Read: Exodus 10:1-11:10
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was pitch 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 people of Israel had light where they lived. Exodus 10:21-23
Locusts, darkness and death.
There is a lot of devastation in these two chapters. And right in between the plague of locusts – which Pharaoh called deadly – and the plague that was entirely deadly – there is darkness for all those in Egypt who did not belong to God. However, for those who did belong to God, there was light.
This plague of darkness is the only plague that was, by all practical measures, intangible, yet, we are told it was “felt.”
Long ago (in a galaxy far, far away with no cell phones and personal GPS devices), I was backpacking in Europe with my cousin. We had arrived in France, it was evening, and we headed in the direction we’d been given to find the hostel where we planned to stay. But, we were in unfamiliar territory. We didn’t speak the language, our map didn’t make sense and we soon found ourselves lost. It was rapidly becoming night, and the darkness began to ‘plague’ us. We knew that if we didn’t find our way soon we’d be stopped, paralyzed, by the darkness.
Darkness and light are used throughout the Bible. For the Egyptians in this situation, the darkness was “felt.” This word darkness here refers to night, but it goes deeper –it carries the figurative meaning of blindness, distress, judgment, and ultimately, the darkness of the grave. Separation from all light; death.
In the New Testament, when Jesus died on the cross we’re told that “darkness came over the whole land” (Mark 15:33, Matt 27:45, Luke 23:44). Similar to the darkness in Egypt, this Greek word can refer to someone overcome by the night and forced to stop, and again, goes further. It is ‘felt’ as it refers to spiritual darkness, eternal misery and ultimately separation from God.
Today, our world faces the same plague. The plague of darkness that falls on all those without Christ. They may see clearly the way to work, to school, to their favorite vacation spot. Even the path to financial gain may be well lit for them. But when it comes to finding the way to peace during life here on earth and eternity extending beyond life here on earth, they’re wandering aimlessly. And when darkness sets in, in the form of the trials of life or, ultimately, in death, they become paralyzed or face eternal darkness.
In John 8:12 Jesus says of Himself, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
For those of us who know Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, over and over we are told that we carry His light to the world.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
When we belong to God, we have His light in us that makes our path well lit. Look around today. Who do you see walking in darkness? Who needs to see the eternal light of Christ (that you have!) so they can find their way?
Father God, thank you for offering us Your light in a world that’s stumbling through the dark. Please shine Your light through me in such a way that those around me would find the life and the direction you offer.