Ninth Plague – the locust and the darkness
As we come to God’s word there’s a principle of Bible study that’s absolutely indispensable, and that is total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit. This morning we’ll be looking finally at the end at the ninth plague of darkness, on Psalm 18:28, “For you light my lamp; the Lord my God illumines my darkness.
Father, we thank You that we can gather again in this place. Thank You for the provision of this place and the opportunity we have to trust the indwelling Holy Spirit to put the spotlight again on our Lord Jesus Christ. We ask you, Lord, to give us eyes to see that. You light our lamp, and we pray that You might do exactly that. We thank You that even a candle that’s ready to be snuffed out You don’t despise. Ignite our sparks and fan our flame and light our candle. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen
We’re in the process of meditating on the Lord Jesus in the Book of Exodus. We’ve been meditating on the great plagues that God send against Pharaoh and Egypt, as He was at war against idolatry. He sent those plagues, He says, to manifest His great love and His power, to make His name known, and to redeem His people out of bondage. Exodus, the book, is the story of God’s redemption in picture form, in story form. He’s going to set them free by power and by blood; power will be illustrated by the plagues and by the crossing of the Red Sea; the blood will be illustrate by the blood of that precious Passover lamb.
It’s easy to remember why God sent the plague, the reference, because it’s in Romans 9:16, and in Exodus 9:16. Romans 9:16&17, “It does not depend on the man wills, or the man who runs, but on God, who has mercy, for scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I raised you up to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name may be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” Exodus 9:16, “Indeed, for this reason, I’ve allowed you to remain in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth.”
I remind you why God went to war against the gods of Egypt. We see it very succinctly in Deuteronomy 32:16, “They made Him jealous with strange gods.” He was jealous. We need to remember that the Lord loved Pharaoh, and loved Egypt, and loved His people, and He loves all created in the image of God. He wanted to have fellowship with them. Usually, on the low level of earth where I hope and pray none of us live anymore, we think of idolatry and idolaters and think, “May God destroy of them.” But His heart is exactly the opposite of that. He wants to save the idolater and rescue the idolater. He’s strokes at idols in order to save the idolaters, the people. We’ve been seeing God’s jealous heart as we’ve been looking at these plagues.
In our discussion now we’ve come to Exodus 10. There are two plagues mentioned there; the plague of the locusts, and the plague of the supernatural darkness. I pray this morning that we’ll get to look at the heart of each of those particular plagues. I remind our hearts that the jealous God not only goes after the idolatry of heathens, but after the idolatry of believers, of Christians. We, also, have a tendency. Our natural hearts are idolatrous hearts. Apart from the grace of God, we’ll always gravitate there. 1 John 5:21 on that great book of fellowship and intimacy with God, He ends with these words, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” We don’t have to think of heathen, but may God deliver us from idolatry.
I’ve attempted to point out in these plagues at least one, I think the chief, but I could be wrong, principle of idolatry illustrates by each of these plagues. Idolatry is more than bowing down to sticks and stones and ivory and carved images. Idolatry is anything that is not Jesus, anything that competes with the Lord Jesus. He is absolutely insistent on exclusive devotion, and He’ll go to war against all that contradicts His relationship with us. He does not want rivalry.
Let me mention the principles we’ve looked at so far, just the main principles. In the plagues against the Nile River, anytime we look to any source other than the Lord for life and blessing, we are guilty of idolatry. With the frogs, anytime we incline to religious superstition we become idolaters. With the lights, anytime we look to this world – remember that He struck the earth. They were worshipping this world. Anytime we worship the world we find ourselves an enemy of God, and guilty of idolatry. The stinging insects, they were trusting their gods to protect them. Anytime we look to any other refuge other than the Lord to protect us, we are guilty of idolatry. The livestock; anytime we look to the blessing rather than to the Blesser, we are idolaters. The boils; they were trying to appease their gods by surrender, illustrated by the offering of even their own children. Anytime we look to any works to appease a God who has already been perfectly appeased through the death and resurrection of His Son, then we are idolaters. Last week we looked at the plague of the hail. Anytime we look to a second cause rather than to the Lord, or to a means, rather than to the Lord, we’re guilty of idolatry.
