1. Darkness Over the Land of Egypt
21 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darknes over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was pitch darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. 23 They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the people of Israel had light where they lived.
We see now the 9th Plague…the Plague of Darkness.
Day after day of darkness would be a very concerning time. For three days in Egypt, no one could see anything. This would frighten anyone. This was especially concerning for Egypt…
The Egyptians worshipped the sun. The past plagues have been targeted for the undoing of Egypt’s false gods. Each one focused on their god’s specialties showing that their false gods were powerless against the Power of God. This plague was especially frightening because of all the gods of Egypt the gods surrounding their sun worship were the most elevated and viewed as the most powerful of all Egypt’s deities.
Horus- god of the sunrise
Aten- god of the noonday sun
Atum- god of the sunset
Their supreme deity, Amon-Re, a solar deity, whom they considered god of creation, who named all things,
who created man, who has no opponent among all the other gods. This god offered the Egyptians the promise of a resurrection. At every sunrise, Horus through Amon-Re offered them a hope of resurrection.
Pharaoh was viewed as the incarnation of Amon-Re. Amon-Re was believed to maintain cosmic order. He kept everything in orbit and he was over the system of all creation.
The Eclipse of Amon-Re was seen that day and it lasted for three whole days. Did their creator die? Was he not doing his job? Did he loose power?
God defeats the most powerful of all the Egyptian deities last and all He does is turn out the lights.
The Bible uses the term deep darkness. It was a darkness that could be felt; a darkness of black despair. It was unannounced. All Moses did was lift up his arms and pray and the darkness fell on the land of Egypt. This was a supernatural miracle brought by God.
God has absolute power over creation. It belongs to Him and He is sovereign over it. He created out of nothing and He alone can control it as He desires.
Here again we see God uncreate Let there be not light but darkness.
There are very important spiritual aspects to the Plague of Darkness…
There is going to be darkness over the whole land of Egypt. Now what is the significance of this darkness? Let me suggest at least three things about the darkness.
A. Darkness is a biblical sign of God’s judgment. Throughout the Old Testament and especially in the prophets, the threat of darkness is a sign of God’s judgment, and in the New Testament it continues to be a sign of God’s judgment.
The unrepentant sinner will be cast into the place of outer darkness.
Matthew 8:11–12 (ESV)
11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Here is the strange dynamic that Jesus tells us about. God in John’s Gospel is often represented as Light. Sin is represented as darkness. Unless God works to bring to life the dead heart the sinner loves darkness over the light. We could say, the sinner loves their sin over God.
John 3:19–20 (ESV)
19 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. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
The Bible also teaches that unbelievers walk in darkness.
Ephesians 4:17–18 (ESV)
17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.
This does sound a lot like Pharoah.
B. Darkness is specifically associated in the Bible with God’s abandonment and that is one reason it is so severe a sign of His judgment. What does the Bible teach us about our God? He is light, and so when a judgment sign of darkness comes it indicates His removal of Himself from a situation for blessing. He is light. When He withdraws Himself, and darkness is left in the wake of His withdrawal, it’s a sign of His abandonment of a situation for blessing. When He withdraws, only darkness is left.
God’s withdrawal of light and His judgment in darkness shows His abandonment. This is most keenly seen on the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Turn with me to the book of Matthew. In Matthew, chapter 27 verse 45, we read this, “Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour, and about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?” The withdrawing of God’s blessing, and in this sign of darkness and judgment against Egypt, we have a foreshadowing of that darkness, that judgment, that forsakenness, that abandonment that dereliction which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ endured on our behalf. So, darkness is specifically associated with abandonment in the Bible.
C. This plague of darkness basically returns us to the situation that existed in the world, in the universe prior to the first day of creation.
Genesis 1:1–2 (ESV)
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
This is a description of the world prior to God’s structuring creative days, and we’re told three things: that in this state the earth was orderless, it was chaotic, it was void, it was empty, and it was dark, there was no light.
But what we see in the plague of darkness is returning us to a situation prior to the first day of creation. God is indicating that He is about to deconstruct and de-create Egypt. His hand of judgment is against Egypt, and now He is going to Egypt to, as it were, a pre-creational state. Emptiness, chaos and darkness will characterize her.
What is just as amazing and significant and we don’t want to miss this, is that when the Israelites were, still had daylight. They were not under judgement but under mercy.
Like darkness, light also has significance. God’s presence with His people is represented as light. Where ever God is in benevolence for His people there is light. God is light.
1 John 1:5 (ESV)
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
God Word is light…
2 Peter 1:19 (ESV)
19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,
We, who believe, were once in darkness but now we are in the light.
Ephesians 5:8 (ESV)
8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
2. We Will All Go, Even Our Animals
24 Then Pharaoh called Moses and said, “Go, serve the Lord; your little ones also may go with you; only let your flocks and your herds remain behind.” 25 But Moses said, “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God. 26 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.”
Have you noticed, that Pharoah always plays the fool. He acts like He is in charge and thinks he can bargain with God?
Previously, when God said let My people go and Moses explain some of the details like God wanted them to go three day’s journey, well I’ll let them go just outside of Goshen. God said to let them all go. Pharoah said well I’ll let just the men go. God said all even the animals and Pharoah said well, I’ll let the people go but the herds must stay behind.
We must be very careful that we never seek to bargain with God. One thing we learn here is that God is not in to negotiations. His will is going to be accomplished. When we read certain commands in Scripture, we must seek to obey them whole heartedly. We must try to be fully obedient.
According to Moses, the animals were to go with them because God may want them to make sacrificial offerings. Moses was unsure on this. However, the bottom line is God said bring all the animals with you and that was enough for Moses. He did what God told him.
3. Pharoah’s Hard Heart and His Threat
27 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go. 28 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.” 29 Moses said, “As you say! I will not see your face again.”
Get out of my face Moses. I’m sick of looking at you. If I see you again, I will kill you. Those are some serious threats. Pharoah was still in darkness and refused to have anything to do with the Light. He hated God so much that he even threatened God’s representative.
The stark reality is Pharoah knew God had done all this. He knew because on multiple occasions he asked Moses to pray for him to God that the plagues would subside.
There is a surprising, providential intervention of God. Then there is Pharaoh’s threat, but his threat is a self-curse. He doesn’t know it, of course. He doesn’t know that he’s cursed himself in this threat that he’s uttered, but he does and we’ve been seeing this happen all along. Pharaoh will make a threat and we all read it, having read the end of the story and we think to ourselves immediately, “Uh oh, better stop talking now, Pharaoh, you’re only making this worse on yourself.” So if you look at verse 27 you’ll see God’s sovereignty displayed in the obstruction of Pharaoh’s conditional plans to let Israel go. Pharaoh says, “Okay, go ahead and serve, but here are my qualifications, here are my conditions, here are the executions to your proposal.” And Pharaoh is ready on those conditions to let them go, but God’s sovereignty intervenes. In verse 27, the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart. It’s the fifth time that we’ve heard the phrase, “The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart.” What’s the result? “And he was not willing to let them go.” The Lord intervenes and Pharaoh becomes unwilling to yield, unwilling to bargain, unwilling to let them go.
He also knew that the Israelites were in the light. Other times, he had sent his people to see if they were also receiving the plagues and he was told they were not. Yet, Pharoah refused to walk into the light. He loved darkness. He loved to pretend he was God. He loved the deception that he was in charge. He hated God.
There can be many applications to this text but one is what the Apostle Paul understood. After he wrote about all God did to secure our salvation…
Romans 8:31 (ESV)
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?