With the season of Halloween upon us I was thinking about how scary the darkness can be. Movies love to capture the imagination of what might be found down a long unstable staircase in the darkness. Nothing but spiders but hey the imagination of something unknown can send a chill down my spine. Some children want a light left on when they drift to sleep. Many of my neighbors leave lights on around their house because they fear the thief could use the darkness to lurk about. I once took a tour of a large underground cave and as part of the tour the guide had everyone stand still and then they turned the lights out. The natural state of this cave where we were at under the ground was without light. There was nothing. I could not see even the faint outlines of the person next to me. In fact I reached up to touch the person in front of me just to make sure they were still there. There was no light peaking around a corner. It was just dark like I had never experienced before.
Moses appeared before the King of Egypt right before the 9th of what would be 10 plagues on Egypt. Moses was given instructions to ask the King to let the Hebrew people go and worship the Lord. However, God knew that the King would not let them go so God prepared Moses with instructions on what this 9th plague would entail.
21 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.” Exodus 10:21 ESV
Darkness that can be felt. I shudder at the idea. Light a match and darkness. Start a fire and darkness. Look to the sun and darkness. God said that this would be a darkness that could be felt. This word “felt” in the Hebrew could be translated “to grope”. Darkness that will grope. The darkness would grope its way into your being. It would have been a paralyzing blanket cast over the nation. Worse yet it is a darkness that lasts for 3 days. Imagine the despair of the Egyptian people and specifically the Egyptian King in that one of the major gods of Egypt is Ra the sun God. Insult on injury here is that Ra as creator is supposedly the father of the Egyptian King. The King’s own fatherly god Ra has been shown to be worthless before the Lord God who created the sun and everyone in Egypt plainly sees this as the case.
Paul in his opening letter to the church in Rome describes the situation.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. … 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, … 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. Romans 1:18-19; 22; 25 ESV
Egypt serves the creation and they worship the creation. There have been eight previous acts of God’s power and wonder over the creation to convince them that he is God and he is worthy of their attention. Yet they “suppress the truth” so they can continue to live their unrighteous lives as if God does not exist and as if they will not be accountable to their maker. Contemporary man does the same. We worship science which is our ability to manipulate the creation. Yet we still know almost nothing about the creation some will even deny there is a creation or a reality because they understand that where there is a creation there is a Creator. We worship exercise and healthy lifestyles yet we still grow old and die. We worship cults of personality in culture and yet mental health issues and dissatisfaction with life continue to increase. Why? Because we live ungodly lives in darkness contrary to what God created us for.
The Egyptians had an advantage over the modern man in that the three days of total darkness they experienced was plainly physical. They had a chance to reflect and think about the plight they found themselves in. We in the modern world are paralyzed in the darkness of our hearts yet we avoid acknowledging our current state by the distractions of entertainment and busyness that rule our lives.
A theme of darkness and light runs throughout the Bible. As I wrote here that God is light and he calls Christians to be a source of light in a dark world. It is no surprise then to hear Paul tell us the message he received from Jesus on God’s plan for this world.
I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ Acts 26:18 ESV
Now is the moment to turn from darkness to light, from sin to forgiveness. Jesus is calling us to worship a worthy creator. If we submit to Christ then we will be in the light. If we worship the creation which includes our own selfishness then we remove ourselves from God the source of light and will live in eternal darkness. Draw near to Christ and he will hear your cry.