That bring us to the eighth and ninth plague, the invasion of the locust and the supernatural darkness. Let me begin by relating plague 8 to the plague before it, the storm and hail. Exodus 9:31, we learned that God spared the wheat and the spelt. Now the flax and the barley were ruined, for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was in the bud, but the wheat and the spelt were not ruined, for they ripened late. As powerful as that supernatural storm was, it also had mercy; it spared the wheat and the spelt. It only brought a mock repentance. It sounds good. Listen to Exodus 9:27&28, if all you had was that you’d be cheering, “Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron and said, ‘I’ve sinned this time. The Lord is the righteous One. I and my people are the wicked ones. Make supplication to the Lord, for there’s been enough of God’s thunder and hail. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.’” Doesn’t that sound good, like Pharaoh repented? But God gave Moses insight, Exodus 9:30, two verse later, “As for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the Lord your God.” And Moses was able to see that was a mock repentance, and we find that out at the end of the chapter in verse 34, “When Pharaoh saw the rain and the hail and thunder had ceased he sinned again, and hardened his heart, he and his servants.”
The wheat and the spelt were spared in the previous plagues, but notice Exodus 10:5, speaking about the locust, “They shall cover the surface of the land, so no one will be able to see the land. They will also eat the rest of what has escaped what is left to you from the hail. They’ll eat every tree which sprouts out of the field.” Verse 12, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt, for the locust, that they may come upon the land of Egypt and eat every plant of the land, even all that the hail has left.’” You have the exact same thing in verse 15. The principle is quite clear; if God strikes me and I don’t listen, I can expect Him to strike me again, and harder. The Lord is determined that our hearts belong to Him. He’ll strike us, but not to pound us into submission. He strikes us because He loves us with a jealous love. Even though it seems severe, when He prunes or strikes, He just wants to romance you, to live in an intimate union with you.
Let me introduce this eighth plague of the locust by making a couple of general observations. Then I’ll try to identify the principle of idolatry and perhaps makes a couple of applications. This plague is described in verses 1-20 of chapter 10. Actually, there are three great locust passages in the Bible. One is here in chapter 10 and it’s literal locust, in other words, the insect. Then in Joel chapters 1:2 you have figurative locust. It’s a picture; an army has come in – Assyria. And they are described like a locust plague. The last reference is in Revelation 9 where during the great tribulation you are going to have demonic activity, and that is also described as the locust invasion. Those three passages; one is literal, one is symbolic and the last is demonic. You’ll see the progress as you go through the passage toward the end.
There are several indications to how severe this particular plague was. Exodus 10:4&5, “If you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow I’ll bring locust into your territory, and they’ll cover the surface of the land, so that no one will be able to see the land.” Try to picture that many locust on the ground! That’s like a snow fall with all the flakes, so that you can’t see the ground or see a blade of grass, or see the dirt. When you look down all you are going to see is locust. Verse 6, “’Your houses shall be filled, and the houses of all your servants, and the houses of the Egyptians, something neither you nor your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen from the day that they came upon the earth until this day.’ And he turned and went out from Pharaoh.” They are going to be everywhere; in your houses. It’s unique and no one has ever seen such a plague as the plague God is going to send.
Not only was there not such a plague before, but look at verse 14, “The locust came up over the land of Egypt, settled in all the territory of Egypt, and they were numerous. There has never been so many locust, nor would there be so many again.” That’s an amazing locust invasion. Some have tried to find a contradiction in the Bible because they compare that, “There will never be such a locust invasion again like that,” to Joel 2:2&3, “There has never been anything like it, nor will there be anything again after it. A fire consumes before them; behind them a flame burns. The land is like the Garden of Eden before them, but a desolate wilderness behind them. Nothing escapes. God says to Egypt, “There has never been one like this and there will never be another.” God said to Job, “There’s never been one like this and there will never be another.” Some would say, “There’s a contradiction.” No; one is referring to Egypt, and one is referring to Israel, “There will never be another like that in Egypt,” and now here we are six hundred years later in Joel He says that there will never be another one like that in Israel. There’s no contradiction. By the way, even if you can’t explain an apparent contradiction, there are no contradictions. It doesn’t matter if you can explain it or not. You can trust God’s word.
