Let there be dark
We come now to the final third plague from the third cycle of signs and wonders. This set ends as the other ones with the third sign and wonder not being announced to Pharaoh, but it comes upon them. Throughout all the plagues we see God’s power over the whole earth, preservation of God’s people, God’s providence over history and hearts, and God’s punishment of evil and wicked sinners. Each sign and wonder show forth all of these four aspects and you could spend time on each of these topics and see how each of the signs and wonders shows how God relates to his creation, his people, his world and his enemies. As we come to the penultimate sign and wonder we will see God’s judgement over Pharoah.
God shows his judgement by darkening Pharaoh’s land
In the beginning God created all things out of nothing. The very first day of creation God spoke and said, Let there be light. God separated light from darkness. Light is one of the most fascinating aspects of creation that we are still seeking to be able to fathom the amazing intricate details of light. Light is able to travel at 186,282 miles per second. To put that in perspective if you were to travel at the speed of light from earth to the moon you can be back on earth in just over 1.5 seconds. Light is used throughout our days in ways that we do not even understand. Light is used for so many things like, Food formation, Growth of the human body, Regulation of Physiology, Sight and vision, Heat and temperature, Drying & evaporation, For speed regulation, Source of electrical energy, Sanitation of earth, and Killing germs viz: microorganisms. The Lord spoke and created more than the idea of a flashlight but this phenomenal aspect of creation critical for life. In that first day God separated light from darkness. Light and darkness were not merely the break of day and night but light and darkness became words throughout the bible to speak of light and darkness in a more poetic sense of good and evil. As the Psalmist writes in Psalm 18:28, “For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness.” Or Isaiah 5:20, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” Darkness can be the symbol of judgement and desolation, Zephaniah says “A Day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Zep 1:15).
God shows his judgement in the penultimate plague by not shining forth light but removing his light. This darkness comes forth without warning over Pharaoh’s land. This darkness is so dark it can be felt. This is a powerful image, just as light gives us more than just the ability to see light can bring forth warmth, comfort and security. Darkness though was to be felt. Most of the time we are not in utter darkness. Light comes from many various sources, our skin is bioluminescent, although our human eye cannot see the radiation of light. Here in Egypt darkness covered the land, so that people would stay in their beds for three days. Three days in utter darkness. As we think about the amplification of the plagues as they progress you wonder why this is the second to last plague. Surely boils or death are worse than darkness, but I think we could not fathom what this would have been like. This is the first plague mentioned in Psalm 105:28. As we think about how the signs and wonders is God showing his power over the gods of Egypt (Num 33:4). The supreme god of Egypt was known as Ra, was the king of the deities and the father of all creation. He was the patron of the sun, heaven, kingship, power, and light. Pharaoh was seen as a demigod who was incarnate version of Ra. Here the Lord shows his power and judgement over the supreme god of all the Egyptians. The god they had called upon and sought to protect them. But now his he hidden, gone, and defeated. The greatest of Egyptian gods has no power over the Lord. Pharaoh is unable to stop this darkness.
When we think about Christ coming to earth, we often think of him as the light coming in darkness as the apostle John begins his gospel, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4–5). However, what we need to remember as the Light of the world came into the dark world, the father also covered the earth in darkness and Christ descended into the dark grave for three days. Jesus came to earth and the Father sent his judgment upon his Son for the sins of his people. Matthew records the events of that darkness in Matthew 27:45-46, “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The eternally begotten Son of the father, the second person of the Trinity, united to the body of a man in the pain and anguish of the Crucifixion. He cries out as the darkness of judgement comes upon him. Jesus quotes the words written of him from Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest” (Psalm 22:1–2). As the third stanza of Alas! Did my savior bleed says,
“Well might the sun in darkness hide,
and shut its glories in,
when God, the mighty maker, died
for his own creature’s sin.”
The darkness that should be for us, was taken away from us. The grave which we deserve in utter darkness and cast out of the presence of God. We deserve to be cast out, but yet Christ was cast out for us. We deserve to be judged yet Christ was judged in our place. But for only those who out their faith in Jesus. Darkness is inevitable, the question is who will face the darkness, for those in Christ it has been taken by Jesus for those outside of Christ theirs will be for all eternity.
