“Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” Jesus tells the Jewish protagonists in response to their clinging to their heritage for justification and salvation.
Roughly 2,000 years earlier Abraham was instructed by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years from God’s initial promise of a son. They were 100 years old. Isaac was long-awaited, long-anticipated, and long-prayed-for. He was their prized possession straight from God.
God had big plans for Abraham to become the father of a great nation; God’s people. God trusted Abraham and Abraham must trust God. We are told this was a test from God. Testing is different than tempting. The Bible tells us God does not tempt us; the devil tempts us. Tempting is hoping for failure. Testing is to confirm and strengthen us. God needed Abraham to trust Him completely. God knows everything. This test wasn’t for God; it was for Abraham. This test would let Abraham know that he fears God and would not withhold his son. He is all in. We can think we know what we will do, but we aren’t certain until we are in that position. God has BIG plans for Abraham.
Abraham takes his beloved son, Isaac, with him to sacrifice. He endures Isaac’s questions about where the lamb for the burnt offering is, responding that God will provide. Abraham doesn’t have all of the details, but he trusts God. He can’t see how all the pieces will fit together, but he believes God is faithful and God can be trusted.
Just as Abraham is about to sacrifice Isaac, an angel calls from heaven telling him to stop. Up ahead in a thicket Abraham sees a ram caught by his horns. A substitutionary sacrifice to take the place of Isaac.
It is a beautiful picture of what God has planned for us. He will be the one to sacrifice His only Son. We need only trust. We see a glimpse of the power, relief, freedom of Jesus’ taking our place. The ram appears to be the sacrifice, just as Jesus appears in the flesh to take our place. A substitution of our sins for His righteousness.
Indeed, Abraham saw the day of Jesus in that ram and was glad. He saw the day of Jesus in the eyes of his son; the beginning of the descendants as numerous as the stars that would usher in the birth of the Messiah. He rejoiced that he would again see the day of the Lord.
Are we able to rejoice that we will see the day of Jesus? Do we have eyes and faith to see it and be glad? Is our hope in God and the work of Jesus to take our place? God, give us eyes to see + hearts to believe + faith to surrender to Your good and perfect will.
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