I’m pointing out all this to show you that it’s a terrible invasion. I handed a little sheet that is about a locust invasion that happened this year in Kenya, and there are hundreds of millions of locust. Just take a look and imagine if you were there in that situation, and that multiply it many times over, because that’s nothing compared to the plague that came in Exodus 10, and this eighth plague. I’ve read many firsthand accounts. All my commentators like to describe locust plagues. We can’t imagine it. Several years ago I was with my Lillian in Virginia, and I don’t know if it was an invasion, but there were Cicadas all over the place, and they were very loud. When we were walking we were trying to avoid stepping on them, but there were so many you couldn’t avoid it. Technically a cicada is not in the locust family. Locust are different. They are in the grasshopper family, but they actually have teeth. If fact, they can actually bite people. I read an account where the witness said that they were two feet deep in her town and she said they couldn’t bite a piece of bread without biting into a locust. Imagine the kind of invasion and multiply it many times. This was a tremendous plague. They describe locust plagues twenty five miles long and forty miles wide, and that they can cover over a hundred square miles of land. This is a unique one. Nothing like this has ever happened.
I think the best description is there in Joel, even though it’s symbolic, it describes an invasion. I’ve already read Exodus 3:3 but let me read it again, “A fire consumes before them; behind them a flame burns. The land is like the Garden of Eden before them, like a desolate wilderness behind them.” Nothing escaped. You just picture this swarm of locust in their Garden of Eden, and when it’s done it’s a desolate wilderness. They just eat everything. Joel 2:10, “Before them the earth quakes and heavens tremble, sun and moon grow dark, and stars lose their brightness.” That’s just a description that clouds, the swarms are so great that they block out the rays of the sun, and it becomes dark. You get an idea of how terrible this plague was.
The one sent into Egypt, Exodus 10:15, “They covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was dark. They ate every plant of the land, and all the fruit of the trees, that the hail had left. Thus, nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field throughout all the land of Egypt.” The power of that is seen if you understood what grows in Egypt; fig trees, pomegranates, mulberries, grapes, olive trees, peach trees, pear trees, apple trees, dates, all of it wiped out with this locust invasion.
This locust invasion is referred to in Psalm 105:14, and it gives us something Exodus doesn’t give us, “He spoke, and the locust came, and young locust, even without number.” That little expression “young locust” is important because we’re told that young locust do not yet have wings. They can be blown on the wind but they don’t have wings yet, but they mature quickly. There are four stages in locust development, and Joel gives us all four stages. Listen to Joel 1:4, “What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten. What the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten.” The gnawing locust, the swarming locust, the creeping locust, the stripping are all different stages of the locust. Evidently by mentioning young locust and seeing the tops of the trees eaten in Egypt, we have the idea that locust invasion plague #8 included all the stages of the locust at the same time; they all come in and just wipe out the land of Egypt. It was a terrible plague.
We’re told by those who are supposed to know, that the prevailing winds in Egypt come from the north and from the south; six months of the year the prevailing winds come from the north and six months of the year the prevailing winds come from the south. It’s interesting in this invasion that God brought them in on winds from the east, and brought them out from winds on the west, to show that it’s a mighty miracle. Exodus 10:13, “Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord directed an east wind on the land all that day and all that night, and when it was morning, the east winds brought the locust.”
This plague didn’t happen suddenly like the other plagues. They could see it coming. It took a day and a half for this plague to arrive. Verse 13, “Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord directed an east wind on the land, all that day and all that night, and when it was morning the east wind brought the locust.” When cleared them out in verse 19, “So the Lord shifted the wind to a very strong west wind which took up the locust and drove them into the Red Sea. Not one locust was left in all the territory of Egypt.” They were driven into the Red Sea. I don’t know whether you can make an application, because Egypt is about ready to be driven into the Red Sea and drowned. I just make that observation.
