Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings. (Exodus 10:21-23)
Like the third and sixth plague, the plague of darkness was not preceded with a warning but descended upon the unsuspecting Egyptians like a flood. One commentator suggests it may have been related to the desert wind that would sometimes sweep in and bring with it a strange darkness. Whatever precipitated it, the Bible tells us it was darker than a normal night. This would have been especially troubling for the Egyptians because one of their primary gods was known as Ra, the sun god.
The Jewish commentator Nachmanides wrote that it was more than the absence of light but was a fog-like condition that extinguished all flames. The commentator Ibn Ezra said that it was fog-like and so dense that no light could penetrate it consequently the Egyptians couldn’t keep track of day or night. The Wisdom of Solomon records that, “No force of fire prevailed to give them light, neither were the bright flames of the stars strong enough to illumine that gloomy night.” As a result, no one went anywhere during that time but, in Goshen, “the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.”
This phenomenal statement is at the heart of what our mission is as God’s people. We are to be light to those who dwell in darkness. Seeing that we are incapable of generation our own light, we are to be those who reflect His light in the midst of darkness. As Isaiah said:
Arise, shine, for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. (Isaiah 60:1-2)
Darkness is, indeed, descending upon the world and many will be taken completely by surprise. But as Paul said, we are children of the light and should not be overtaken unaware; we are to be prepared for this moment. So let us follow our Master and heed His voice that we may be in the right place at the right time so that we may shine.
Blessings and Shalom,