And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I come to you in the thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and believe you forever.” (Exodus 19:9)
I feel it is extremely important, as well as intriguing, that when God came down upon the mountain, it was in a thick, dark cloud. It might be that the cloud was for the protection of the people -– no one would able to gaze upon the Almighty unless they die. Looking at it from that perspective, we would conclude that this cloud was a demonstration of God’s mercy upon His people to match the awesome glory of His appearing. That is a message within itself, but perhaps there is something else to be gleaned from this that is applicable in our lives today.
Consider that within the thick, dark cloud, the Presence of the Almighty resided. This notion is validated later in Exodus 20 when it says that “Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was” (Exodus 20:21). In other words, the thick cloud served, not only to conceal His Presence that the people be not consumed, but also to reveal that His Presence was among them. This would continue to be the case in the future — when they saw the cloud upon the Sanctuary, they knew that God was among them. We can conclude, then, that darkness doesn’t necessarily indicate God’s absence, but it might indicate His Presence. Consider what the Psalmist said:
He made darkness His secret place; His canopy around Him was dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.” (Psalm 18:11)
The Hebrew word for “darkness” is the same word that is used in Genesis 1:2 to describe the darkness that was upon the deep. Within that darkness the Spirit of God hovered over the waters as He began to bring forth life in the earth. The point is, the One who brings forth light dwells in darkness; according to the Psalmist, darkness is His canopy or tent. What does that mean for you and me?
Oftentimes we feel that we are groping in darkness, not sure of what the next step is. Or we feel that what life has handed us is overwhelming to the point that we wonder where God is during our trouble. In those times when we can’t see clearly, it is easy to think that God is nowhere to be found, but it is in those times that we must remember that He dwells in darkness just as surely as He is to be found in the light. So it might be that, in those times we feel He is nowhere to be found, He is closer than He has ever been.
Blessings and Shalom,