Today is the first day of the month called Cheshvan, also called marcheshvan, buy identified in the Bible as the month called Bul. It was on this day that, according to tradition, the plague of pestilence was poured out on Egypt. You can read about that in Exodus 9:3-4:
“Behold, the hand of the Lord will be on your cattle in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the oxen, and on the sheep – a very severe pestilence. And the Lord will make a difference between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt. So nothing shall die of all that belongs to the children of Israel.”
There are two things of note here and the first one is the name of the month, itself – cheshvan or marcheshvan. “Mar” – the beginning of a word – denotes “bitterness.” And so, Cheshvan is viewed as being a time of bitterness, or darkness. In fact, interestingly, there is no festival or feast day, biblical or traditional, celebrated during this month.
The second noteworthy point is that, as with other plagues we see in the Scripture, the Creator sets a distinction between Israel and Egypt so that the livestock of Israel is not harmed while the livestock of Egypt is annihilated. You see, Israel would need the donkeys, the oxen and all the other livestock later when they make their journey to the land of Canaan.
Even in times of darkness and bitterness, the Creator is at work in our lives, sowing things that will germinate and sprout up in the darkness and bitterness of our lives. Any one who has plante and tended a garden has witnessed how quickly a plant can sprout up, seemingly overnight. In fact, plants seem to grow more in the darkness than in the light. It’s in the daylight that a plant gets its nutrients and the warmth of the sunshine, but it is at night when it really begins to grow.
Considering that God’s people are referred to in Scripture as seeds, plants and trees, we are designed to produce fruit. Might it be that after we receive nourishment from the Son, we are destined to go through a dark and gloomy time in which we grow? In terms of what is happening in the world, it would seem that darkness and spiritual bitterness is encroaching but we shouldn’t be discouraged by this. We should be encouraged by the fact that, even during our bitterness and darkest hour, the Creator can set a distinction between His people and the nations. If He did it 3500 years ago, then He can and will do it again.