January 29, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“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. Then Pharaoh called to Moses and said, ‘Go, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be kept back. Let your little ones also go with you.’ But Moses said, ‘You must also give us sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God. Our livestock also shall go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind. For we must take some of them to serve the Lord our God, and even we do not know with what we must serve the Lord until we arrive there.’”—Exodus 10:21–26 (NKJV)
As the battle of wills between God and Pharoah rages on, the conflict goes to a deeper, and literally, darker level. After pronouncing eight separate plagues upon Pharaoh’s Egypt, the Lord brings yet another plague that’s totally new in character—a supernatural darkness so uniquely ominous the Bible describes it as a darkness that “may even be felt.”
If you ever take a tour of the Mammoth Cave system in Kentucky (the largest cave system in the world), you’ll reach a point where the guide will tell everyone to brace themselves because they’re going to switch off the lights and expose everyone to total darkness. Light can’t penetrate a cave of that depth, and for many, it’s their first true encounter with total darkness. And when it happens, you get a sense of how powerful, palpable, pervasive, and consuming darkness can be. It starts to close in on you and, although it doesn’t seem scientifically possible, you start to feel like it’s physically smothering you. Just as your freak out needle starts moving, the guide throws the switch and all is well again. The whole experience lasts perhaps thirty seconds.
Now imagine something like that lasting not thirty seconds, thirty minutes, or even thirty hours, but three whole days! That’s the depth and duration of this darkness! All of Egypt was submerged into this utter absence of light. Nobody saw anyone or ventured outside their homes. Every social norm was disrupted by this darkness. It’s as if everyone lost all sight!
During those three days, there was only one exception to this absolute darkness. It’s one of those passing statements in Scripture we wish we had more detail on, but it simply says, “all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.” What does that mean, exactly? It probably doesn’t refer to lamps, torches, or any other light source via fire, because the Egyptians would have had the same access to such things. It seems much more likely to be a supernatural light that God specifically gave to His people as darkness enveloped everything around them. Whatever it was, it did more than light Hebrew homes, it represented a powerful truth that applies to us, as well.
No matter how dark the world around us is, we have the personal presence of God’s Spirit to guide, protect, and comfort us. Have you seen the news, lately? Do you realize how bad it is out there? But have you considered the indwelling person of the Holy Spirit, who is perfect in all His ways and is always with you no matter where you go? The world is a dark place, but God’s inextinguishable light is in all who are His. This means we can not only survive in this darkened environment, but we can be a beacon of light and life for others.
Don’t allow the darkness all around define you. Instead, be identified by the incandescence of the Holy Spirit who seeks to shine in and through your life.
Pause: What is the parallel between the plague of darkness and the world we now live in?
Practice: What does it mean for you to “shine”? Give some specific and practical examples and then act on them.
Pray: Father, thank You for giving me Your Spirit to protect, guide, and comfort me in the world in which I live. As the days grow darker and darker, please help me to see and yield to Your purpose of having me shine as Your representative and to use my life to rescue others from darkness. Amen.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.