they desired to see what we see

turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Luke 10:23-24)

Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56)

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:10-12)

It can be easy to think that it would have been so much easier (or better?) to have lived at the time of Moses or Elijah or another Old Testament character. What could be better than personally witnessing God parting the red sea or sending manna or any of the other dramatic stories we read? 

Jesus (and Peter) in the passages above tell us it's the other way around. The prophets and even the angels looked forward to our day. They desired the day when God's promises weren't just promises anymore but fulfilled realities. The day when the message of the gospel, the good news about Jesus' life, death and resurrection, was fully known was the day in which they longed to live. If we think that message is less exciting, fulfilling or sufficient than the signs that pointed towards it, then we've misunderstood those signs completely.