Abraham rejoiced to see my day - Or, he earnestly desired to see my day; ηγαλλιασατο, from αγαν, very much, and ἁλλομαι, I leap - his soul leaped forward in earnest hope and strong expectation that he might see the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The metaphor appears to be taken from a person who, desiring to see a long-expected friend who is coming, runs forward, now and then jumping up to see if he can discover him. There is a saying very like this in Sohar Numer fol. 61: "Abraham rejoiced because he could know, and perceive, and cleave to the Divine Name." The Divine name is יהוה Yehovah ; and by this they simply mean God himself.
And he saw it - Not only in the first promise, Genesis 3:15, for the other patriarchs saw this as well as he; and not only in that promise which was made particularly to himself, Genesis 12:7; Genesis 22:18, (compared with Galatians 3:16;), that the Messiah should spring from his family; but he saw this day especially when Jehovah appeared to him in a human form, Genesis 18:2, Genesis 18:17, which many suppose to have been a manifestation of the Lord Jesus.
Your father Abraham - The testimony of Abraham is adduced by Jesus because the Jews considered it to be a signal honor to be his descendants, John 8:39. As they regarded the sayings and deeds of Abraham as especially illustrious and worthy of their imitation, so they were bound, in consistency, to listen to what he had said of the Messiah.
Rejoiced - This word includes the notion of desire as well as rejoicing. It denotes that act when, compelled with strong desire for an object, we leap forward toward its attainment with joy; and it expresses:
1.the fact that this was an object that filled the heart of Abraham with joy; and,
2.that he earnestly desired to see it.
We have no single word which expresses the meaning of the original. In Matthew 5:12 it is rendered “be exceeding glad.”
To see - Rather, he earnestly and joyfully desired that he might see. To see here means to have a view or distinct conception of. It does not imply that Abraham expected that the Messiah would appear during his life, but that he might have a representation of, or a clear description and foresight of the times of the Messiah.
My day - The, day of the Messiah. The word “day,” here, is used to denote the time, the appearance, the advent, and the manner of life of the Messiah. Luke 17:26; “as it was in the days of Noah so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.” See John 9:4; Matthew 11:12. The day of judgment is also called the day of the Son of man, because it will be a remarkable time of his manifestation. Or perhaps in both those cases it is called his day because he will act the most conspicuous part; his person and work will characterize the times; as we speak of the days of Noah, etc., because he was the most conspicuous person of the age.
He saw it - See Hebrews 11:13; “These all died in faith, not having received (obtained the fulfillment of) the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them,” etc. Though Abraham was not permitted to live to see the times of the Messiah, yet he was permitted to have a prophetic view of him, and also of the design of his coming; for,
1. God foretold his advent clearly to him, Genesis 12:3; Genesis 18:18. Compare Galatians 3:16; “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ.”
2. Abraham was permitted to have a view of the death of the Messiah as a sacrifice for sin, represented by the command to offer Isaac, Genesis 22:1-13. Compare Hebrews 11:19. The death of the Messiah as a sacrifice for the sins of men was that which characterized his work - which distinguished his times and his advent, and this was represented to Abraham clearly by the command to offer his son. From this arose the proverb among the Jews Genesis 22:14, “In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen,” or it shall be provided for; a proverb evidently referring to the offering of the Messiah on the mount for the sins of men. By this event Abraham was impressively told that a parent would not be required to offer in sacrifice his sons for the sins of his soul - a thing which has often been done by pagan; but that God would provide a victim, and in due time an offering would be made for the world.
Was glad - Was glad in view of the promise, and that he was permitted so distinctly to see it represented. If the father of the faithful rejoiced so much to see him afar off, how should we rejoice that he has come; that we are not required to look into a distant futurity, but know that he has appeared; that we may learn clearly the manner of his coming, his doctrine, and the design of his death! Well might the eyes of a patriarch rejoice to be permitted to look in any manner on the sublime and glorious scene of the Son of God dying for the sins of men. And our chief honor and happiness is to contemplate the amazing scene of man‘s redemption, where the Saviour groaned and died to save a lost and ruined race.
Abraham learned of God the greatest lesson ever given to mortal. His prayer that he might see Christ before he should die was answered. He saw Christ; he saw all that mortal can see, and live. By making an entire surrender, he was able to understand the vision of Christ, which had been given him. He was shown that in giving His only-begotten Son to save sinners from eternal ruin, God was making a greater and more wonderful sacrifice than ever man could make. DA 469.1
Abraham's experience answered the question: “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” Micah 6:6, 7. In the words of Abraham, “My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering,” (Genesis 22:8), and in God's provision of a sacrifice instead of Isaac, it was declared that no man could make expiation for himself. The pagan system of sacrifice was wholly unacceptable to God. No father was to offer up his son or his daughter for a sin offering. The Son of God alone can bear the guilt of the world. DA 469.2
Through his own suffering, Abraham was enabled to behold the Saviour's mission of sacrifice. But Israel would not understand that which was so unwelcome to their proud hearts. Christ's words concerning Abraham conveyed to His hearers no deep significance. The Pharisees saw in them only fresh ground for caviling. They retorted with a sneer, as if they would prove Jesus to be a madman, “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?” DA 469.3Read in context »
The hope of Israel was embodied in the promise made at the time of the call of Abraham, and afterward repeated again and again to his posterity, “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 12:3. As the purpose of God for the redemption of the race was unfolded to Abraham, the Sun of Righteousness shone upon his heart, and his darkness was scattered. And when, at last, the Saviour Himself walked and talked among the sons of men, He bore witness to the Jews of the patriarch's bright hope of deliverance through the coming of a Redeemer. “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day,” Christ declared; “and he saw it, and was glad.” John 8:56. PK 683.1
This same blessed hope was foreshadowed in the benediction pronounced by the dying patriarch Jacob upon his son Judah: PK 683.2Read in context »
3-7. Confederacy Born of Rebellion—This confederacy was born of rebellion against God. The dwellers on the plain of Shinar established their kingdom for self-exaltation, not for the glory of God. Had they succeeded, a mighty power would have borne sway, banishing righteousness, and inaugurating a new religion. The world would have been demoralized. The mixture of religious ideas with erroneous theories would have resulted in closing the door to peace, happiness, and security. These suppositions, erroneous theories, carried out and perfected, would have directed minds from allegiance to the divine statutes, and the law of Jehovah would have been ignored and forgotten. Determined men, inspired and urged on by the first great rebel, would have resisted any interference with their plans or their evil course. In the place of the divine precepts they would have substituted laws framed in accordance with the desires of their selfish hearts, in order that they might carry out their purposes (The Review and Herald, December 10, 1903). 1BC 1092.1Read in context »