As we saw last week God sometimes uses means. It’s always Him, but sometimes He uses second causes. The east wind brought the locust, but the Lord brought the east wind. The west wind drove them out, but the Lord controlled the west wind. It would seem that even the threat of a locust invasion was enough to frighten Pharaoh and Egypt, because before the locust came, verse, “Pharaoh’s servants said to him, ‘How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God? Do you not realize Egypt is destroyed?’” The people, his servants, were terrified when they heard the possibility of a locust invasion. Even Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron, and made a compromise. Exodus 10:8, “Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh.” This is before the invasion, “and he said to them, ‘Go serve the Lord your God.’ Who are the ones that are going?’” And when he said, “Everybody,” Pharaoh said, “How about leaving the women and kids behind.” When he refused, listen to verse 11, “Not so; go now, the men among you. Serve the Lord, for that’s what you desire.” So, they were driven out of Pharaoh’s presence.
I don’t know what that looks like, but they didn’t just say, “Okay, we’ll see you later.” They were driven out of Pharaoh’s presence. Egypt and Pharaoh had no idea about what they were going to experience in this locust invasion. It was a severe plague, very severe because it’s a dangerous form of idolatry that God is attacking. The more subtle the idolatry, the more severe the hand of God when He strikes it.
There are several gods and goddesses that are under attack in this particular plague. I think surely that the earth god, the ones who were supposed to protect the economy, that was attacked. And Shu, we looked at that before, the atmosphere god, is supposed to protect them from insects that come to disrupt them. Typhon, the wind god, the weather god, is supposed to bring in blessing. This particular plague doesn’t say that it blocked out the rays of the sun. It’s says that it covered the ground so you couldn’t see the ground. My guess is that it did block out the rays of sun. If so, Ra, the god of the sun is going to be attacked, as well, and certainly in the next plague, that god is attacked.
The difference between plague 8, the locust, and plague #5, the moraine on the cattle, both plagues attacked the pocketbook, in a different way. The plague on the livestock was partial; it wasn’t complete, and it hurt their income. In other words, the cattle and the sheep that were slain, their brick making and their jobs were at stake. But this plague and the plague of the hail, also, not only attacked their ability to make money, but it attacked their saving account, their investments; the crops and all was tomorrow’s food. It’s one thing to create income, but when God goes after the savings account, that I think is more severe. The Lord desires to be our security. He is our health, He is our savings account, He is our investment. We can’t say, “We have investments, we have stock, we have bonds, we have a savings account, we’re okay for a long time.” God might strike your ability to create. He might hit your health, or something, or you lose a job, but if you still have a savings account, you still might feel a little secure. But this locust invasion as an attack against their savings, their resources that were set aside for a rainy day. It’s so easy to see the idolatry here that God attacked, when we have an unhealthy trust in our securities, our savings, in our health, and we take special diets and exercise programs, and we depend on that to keep us healthy, and depends upon insurance plans and depend on savings accounts, and so on.
Anytime we rest in an unhealthy way, the jealous God rises up and sends the locusts, stripping us bare. As I wrap up this plague I want to unveil something very good, and something not so good. I want to show His heart; and that’s very good. And I want to show my heart and our heart; and that’s not so good. I want to quote Isaiah 19:22, “The Lord will strike Egypt, striking but healing, so they will return to the Lord, and He’ll respond to them, and He’ll heal them.” Isn’t that an amazing truth? He smites in order to heal. He does not smite in order to spite. He never does. He smites in order to heal. He doesn’t enjoy the locust to eat up your savings, to eat up your securities. He must do it in order that you learn to trust Him.
I made a point in these plagues, showing what a burden it was for the Egyptians to clean up after their god. They had to gather the frogs into big frog piles, and had to take all the dead animals that they were bowing down to worship, and drag them and put them in piles where they would be corrupt, or bury them. But in this plagues it’s a little different. Exodus 10:19, “The Lord shifted the wind to a very strong west winds which took out the locust and drove them into the Red Sea, and not one locust was left in all the territory of Egypt.” Do you get the power of that? Not one locust left. God cleaned up His own mess after this invasion. He didn’t leave it to them. That would have been a terrible thing. Don’t forget the locust were in the houses, as well. Not one locust could be found anywhere. That’s a miracle, and what a miracle God did.
