Let There Be Darkness

Exodus 10:21-29

Worked with fellow years ago, fascinated with computer video games, 1 in particular… DOOM. First-person-shooter genre of game, is you against bad guys, all manner of weapons and tools of destruction. Initial episode titled “Knee-Deep in the Dead”, gives idea of what was like. Purpose of game to fight way through places inhabited by monsters, possessed humans, demons. If successful, the hero discovers hidden doorway back to Earth since he has “proven too tough for Hell to contain”. Long weekend, Jay make entrance into office in role from DOOM, make sure lights in his area turned way down or off. Would take at least a full day for Jay to come back to reality.

Not coincidence that after playing at combat with demons, proving too tough for Hell to contain him, Jay preferred darkness rather than light. We associate darkness with evil, with underworld, rightly so. Lord Jesus himself declared “men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19) Satan disguises as “angel of light” while really being angel of darkness.

Yet another reference to darkness even more important. Three times in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus recorded as using term “outer darkness” in his parables. “Outer darkness”, place where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” That kind of darkness more than even Jay would appreciate. Is darkness like none of us have experienced, pray none of us ever will. Egyptians got 3-day taste of darkness, were profoundly affected by it…. including Pharaoh. Was once total darkness, the darkness of nothing, when only God existed. Then God acted.

A. back to the beginning v.21-22

creatio ex nihilo (Gen. 1:1)

in the beginning, if there was point of singularity that gave rise to all other things, we call him God, who created all from nothing

God used nothing already in existence for building materials – when we create, start with something and reshape into something different

are told how God continued work of creation – spoke things into existence by his powerful word in space of six days

Bible doesn’t tell us how heavens and earth came to be… except that God created them – don’t know if he spoke into empty darkness or if he merely thought and universe sprang into existence

even then, still dark – “darkness was on the face of the deep” (Gen. 1:2) – Holy Spirit present, moving over waters, still dark

first recorded speech (Gen. 1:3)

God said, “let there be light” – plan of creation, sequence of events not random or unplanned… were precisely planned and orchestrated by infinitely wise Creator

God’s value judgment on light: “it was good” – once basic framework of universe brought into existence, God no longer worked in the dark… did remainder of creative work in the light

looking ahead few days, people he would place on his earth not expected to exist in the dark, not equipped to do so either

that would be why on fourth day God created two lights to serve specific purposes: to divide day from night, signify seasons, delineate one day from next and one year from next; to give light on the earth

even night not to be time of utter darkness – sun to rule day, moon to rule night, God not intending return to pre-Creation darkness… at least not for extended period of time

only recorded undoing (21)

yet in text, on localized scale, God unmakes what had made – “let there be darkness over the land of Egypt”

72 hours of unrelenting impenetrable darkness – in land of Egypt God took every single ray of light regardless of source

darkness, felt darkness, thick darkness (22)

the kind of darkness that isolates, separating people not only from one another but from surroundings as well

way more than darkness from desert sandstorm, even if compounded by desolation from previous plagues

God intended there be no misunderstanding – expected all to know, Egyptian and Hebrew alike, that He, YHWH did this

B. reading between the lines v.23

profound paralyzing darkness

this was darkness inside homes and buildings as well as outside – absolutely zero natural light and artificial light

Egyptians could not see one another, could not make out anything of surroundings, could maybe get around somewhat by feel

so unnatural and unnerving Egyptians were unable to move – basically a nationwide panic attack that paralyzed everyone

true God’s superiority over Egypt’s greatest god

like most polytheistic belief systems, was hierarchy to Egyptian gods/goddesses – one at top was Ra, the sun God who was also creator

when presence or absence of sun could not be detected, Egyptians helpless and hopeless with no where to turn

“this plague of darkness shows the sovereignty of God over Ra, the sun god, the chief of the gods of Egypt. The Egyptians worshipped Ra in almost all of the palace ceremonies. Ra worship was pervasive in the land. They believed that the sunrise in the east symbolized Ra’s victory over the demonic powers of the netherworld, and that sunset indicated that these forces of darkness were waging war against Ra. And then when the sun rose again it showed that Ra had won. He was victorious over those that would challenge his rule. So, when God through Moses announces, not a day, not just the daylight hours, but three days of darkness, He is showing that the God of the Hebrews in sovereign over the chief deities over Egypt.” Duncan

clear dividing line

seems from v.23 that sun did not show his face anywhere in land of Egypt… including Goshen for that three-day period

different story inside homes – Egyptian homes experienced total blackout, children of Israel enjoyed their usual illumination

once again God makes clear distinction between his enemies and enemies of his people on one hand, children of Israel on the other – bringing judgment on one, showing mercy to other

those with light vs. those without

same kind of distinction in place even today – people of God are those living in the light: light of God’s truth and favor

those not reconciled to God live in darkness, walk in darkness, are blinded by the darkness and do not know where they are going (1 John 2:11)

C. final bargaining session v.24-29

Pharaoh’s last stand (24)

Pharaoh gives appearance of agreeing with YHWH’s demands – tells Moses: go, worship, families may go, only animals stay

sounds on surface like willingness to let people go worship their God, only holding onto animals so children of Israel remember to come back to Egypt

I believe Pharaoh’s motives more sinister than that… especially as he acts as agent of Satan, and seems Moses recognizes Pharaoh’s true intent

think carefully, remember what worship was like for children of Israel in Moses’ day – could make blanket statement, no animal sacrifice = no worship

Pharaoh’s point – you can go but you cannot worship YHWH, would not be allowed to give to YHWH what Pharaoh wanted for himself

Moses pulls rank (25-26)

Moses takes position of one in command, telling him what he must do – this time, more than just let children of Israel go with all their belongings

Moses recognizes Pharaoh’s refusal to submit to God’s authority and intention to prevent others from worshiping true God

so Moses tells Pharaoh he must provide his own animals for sacrifice in addition to those of Hebrews, iow telling Pharaoh to worship true God

hardened again (27-29)

God lets Pharaoh have his heart’s desire

Pharaoh wants to remain enemy of God, to act as if he is supreme leader in charge and worthy of worship himself

has by now come to place where without divine intervention Moses’ very life at risk – Pharaoh wants desperately to put Moses in his place

God permits Pharaoh to have his wish, in fact God acts to firm up Pharaoh’s resolve so he will not relent

Moses concurs

“as you wish” – would turn out that way, once Moses finally left Pharaoh’s presence – not quite done yet, though… verses 4-8 of next chapter bring Moses’ audience with Pharaoh to conclusion

Pharaoh claims prerogative of God (cf. Ex. 33:20)

declares to Moses, “next time you see my face you will die” – same God declared to Moses “no man shall see me and live”

Pharaoh maintaining own superiority over YHWH, desiring to receive worship due to YHWH, claiming right to life and death over prophet of YHWH

D. two lessons

be careful what you desire

over and over Pharaoh pushed back against God, God mercifully withheld justice – yet time came when God said “ok, have it your way”

consider carefully what you truly desire – what if God gave it to you… permanently?

remember: Jesus took the darkness for us

three hours of profound darkness, dark enough he cried “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Getty, Power of the Cross

Father punished the Son that those who believe in him might be spared darkness of God’s wrath

is your name written in his wounds? did he bear the awesome weight of your sin? if so, through his suffering you are free

if not, cry out to God for forgiveness, trust in Christ and his righteousness, stand forgiven at the cross



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