Scripture Reading: Exodus 9:1-35, Exodus 10:1-29, Exodus 11:1-10, Deuteronomy 7:6-11, Romans 9:17
As I write this, my small midwestern farm is covered in thin coat of frost. The fields lay fallow. The animals huddle close to the barn rather than roaming the brown, sparse pastures. It’s the dead center of winter, and frankly, I’m sick of it. The cold I can handle. The bare trees don’t bother me much. It’s the darkness that gets me. As endless blackness settles in before supper each evening, I find myself flipping every switch in the house.
We weren’t made to dwell in darkness.
Perhaps, as God’s plagues rose to a crescendo in the book of Exodus, we should not be surprised, that darkness came near the bitter end—
After their water supply was poisoned
After the frogs, gnats, and flies filled their homes
After their livestock died
After boils covered their bodies
After hail mixed with thunder
After locusts ate every leaf on every tree—
After all that, came the darkness. And not just any darkness: “A darkness to be felt” (Exodus 10:21). This was a physical darkness, one I imagine Egypt must’ve felt in her bones. I have felt this kind of oppressive darkness in my own life. I bet you have too.
Simply flip on the news, and the darkness of this world will wrap itself around you like an uncomfortable, scratchy blanket. Or standby as someone you love suffers with sickness, and feel the weight of darkness and fear that seem to seep into every fiber of your being. Watch marriages crumble around you, listen carefully as geopolitical leaders threaten to wipe each other off the globe—all while facing your own personal anxiety and sorrow.
As long as sin still exists among us and within us, we remain familiar with the plague of total darkness, feeling it in our bones too. Darkness, death, and sin force us to see our need for redemption. We must see our need before we can marvel in the grace of the gospel—the grace of Christ Jesus, who pushes back against all darkness.
“And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”
- Revelation 22:5
Because of the ninth plague, the Egyptians huddled in paralyzing darkness for three whole days. They couldn’t have known it, but they were telling the first chapter of the greatest story ever told. As the Israelites gathered around the only light left in the land, they were foreshadowing the rest of the story.
Soon enough, Jesus, our Savior, would spend three days in utter darkness (Matthew 12:40). Dead and buried in a borrowed tomb, He would wait, just like the Egyptians did. This Lenten season helps us watch the horizon, waiting with holy expectation to remember the moment when the stone rolled away and the darkness was obliterated by light.
In this gap between the Resurrection and Christ’s return, we remain the keepers of the light. No longer held captive by the darkness, we gather around the beacon of hope that is Jesus. Without the suffocating darkness, we’d never turn toward the light. God used a hard-hearted Pharaoh and a series of unthinkable calamities to reveal His glory, to prove that there is no one like Him in all the earth (Exodus 9:14).
Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.