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)
As I mentioned yesterday, many Jewish commentators speculated as to the nature of the unique darkness that descended upon Egypt. Most all agree that is was something beyond the normal darkness that comes with nightfall. In determining just what the darkness was, it should be noted that, according to Scripture, God is often concealed in darkness.
As Israel prepared to cross the Sea, the pillar of fire that stood between them and the Egyptians gave light to Israel but was “a cloud and darkness” to the Egyptians (Exodus 14:20). When He appeared to the children of Israel atop Mount Sinai, He was concealed by “thick darkness” (Exodus 20:21). According to the Psalmist:
“He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and thick darkness was under his feet. And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly; He soared upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness his hiding-place, his pavilion round about him, darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.” (Psalm 18:9-11)
In this passage, the Hebrew word for “darkness” is the same word that used in Genesis 1:2 — “and darkness was on the face of the deep.” Yet we see that, in the midst of that darkness, the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters preparing to bring forth life. If He makes darkness His hiding place (or as some translations render it, “His secret place”), this hints that He is to be found in the darkness just as certainly as He is found in the light. Furthermore, considering that Psalm 91 encourages us to abide under His shadow in “the secret place of the Most High,” — and He makes darkness His secret place — it would seem that we are being encouraged to seek Him even in the darkness.
In other words, when it is our darkest hour we tend to assume that God is not present. We wonder why things happen the way the do and whether or not God is working, The concept we’ve addressed today demonstrates that, in our darkest hour, He may be closer than He has ever been. Don’t despair because of the darkness; it might be your opportunity to step into His secret place and abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Blessings and Shalom,