The prophet Joel actually enlarges on God’s good heart, that He smites in order to heal. Joel 2:25-26, “I’ll make up for you the years the swarming locust have eaten the creeping locust, the stripping locust, the gnawing locust, like a great army that I sent among you. You’ll have plenty to eat and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God who has dealt wonders with you. That idea of God restoring the years that the locust have eaten is a very precious truth; that God will turn the curse to a blessing. If you look in an unhealthy way at your own security, God will strip you. If you turn back to the Lord, then He’ll heal you, and make up for everything you lost in the stripping. This is a wonderful picture of God’s heart. Exodus 10:16&17, “Pharaoh hurriedly called for Moses and Aaron and said, ‘I’ve sinned against the Lord your God, and against you. Now, therefore, please forgive my sin, only this once, and make supplication to the Lord your God that He would remove this death from me.’” That little expression, “only this once,” the danger is, the warning is that when God smites our securities we run quickly to Him and we say, “I’m sorry, once more; just give me one more opportunity Forgive me and deliver me from this death and I promise, I vow, that I’ll do better.” How soon we can forget all His benefits, as we see Egypt has done.
This is the warning of what has been called “the foxhole Christian”; when you are in the foxholes and the sorties are coming, and then “Oh, Lord, get me out of this and I promise…,” and then when it’s all passed we quickly forget. “Rescue me,” Pharaoh said, “once more, and I promise I’ll do better, and I’ll repent.” Well, the Lord help us to see His heart. He smites in order to heal, and healing He restores all that the locust have ever eaten, blessing abundantly. And may the Lord help us to see our hearts, that we want deliverance from circumstances rather than deliverance unto Him. One thief on the cross wanted deliverance from sin, and one wanted deliverance from nails. May God deliver us from being foxhole Christians!
I’d like to look at this ninth plague—supernatural darkness. Exodus 10:21-23, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward the sky, so there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness that may be felt.’ So, Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings.”
Let me give a couple of observations before we look at the principle of this idolatry. I told you that one thing God was accomplishing through these plagues was He was making things that were invisible making them visible. Certain things were already true in idolatry. For example, idolatry stinks. That was always true, but they didn’t know idolatry had such a terrible smell. So, God polluted the waters of the Nile River, and He made the fish die. They can smell that. And He made the frogs die, and they could smell that. And He made the animals corrupt and die, and they could smell that. Idolatry was already hurting them, but they didn’t know it. So, God sent stinging insects, in order that they could feel it. God sent boils, so they would know they were already being hurt. Idolatry was already a bondage to them, but they didn’t know it, so God made them clean up all of the mess of their idolatry. Idolatry was already a thief, robbing them; the thief comes to kill and destroy. They were robbed of their livelihood, robbed of their crops. God made them feel it, and just so, they were already in darkness, but they didn’t know it. God is now going to make that invisible visible as well. Exodus 10:21, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness which may be felt.’” He wanted them to feel the darkness of idolatry.
The second observation which is tied into that, this plague from start to finish is supernatural; it’s a miracle. We know some of the plagues that God used means; He used frogs and lice and insects and He used weather, and hail, thunder and so on, He used locust. When He used means He told us that He was using means. In this plague there is no natural explanation. He did not use means. Because it was a darkness that can be felt, many people try to explain it, and explain it away. They say, “It’s a darkness that can be felt; it was a sand storm.” I would say 80% of my commentaries, when they describe this darkness, say that it was a sand storm; that God raise up a sand storm. Literally, if it was a sand storm, that would reduce visibility, and I suppose if sand is blowing against your skin and face, it’s going to sting and you are going to be able to feel it. But if it were a sand storm God would have said a sand storm came.
Other people have tried to say that it was an eclipse of the sun. An eclipse of the sun doesn’t bring a darkness like the darkness described, and it’s a lot shorter than the three days that are mentioned here. This is a war against the gods, against their chief God; this is spiritual darkness. Let me mention this chief God. Perhaps you heard the name or read it: Ra. That’s the Egyptian sun god. That was the top god of the Egyptians. All the gods answered to Ra. Sometimes you see in their pictures of the Egyptian gods you see a round circular disc behind them, and that’s the picture of Ra; very much like the nimbus in some Christian art that they use. Leviticus 19:27, “You shall not round the side growth of your beard, nor harm the edges of your beard.” Why did God give a command not to have a round beard? It’s because the sun worshippers wanted their face to look like a sun, so they shaved themselves to have a round beard. God said, “Don’t look like the heathen.” That’s the principle that’s in Leviticus 19:27.
