Abraham, your father, rejoiced in that he would see My Day! He even saw it and was very thankful to have that grace favored upon him. John 8:56 XLP
Jesus says that Abraham saw His Day and was thankful for the favor and grace of that, which is what the Greek literally means here. Abraham was favored by grace; hence he was very thankful with observable joy. None of the typical translations really capture what was obvious in Greek, because readable translations only need to be good enough. Too literal can make them unreadable.
When did Abraham see Jesus in His Day? Genesis 22 is the answer. God tells Abraham to take Isaac to the future site of where the temple will be in Jerusalem and sacrifice him there. Now, if you have read any of the Jesus Pictures in Spiritual Knowledge, or 24:27, and so on, you already know that this episode in the Scriptures addresses the question of how God intends to bless the nations. How does the promised seed life in Isaac go out to bless the nations? The answer is that a father must sacrifice his only son, who quietly and willingly lays down his life in obedience to his father. Isaac even carries his own wood up the hill.
Moreover, the Jesus Pictures have noted that the ram caught in the thicket is essentially wearing a crown of thorns. The ram is in his full power and glory of strength. The ram’s horns are caught in a thicket, an entanglement of brush, which alludes back to the ground producing thorns and thistles in Genesis 3. God provided the substitute. God literally “saw to it,” which is what “provided” means in Hebrew. Thus, God provides Himself a lamb, which is so stated in Genesis 22 and can mean exactly what you are thinking: God provides Himself in the person of Jesus as the Lamb of God.
Genesis 22:3 says that on the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place afar off. In the story, it is literal. According to how we read the text (pro-graphe) by Galatians 3 and 4, it means that Abraham is seeing the future reality of God’s plan. The Spirit of Christ is within the prophets as Peter reminds us. Thus, all the Hebrew Scriptures are pointing to Jesus as rule number 1. No need to guess.
Yet this obvious reality is very beclouded today among Christians. It is as if we have been the objects of a sneak attack designed to allow anything except the seeing of Jesus “as He is” in the Hebrew Scriptures. Most of us understand that Genesis 22 points to Jesus in sort of a type and shadow reality, but I do not think we see how the Hebrew Scriptures came into existence out from Jesus showing Himself in some eternally true fashion through the very people who are designed to image and bear His likeness.
Capturing a glimpse of His eternal glory is inwardly transformative. This is Paul’s point at the end of 2 Corinthians 3. Yet, he is aware that the enemy fights to derail this seeing of Jesus in the Hebrew Scriptures. Thus, chapter 4 mentions how the “god of this world” blinds folks. Blinds us to what? The devil blinds people to the true nature of The Treasure within this jar of clay. It is carrying the nekrosis-death of Jesus in our body, which is His life manifested through the thorny flesh of people. Only Jesus knows how to be powerful through the thorns of the curse.
I think 2 Corinthians 3:18 came out from seeing Jesus in the Hebrew Scriptures through many stories, but especially Genesis 22. Not only did Abraham see afar off in the sense of space and time, but he did see Jesus “as in a mirror.” I encourage you to read Genesis 22:10-13 in multiple translations. For a father to be in a state of mind to sacrifice the divine-given son of his old age, he must have overridden every self-preservation instinct possible. It is clear in earlier stories that we know how much he loved his sons, but obedience to God was more important.
So, in those few seconds that transpired between Genesis 22:10-13, Abraham’s hand was frozen before him, outstretched with the knife ready to execute his beloved son. Psychologically, you just do not instantly shift gears from overriding every self-preservation instinct in your mind. It takes a few moments to come out of the strange trance.
And so, we read in Genesis 22:13 that Abraham looked up and saw what? Now this is where the unbelief of good people translating the Bible comes into play. Most popular translations ignore one of the Hebrew words in the text. The word is “behind.” To them, it clearly makes no sense how Abraham looked up and then saw the substitute ram behind him. Nor, are they thinking about Jesus as the reality of the Hebrew Bible stories. Nor are they connecting this knife suspended between heaven and earth with the sword of the angle suspended between heaven earth at the same place in 1 Chronicles 21:16, “And David looked up and saw the angel of the LORD standing between earth and heaven, and in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem.” The language is even similar, which is evidence of narrative design. Yet, so many do not see.
The Hebrew Scriptures function in this manner of making links and connections through repeated phrases and pictures. (Thank you BibleProject.com for making this better known.) For if we would simply just believe Peter or Jesus in Luke 24:26-27, we would be in a better situation. Seeing Jesus “as He is” always is the best scenario for life in dead places.
Not only would we link the stayed knife of Genesis 22 to the sword of 1 Chronicles 21:16, we would also start paying attention to any other story that elevates things between heaven and earth. Ezekiel 28 reminds us that Eden was a mountain place, which in the ancient mind are places overlapping heaven and earth. Noah’s ark was buoyantly suspended between heaven and earth covered in a ransom price (pitch). God torah-ed / showed Moses a tree at the bitter waters of Marah, a tree that changed bitter waters into sweet waters. Moses was the deliverer at a full rest in Exodus 17 with two men to either side set up on a hill; as long as he remained there at rest with hands of faith, Joshua-Jesus had the victory. Absalom was suspended between heaven and earth where he was pierced three times. Daniel was suspended between heaven and earth in that window when they finally caught him where they wanted him in order to kill him. Haman was suspended between heaven and earth on that tree, which is sadly paraphrased away as gallows. In fact, the tool of execution meant for Mordecai, actually ended up killing Haman.
That such realities of seeing Jesus in His victory – at rest on a tool of execution suspended between heaven and earth – are not widely seen or proclaimed today is to our shame. We might have 1 Corinthians 1:25 memorized, but the average Christians today does not personally know the reality of God’s weakness being the undoing of human strength. We are more interested in getting along with the world and resisting when it does not suit our patriotic pride, which was the downfall of Israel and Judah.
Abraham saw Jesus “as He is” simply by looking up and beholding as in a mirror the reflection off the knife in his outstretched hand. Yes, Abraham saw the ram caught in the thicket behind him reflected on the tool of execution suspended between heaven and earth. Abraham saw Jesus’s Day of reigning gloriously and rejoiced in such thankfulness that God had indeed given him back his son as if he were raised from the dead!
The ram was in its full glory of strength, and so was Jesus on the cross. Jesus was reigning in such magnificent glory that even the heavens dimmed in comparison. It is up to the average Christian to ferret out what was His glory. We can only do that by simply spending time with God and talking to Him about it. If our hearts truly turn to see Him, then the Spirit of God has amazing wonders to show you.