Sunday, January 3, 2010

Tales In The Dark

"What I tell you in the darkness, speak ye in the light" (Matt. 10:27).

The title for this post and the scripture came several weeks ago, on Dec 17, 2010. I put the title in the box and wrote the scripture and then. . . nothing. I had nothing else to say. A tiny bell had rung and it felt important. So, since I thought it was stupid to post like that, I saved it in my drafts. I've looked at it several times in confusion wondering what I had wanted to say. I didn't know. Still, I had the sense it meant something. I had no idea what I was supposed to do with it so I just closed it up again.

January 1, I was reading my Bible and that bell went off again. I thought fleetingly "That's odd." I learned long ago that nothing is really coincidental. Things happen for a reason. You don't have to agree. But small things are like pebbles dropped in a lake. They start ripples that move outward, forever if the source is large enough. In theory, if you drop one in the middle of the Atlantic there will be ripples that become waves that have great impact somewhere.

That second bell went of when I read the following scripture. "So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was" Ex. 20:21 The word "was" was not in the original Hebrew text. It is put there for clarity. It is italicized in the KJV to show this. So, Moses drew near the thick darkness where God.

I did nothing at first when I found it. But it kept coming to my mind and eventually I got out of bed that evening and marked it in yellow in my study Bible. Again, I had that sense that this was important... at least to me. So, I set up a marker and left the verse in the Bible.

Today, I became restless. That verse and the post I had started but not finished continued to gnaw at me. I decided to search for the phrase "darkness" in the Bible. I read each entry that fit my search criteria. Darkness is a broad term and not all verses I found appeared to relate. They didn't give me that same clanging sound in my head. But I did start to notice the connection to the word "God" in some of the results. Mentally, I refined my search farther.

Of course, as Christians we don't connect God to darkness. He's all about light. Bringing light to the world and lighting our paths. He's the bright and morning star. His light has expanded to encompass the globe in nations once shrouded in thick darkness. Everything we learn about God is stated in terms of brilliance. The Bible clearly states these terms in regard to God's character. It even says that God is not found in darkness.

As I searched I started pasting all the scriptures to my document. I realized I was in trouble because I usually over research things anyway and the Bible is a big book and the word "darkness" is repeated . . . well. . . a lot.

Bells and Voices

I further refined my search and formulated a filter to assist. What was I looking for based on the two verses already "given" to me? I sort of knew the answer. God can be found in darkness. Well, that flies in the face of all Christianity! It was just a little voice that slipped past the sound of the bell.

However, after reading all the scriptures I felt were closely related to my first two and which seemed to catch in my filter, I noted two things. In the Old Testament God was frequently mentioned as "inhabiting darkness". In the New Testament, he was frequently mentioned "inhabiting light" and literally banishing darkness. It confused me at first but after thinking about it a bit, it made sense. Jesus is considered to be the light of the world. We believe He illuminated the darkness where God dwelt. That resonated with me but that was not the direction I was headed. I noted it for another study.

I listed all the scriptures I felt related in some way to my first two and my filter. There are dozens but I wouldn't use them all. I was looking for the reason those first two verses kept ringing in my head. What do they mean?

As I did my search, I noticed in many places where God revealed important information to a person, He did it in thick darkness. Sometimes, this terrified the human. Sometimes, they simply took the news and made the necessary changes. Most of the time I suspect they were scared witless. That's why so much dictation took place. When you are afraid and in the dark, you don't think too well on your own.

"And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great  darkness fell upon him." Gen. 15:12

"And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:" Ex. 10:22

"The Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness." 1 Kings 8:12 

"Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne." Ps 97:2

In each instance God was cloaked in darkness but he was there, acting in some capacity. Giving Abram a dream or dealing with the stubborn Egyptians. That was interesting to me. I've been living in very dark places. I was still in those dark places. It was frightening and I don't think to well but. . .at least I was hearing bells.

Fire And Smoke

Next I discovered the story of the Exodus where God put a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night between the Hebrews and the Egyptians. This was to protect the Hebrews and not allow their recapture. What I didn't know was that there was a dual perception to this cloud/pillar.

To me the pillar of fire could easily be seen as a cloud in the daylight because . . . well, it produced huge quantities of smoke. I've seen enormous fires that appeared to be nothing but thick billowing smoke. You couldn't even see the fire! Until it got dark. The Bible says that the Egyptians only perceived the darkness. They never saw the pillar of fire! Read the verse with an emphasis on the terms "them" and "these" and you will see what I mean.

"And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night." Ex. 14:20

This cloud was darkness to the Egyptians but it was light to the Hebrews. The Egyptians didn't see the light! They saw only a great towering darkness before them and they weren't about to cross that line. Remember in the Old Testament God cloaked himself in thick darkness.

"And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness." Ex 4:11

"These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me." Deut. 5:22

Everyone outside the cloud saw thick darkness. Moses walked along the road and stepped into that  darkness.

Down A Dark Road

Many of the scriptures I found referred to the impact of this darkness on others. Frequently, darkness is laid across someone's path. This darkness was so thick, so terrible that the wicked couldn't even speak when confronted with it.

"He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail." 1 Sam 2:9

It always surrounded the Almighty. "And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies." 2 Sam. 22:12 & Ps. 18:11 

"He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet." 2 Sam. 22:10 & Ps. 18:9

Trouble in the Dark

Job said God set the darkness in his path. He couldn't avoid it; it was across the path he had to take. Moses went into the darkness. Why? Why would God set darkness in the path of anyone, particularly people He held in high regard? Would God put darkness in our paths? Yes.

"He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths." Job 19:8

"He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light. He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old." Lam. 3:2 & 6

"When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness." Job 30:26

WHY? The question screamed at me. Why would he do that? And if it was there, why would anyone enter that darkness as Moses had? Why would they have to go through the darkness at all? There is no light there. It is a darkness you can feel, that burns its way into your soul and consumes you. You don't know what is there waiting. Why would I go into that darkness? Because there are secrets in the dark.

"He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him." Dan 2:22

"And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel." Isa 45:3

"He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death." Job 12:22

There is more to this story, but not today. There are a dozen more scriptures, but they'll still be there later. Today, that is what I needed to know. I heard it in the dark.

"Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee." Isa 60:1-2

"And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them." Isa. 42:16

"Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me." Micah 7:8

Revised 2/8/15