Embrace The Darkness
Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.
Times of darkness come to all of us. We may experience tragic, inexplicable loss; confusion; failure; rejection; or for some of us spiritual emptiness. Our response in these moments often often is the product of our previous encounters with God. If we have developed trust in God in the light, we’ll embrace Him in the darkness, and in fact, we’ll even embrace the darkness as His path for us. Moses had just come down from the mountain and delivered the Ten Commandments to the people. The message didn’t come by email. Lightening struck, thunder boomed, trumpets blared, and thick smoke surrounded the mountain and blotted out the sun. The people cowered at the magnificent and terrifying display of the majesty of God! They insisted that Moses talk to them- they didn’t want to hear God’s voice because they thought they would die!
Moses, though, wasn’t terrified. His experiences with God at the burning bush, in his confrontations with Pharaoh, at the Red Sea, in providing water from the rock as well as manna and quail from the sky, and on the mountain that very day all convinced him that God was trustworthy no matter what circumstances he faced.
His faith in God was so strong that when the people backed away from the darkness, Moses moved toward it. He was convinced God was there and he wanted to connect with Him as much as possible.
When we experience darkness, we’ll back away if our faith is weak, but we’ll move into it if our faith has been strengthened by years of experience in seeing God’s faithfulness, grace, and power,
Anxiety is not only a pain which we must ask God to assuage, but also a weakness we must ask Him to pardon.
Light never fears darkness because it knows that the power to overcome it lies within itself. In the text above we read that it was the presence of God within the darkness. God often wraps Himself in darkness so that He can come near to us. His glory is so powerful that scripture says that no human could look fully on Him and live. On one occasion Moses asked if he might see God in all His glory. God in His graciousness put Moses in the cliff of a rock and covered him with His hand as He passed by. He gave Moses only a glimpse of His backside. The Bible says that when Moses went back to the camp his face glowed with such brightness that a veil had to be placed over his head so that the Israelites could look at him.
But what about us and those times of darkness that seem to frequent our lives? Surely we might think that God isn’t in that. But let’s think about those dark times in our lives. While they have been times of great stress, perhaps fear, or anxiety and worry, haven’t they also been times of more intense seeking of God in prayer? For some of us God always waits in the darkness for He knows that it will be darkness that drives us to seek Him. But if we wait until darkness comes before we come to know God, it will certainly affect our faith and trust.
Moses didn’t fear the darkness God was calling him into because he had learned to trust God in many other times. Moses had learned to seek God in the light when life was filled with good things. At each occasion of need, God had met Moses’ need and Moses was sure that it would be the same once he answered the invitation to meet with God in the darkness. When we walk consistently with God, trusting Him to lead us and guide us, we, too, can find the faith to trust God even when we can’t see our way clear.
God works mighty acts in the darkness. When Christ was crucified on the cross for our sins, God acted in the darkness. The Bible says that Christ who knew no sin became sin and died as the substitute for sinners. As He completed the work of redemption, He did so in the darkness for scripture says that darkness covered Calvary. To the disciples the darkness may have seemed to put a period on the end of their hopes and dreams. To them the darkness was a fitting expression of all they had lost. Little did they know that in reality the darkness was hiding a mighty war as Christ conquered the power of sin and three days later conquered death and the grave when He rose from the dead. Like them, we sometimes can only see the darkness. But if we are being led by the Holy Spirit and encounter darkness we know that He is leading us into the darkness to work something wonderful in us. Consider Christ, who after being baptized by John and then having the Holy Spirit descend upon Him and the Father affirming that He was the Beloved Son of God, was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days of fasting. At the end of His fast, He encounters Satan who tempts Him three times to sin. You might say that this was a dark place in the life of Christ. Yet we read that He overcame the devil and taught us to do so by speaking the truth of the Word of God against every temptation.
Since God is omnipresent- everywhere all the time, we have no reason to fear the darkness for God is there too. In every dark place we will find God if we will seek for Him. The Bible says that we have been given weapons of warfare that are not carnal( of the flesh or human effort) but weapons that are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds and every thing that exalts itself against God and bringing every thought captive to Christ Jesus. That’s the secret of never fearing darkness. Sometimes God has us to wade into the darkness so that strongholds might be torn down. Other times it’s a lesson for us to allow Christ to captivate our thought life so that we will think on good things. Wherever God leads us or calls us to will always become the place of blessing even if it looks dark and scary to those around us. Embrace the darkness for in doing so we embrace the God hidden in the darkness.
Dr. John Thompson