I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed it, but the god Ra is right in the center of the title Pharaoh—PhaRAoh. That’s Ra right in the center. Pharaoh wasn’t his name; that was a title. It’s like Abimelich, that was the king of the Philistines, or like the Caesars of Rome, or like the Shahs of Persia, or like the Czars of Russia, or the President of the United States. It’s a title. It’s not actually a name. Actually, in the name Pharaoh there are two Egyptians words. The first four letters – Phra – is the Egyptian word for “sun”, and RA is sun god. In the name Pharaoh is the sun god. They actually taught that Pharaoh was the incarnation of Ra, that he was god incarnate on the earth; Ra in human flesh. That’s why he was so stubborn and why nobody could persuade him, because he thought he was a god and they all worshipped him as a god. When you have an incarnation of a heathen god, god in the flesh, you can imagine why God would go to war against that idea, since the reality is that Jesus is God come in the flesh. God’s was against Ra, and let me state it this way; the sun is natural light. God’s war here was against natural light, and since Ra is in the middle of Pharaoh’s name, it’s also against natural man. This is the war against natural light and the natural man. Or to make it more applicable, natural is light is what we call “human wisdom”. It’s a war against human wisdom, and it’s a was against the flesh – what I do.
I want to spend the remainder of the time focused on the wonderful picture we have in verse 23, “All the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings.” Isn’t that a great passage! It was a spiritual darkness, the total absence of light. When we speak of darkness, we don’t really speak about darkness. Our darkness is full of light. We speak about some animals being nocturnal, like a cat and an owl, and they can see in the dark. No creature can see in the dark. That’s not possible to see in the dark. There’s light in our darkness. Our eyes are not keen enough to see; their eyes can see it and sees the light. There’s a lot of light in darkness.
I have a friend who is a retired master chief of the US Navy and he was explaining to me what was called a starlight scope, and that was several years ago, so they probably have even more sophisticated scopes now. It’s a scope they look through but it doesn’t magnify things. If it’s a dark night and they are looking out at a ship, it didn’t make the ship any bigger. It magnified light. The light that was in the darkness, this scope was able to magnify the light, and you could see everything on the ship, as if it were daylight. We have that. They look through these starlight scopes in the dead of night and it magnifies light and they can see people, and even see the tags and numbers, and who is the officer. That’s how light it is.
All of us have had the experience where suddenly the light goes out, and we’re blinded. After a while our eyes adjust, and we say, “We’ve adjusted to the darkness.” No, you’ve adjusted to the light. There’s light in the darkness, and you begin to adjust to see that light. I heard a blind man testify. He had his sight for about six years. Now he’s an adult, a preacher, and he asked the audience to put the palms of our hands without pressing because he didn’t want us to see stars, to block out the light, and he said, “I want you to identify with a blind man. Block out your eyes. Do you think you’ve now identified with a blind man? He said, “No. You are now seeing black. I remember that. I see nothing.” I don’t know how to interpret that, but he said, “I remember black, and you are just seeing black. I see nothing.”
I know the darkness that God brought on Egypt was the absence of all light. It’s interesting to know that the word in the Hebrew 10:22, that’s called “thick darkness”, is exactly the same word used in Genesis 1 before God said, “Let there be light.” Genesis 1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth; the earth was formless and void and darkness was over the face of the deep.” That’s before light; absence of light. That kind of darkness was the plague that came upon Egypt. When God said, “Let there be light,” that wasn’t natural light. How do I know? It’s because God said, “Let there be light,” on the first day, and it wasn’t until the fourth day that he created the light bulbs, the sun, the moon and the stars. So, it was a spiritual light, and a spiritual darkness. The thick darkness that came upon Egypt in this ninth plague was like pre-creation darkness, and the earth was without form and void.
