraham saw that. He saw that as only a person of faith can see it. If you see it, you see it the same way that Abraham saw it, and you've become his son, or you've become his daughter. You've become a seed of THE seed, Jesus the Messiah, the seed who has come and has crushed the serpent's head, who is now lifted up on high, and by grace he is gathering his elect to himself, they are the seed of promise.
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