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Bible verses about Abraham's Terror
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 14:18

Genesis 14-15 contains time markers that help us line up these events with the Passover and Exodus from Egypt, as well as the Passover and crucifixion in the New Testament:

» “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; [H]e was the priest of God Most High” (Genesis 14:18). This corresponds with Jesus' Passover observance with bread and wine, which took place at the beginning of the 14th.

» “Then He brought him outside and said, 'Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be'” (Genesis 15:5). Abraham is outside and viewing the stars. The time has progressed to full dark on the 14th.

» The sacrificial activities described in Genesis 15:9-11 indicate the arrival of the daylight portion of Abib 14; it was light enough to make sacrifices. This method of making a covenant symbolizes that, if the terms were not met, the transgressor must be cut in half, just like the animals (see Jeremiah 34:18-20).

» “Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him” (Genesis 15:12). The sun begins to go down as soon as noon has passed, so this verse could indicate any time in the afternoon or early evening.

» “And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces” (Genesis 15:17). The sun has set and Abib 15 has begun. The symbol of a burning lamp is linked with the salvation of God's people (Isaiah 62:1) and describes the eyes of God (Daniel 10:6). In addition, when God descended on Mount Sinai in fire, its “smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace” (Exodus 19:18). Through these symbols, God is seen confirming His covenant to Abraham by passing through the middle of the sacrificed animals.

What happened during the daylight portion of the 14th in Abraham's day was a conversation about inheriting the land, then Abraham divided and arranged the animals at God's command in preparation for the covenant. Thus, the timing of Christ's crucifixion on the afternoon of Abib 14 points to something centuries before the Passover in Egypt—to the promises God made to the father of the faithful and to the preparations made for their covenant.

David C. Grabbe
Why Was Jesus Not Crucified as Passover Began? (Part Two)


 

Genesis 15:12

The gravity of the Abrahamic covenant is demonstrated by the “terrifying darkness [that] came down over him” (Genesis 15:12; New Living Translation). This is echoed in the three hours of darkness—from noon until 3 PM—on Abib 14 as Jesus was being crucified (Matthew 27:45), after which the firstborn Son of God died. Similarly, three days of extreme darkness (the ninth plague; Exodus 10:21-23) preceded the death of the Egyptian firstborn and Israel's exodus from Egypt.

The prophet Amos helps tie these three events together:

“And it shall come to pass in that day,” says the Lord God, “That I will make the sun go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in broad daylight; I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist, and baldness on every head; I will make it like mourning for an only son, and its end like a bitter day. (Amos 8:9-10)

This is a prophecy of judgment on the northern ten tribes of Israel, just as the darkness and death of the firstborn were a judgment on Egypt (Genesis 15:14).

Jesus' crucifixion was a judgment as well—on the nation that rejected its own Creator and King. After His death, “all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts” (Luke 23:48, New English Translation). Their feast had been turned into mourning, “like mourning for an only [S]on,” on the day that the sun went down at noon and the earth was darkened in broad daylight—on the afternoon of Abib 14.

It is not known what Abraham inferred from the terrifying darkness. Darkness sometimes describes the covering God uses when approaching mankind, so He does not annihilate weak flesh by the supreme brilliance of His presence (Exodus 20:21; Deuteronomy 4:11; 5:22-23; II Samuel 22:10, 12; Psalm 18:9, 11; 97:2). Undoubtedly, part of Abraham's terror was the nearness of the awesome God, just as He was on the scene in His deliverance of Israel, as well as in the final hours before the death of His firstborn Son.

Another cause of Abraham's terror may have sprung from an arresting foreshadowing of his own promised son's death, or perhaps he received a horrifying vision of the death of God's Son as covenant-victim and propitiation to open the way for justification by faith.

David C. Grabbe
Why Was Jesus Not Crucified as Passover Began? (Part Two)


 

 




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