Notice in verse 23 that it was a paralyzing darkness. The Bible said that they sat down, and couldn’t rise and couldn’t move. It was a darkness that paralyzed them. I like to relate that to 2 Peter 2:4 when God judged the angels that sinned, “If God spared not the angels that sinned, cast them down to hell, delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.” That expression “chains of darkness”, darkness is paralyzing, it’s chains. The NAS Bible says “pits of darkness”. This is spiritual darkness, and the darkness that God was dealing with. It represents the darkness of the idolatry. It’s a foretaste, of course. This is the ninth plague, and the tenth plague is final judgment. We’re getting close to final judgment, and Jesus warned the people through many parables. Matthew 22:13, “The king said to the servant, ‘Tie his hands and feet, and throw him into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth in that place. This is a precursor of final judgment, this ninth plague.
I’m not going to take time to read the references. I’ll give them, but darkness is used spiritually three different ways in the New Testament. Ignorance is called darkness, Ephesians 4:18. False teaching, error, is called darkness, 2 Corinthians 4:4. Sin, the ungodly works of darkness, men like darkness rather than light. Ignorance, error and sin; I’ll return to that when we make our application. This is the terrible darkness that the world is experiencing right now as we sit in this room filled with light; they are paralyzed out there; ignorance, false teaching, chained to sin. That’s their world, but light in our dwelling! Praise God for that!
When I describe this absolute absence of light, I’m describing, and you need to understand this to get to the plague, a darkness that cannot be penetrated by natural light. This is a spiritual darkness and no natural light can get in. This thing lasted for three days, and so Ra, the sun, is struggling to break through this darkness. I’m sure these idolaters were praying to Ra, the sun god, “Please, Ra, this darkness is terrible. Help us!” But Ra could not penetrate because natural light cannot penetrate spiritual darkness. Not only could not the sun break through from the outside, but if you were in that situation and a darkness fell upon you, wouldn’t you light a candle? Wouldn’t you set a fire, and get some kind of light? It wouldn’t work in this darkness. They could not light a candle in this darkness. Natural light cannot penetrate spiritual darkness. This lasted for three days. Just imagine paralyzed and you can’t get out of your chair. This is not like not seeing your hand in from of your face. You can’t move and are paralyzed in this darkness.
Just as the darkness was supernatural, so was the light. Don’t get the idea that darkness fell on Egypt, and Ra continued to shine on Goshen. Ra did not continue to shine on Goshen. The light that was in their dwelling was as supernatural as the darkness that covered the land of Egypt. The light that they had in their dwellings was supernatural light. What is supernatural light? We have another story that we’ll come up to where light/darkness – darkness for Egypt, light for Israel is mentioned in the book of Exodus, and it’s when Israel was out on the run towards the Red Sea, and Egypt and its army and chariots were chasing them. Exodus 14:19, “The Angel of God who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them. The pillar of cloud had moved from before them, and stood behind them, so it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel, and there was the cloud along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Therefore, one did not approach the other all night.”
It’s important to understand this passage, and the way the Lord develops spiritual light and spiritual darkness. In that story the Angel of the Lord came between them, and darkness for Egypt and light for God’s people. Spiritual light is a Person; the Angel of the Lord was the light. That has to do with Shekinah and when we do the Shekinah glory cloud I’ll give you the heart of God on Shekinah. But for now, just know that we’re talking about Shekinah being a Person, and darkness is absence of light, and spiritual darkness is absence of Jesus. He is the light. How does God combat natural darkness? He brings in natural light. We want to get rid of the darkness. How does God combat spiritual darkness? He brings in Jesus, and brings in spiritual light. Jesus is spiritual. John 8:12, Jesus said to them, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of the Life.” That’s how God handles spiritual darkness.
We read that in heaven there will be no night there. Why is that true? Revelation 21:23, “The city has not need of the sun or the moon to shine on it. The glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” You don’t need any light up there because you have Jesus. Jesus the answer to all spiritual darkness. Ephesians 2:12 talks about those in the world, “Those who are in the world are separate from Christ without hope, and without God in the world.” That’s why they are dark. The New Jerusalem is the last picture of the church in the New Testament. It’s called “the bride of the Lamb” – the last picture of the church. Why is there light through all eternity in their dwelling? Why is there no darkness? It’s because the Lamb is the light.
