John 8:56. Explain that verse for me. Is it that Abraham saw the day for the coming of the Lord? I want to make sure.
Thanks for your question. The context is: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:56-58). There are several things that happened in Abraham’s life that helped him to see “Jesus’ day.”
First, we know that Abraham actually did see the Lord one day, when the Lord and two angels came to Sodom to confirm how bad things were there. “And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day” (Genesis 18:1).
Secondly, Abraham could have seen the Lord’s day when he saw how the Lord sent His angels to spare the righteous man, Lot, from the fiery destruction that was to come. “And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city” (Genesis 19:15,16). Compare that with, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:30,31).
Thirdly, even the matter of Abraham being willing to offer up his son Isaac, may have caused him to see the Lord’s day, His sacrifice for us, and His resurrection. “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of” (Genesis 22:2). “And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together” (Genesis 22:7,8). Notice Abraham’s terminology, “God will provide Himself a lamb.” Concerning the matter of resurrection, notice Hebrews 11:16-19, “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. By faith Abraham, when he was tried,offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”
In conclusion, Abraham actually saw the Lord; he looked ahead and saw the Lord’s return; he looked ahead and saw the Lord’s sacrifice for us; he looked ahead and saw the Lord’s resurrection. He clearly saw the gospel — the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:1-4). Acts 10:43 says, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”
Another Old Testament example of one who looked ahead was Enoch. “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14,15).
I have a question for you. Are you looking ahead to the Lord’s return, and thus faithfully serving Him today? “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4).