God shows his judgement by denying Pharaoh’s condition
The second thing we see in this passage is the Lord denying Pharaoh’s condition. Pharaoh has not always said no to Moses’s request, he has told Moses that the people can go but they cannot go far, or they can go but only the men, or in this case they can go but cannot take all of the livestock. Pharaoh throughout all of this period of time has tried to show his power in negotiating and yet every time he has come up short. The Lord is the one who is most powerful. Pharaoh seeks to limit what the Israelites would be able to take. Moses however does not cave to Pharaoh’s request. Moses explains that “Our livestock also must go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we must take of them to serve the LORD our God, and we do not know with what we must serve the LORD until we arrive there.”” (Exodus 10:26). The people of God will be saves to serve the Lord, but that will not do it how they seek. They know they are called to serve the Lord, but the Lord will give them instructions on how they are to worship him. Godly worship is not created by man. As we will see in the golden calf incident. As we will see when we get to Exodus 20 and the ten commandments. God tells man how he is to be worshipped and man does not make up his own way to worship. That is what Paul explains in Romans one that man exchanges the truth about God for a lie, and worships the creature rather than the creator. That is the point Jesus makes to the woman at the well in John chapter 4, the woman tried to explain that it didn’t matter where you worshipped God, which was against Deuteronomy 12:4. Jesus said there will be a time when the true believers will worship in Spirit and in Truth. Paul in Philippians chapter 3 says, “For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—” (Phil 3:3). Pharaoh sought to be able to tell the people where to worship, who could worship and how to worship, all of these are not up to man but to God.
This principle is not merely an Old Testament principle but a New Testament one, we do not make up ways in which we seek to worship God, but God’s word tells us how to worship him. One pastor once explained the issue of modern worship is that we think the consumer of worship is us. We think worship is about what we feel and what we get out of it, however, worship is about God and God alone. When we worship God, we cannot come to him and tell him how he is to be worshiped but we must understand that God commands us how to worship him. Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well that we must worship God in Spirit and in truth. Biblical worship is centered around God and not man. We worship the Triune God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Biblical worship seeks to worship God in accordance to His revelation found in the Scriptures (truth) through the help of the Holy Spirit through the mediation of Jesus Christ, the Son, with the communion shared with the Father. James Torrance defines worship as, “The gift of participating through [by] the Holy Spirit in the incarnate Son’s communion with the Father.”
God shows his judgement by hardening Pharaoh’s heart
Lastly, we see God’s judgement by the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go. Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me; take care never to see my face again, for on the day you see my face you shall die.” Moses said, “As you say! I will not see your face again.”” (Exodus 10:27–29). Pharaoh is denied one condition but granted his second condition. The day has now come, his judgement will be complete. Pharaoh tells Moses to get out and stay out. We find out that Moses warns him of the last sign and wonder that will fall upon Egypt (Chapter 11). Pharaoh has stood opposed to God from the very beginning. Nine times Pharaoh has seen God’s power and might through these great signs and wonders and yet his heart is hardened every time. In Stead of falling to his knees in humility he stands firmer in his arrogance.
The reality is that many people love the darkness. John writes in John 3:19-21, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God” (John 3:19–21). RC Sproul wrote of this in a children’s book called the Lightnings. People love the darkness and not the light. Made to be reflectors of light but in sought to hid in the darkness. They love the dark. Pharaoh has seen all of these signs and wonders and yet his love is only for his own pride and sin. God is about to warn Pharaoh that he will be cut off.
In the face of these judgments, the challenge to us is clear: turn to God and forsake the love of darkness. Just as God demonstrated His supremacy over Egypt’s gods, He still reigns today. Embrace the Light, Jesus Christ, who dispels the darkness of sin and judgment. Choose the path of true worship, aligning ourselves with God’s revealed truth. Let us not be like Pharaoh, persisting in rebellion, but instead, humbly submit to the God who offers salvation from darkness into His marvelous light.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” (Isaiah 9:2)