Let me apply it before we close. The God under attack is Ra, natural light, natural wisdom, human wisdom. As it was impossible for natural light to pierce the darkness in the ninth plagues, so natural wisdom has no power whatsoever over any spiritual darkness. Remember Jesus’ words to Peter, Matthew 16:17, “Jesus said, ‘Blessed are you Simon Barjona, flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’” Let me briefly revisit those three words, darkness as it’s used in the New Testament.
When am I guilty of worshipping Ra! I’m guilty of worshipping Ra every time I try to use natural wisdom to rid myself of spiritual darkness. I’m guilty of worshipping Ra…. Don’t forget that darkness is used for ignorance. Only God can reveal God. If I am ignorant and I don’t know some spiritual thing, and I think I need more information, I need a bigger library, I need more tools, I need a better education, I need to gather more data, I need to learn the original languages and knew Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic, that perhaps I’d get closer to the truth, I’m not only sadly mistaken, but I’m an idolater. Human wisdom will never help me, even for a moment, understanding spiritual truth. I need Jesus. You need Jesus.
Just so, darkness pictures error in the New Testament; false teaching. What’s my safeguard in life against all error in my life? Is my safeguard against cults and false teaching that I’ve got to study them and make sure I don’t get messed up with them? I’ve got to study false religions, I have to read theology books, and I’ve got to line up with some group or organization that says that they are the truth of Bible teaching? No! My one and only protection and safe guard against all error is Jesus. Do you see where we are? It’s Jesus. He’s the indwelling light, and natural light can never penetrate spiritual darkness, and the last one especially. Darkness is not only ignorance, darkness is not only error, darkness is sin, the paralyzing power of sin.
What is a Christian’s hope when they find themselves paralyzed by sin; passion, an unforgiving spirit, anger, impatience, hypocrisy, fear and anxiety and all of that? You see, if you use Ra, you’ll say, “Well, we can have victory over sin if we apply spiritual disciplines. How is your devotional life? Do you get up every morning, do you study, do you pray, do you fast, do you give, are you involved, do you fellowship, do you break bread, and all that kind of thing. “Just say ‘no’,” that what we’re hearing. If you want to stop sinning just say “no”, use your will power and determination, and make promises to God, and make vows to God, make new pledges to God. No amount of spiritual discipline will give me one moment relief from sin. I need Jesus. Supernatural light alone can deal with supernatural darkness, and only Christ can deal with this darkness. Jesus is the answer to every darkness in my life. If it’s ignorance, false teaching, sin, whatever, natural wisdom will not help.
As you know, this spiritual darkness was the last plague before the last plague. They were getting awfully close to final judgment. Nine times before Pharaoh had been warned in mercy to turn away from idolatry to trust the One and only living God. But in each case we read that he said “no”. His heart got harder and harder. He resisted, and now in this ninth plague, even when God attacks his chief god, he not only says “no” but listen to verse 28:29, “Pharaoh said to him, ‘Get away from me. Be careful. Do not see my face again. On the day you see my face you shall die.’ Moses said, ‘You’ve spoken correctly. I shall never see your face again.’” He not only said “no” in this ninth plague, this spiritual darkness, he said his final “no”. He said that it’s over. It’s a terrible place to be in, to cast out the messenger of hope, the messenger of light, and far worse to cast out the message of hope, and the message of light. So, Moses leaves, and the darkness begins to settle on Egypt. It’s still not hopeless.
I say he said his final “no”. We know that from the record, but we don’t know when anyone says their final “no”. It’s because there is always the blood of the Lamb. That’s the next plague. There’s always hope, right through Passover. So, God continues His war, and this time against human wisdom, nature’s light, and my thinking that I’m in control, and that I’m some kind of a god. I need Jesus.
I’ll close by reading two more passages. 1 Peter 2:9, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellency of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Isn’t that a great passage? 1 Thessalonians 5:4&5, “You, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness, so that the day would overtake you like a thief, for you are all the sons of light and sons of the day. You are not of night, nor of darkness.”
Heavenly Father, thank You so much that You smite in order to heal, and that you restore the years that the locust have eaten. Than You, Lord, that You are our light in our dwellings, and that you alone can chase away all ignorance, all error, and give us victory over sin. How we praise you that we have You as our Light. Enable us to proclaim the excellency of who you are. You’ve called us out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen
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