21 The Lord said to Moses, “Stretch your arm toward the sky, and everything will be covered with darkness thick enough to touch.” 22 Moses stretched his arm toward the sky, and Egypt was covered with darkness for three days. 23During that time, the Egyptians could not see each other or leave their homes, but there was light where the Israelites lived.
24The king sent for Moses and told him, “Go worship the Lord! And take your families with you. Just leave your sheep, goats, and cattle.”
25“No!” Moses replied. “You must let us offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, 26and we won't know which animals we will need until we get there. That's why we can't leave even one of them here.”
27This time the Lord made the king so stubborn 28that he said to Moses, “Get out and stay out! If you ever come back, you're dead!”
29“Have it your way,” Moses answered. “You won't see me again.”
Darkness symbolizes evil, chaos and judgment. It’s the obvious opposite of light. In the beginning of the creation account in Genesis, God makes the formless and dark world light. This ninth plague unravels God’s creation and returns the land to chaos. It attacks Egypt’s most potent religious symbol, the sun god Ra, and Pharaoh himself who was considered the incarnation of Amon-Ra. In the Bible, God is characterized as light (John 1:5) but when he withdraws his presence there is a supernatural darkness that can be felt. This plague can be touched by the Egyptians but the people of Goshen were bathed in light. Pharaoh is exasperated beyond reason as he ironically banishes Moses from “seeing” him again.
Throughout God’s story, those who follow him are portrayed as walking in the light. John’s Gospel often uses the image of light to refer to Jesus and to those who believe in him. Yet there are some who choose to live in darkness and enjoy it – flaunt it even. Many in our pluralistic society today would feel quite comfortable in Egypt. Acceptable boundaries are widened in our culture regularly. Shows that were considered cutting-edge a few decades ago seem laughably outdated in the 21st century. We are tolerant people except of the idea that there is one maker of the universe who created us for his purpose.
Well-known pastor Tim Keller notes that, “The Maker of the Universe became unmade on the cross in order to remake us.” That is the point of this story. Without God’s gift of redemption to us, we would not be children of light. Disobedience to the unique God of Israel results in chaos and darkness. May we be like the people of Goshen living in the light even if the world surrounding us is plunged into the darkness.
God of Light, you have created all things for your glory and for your purpose. May we walk in the light as you are the light. Banish darkness from our hearts and help us to shine brightly so that others may see you clearly in us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.