Lighten our darkness

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Reflect on the symbolism of ‘darkness’ and ‘light’ in relation to your faith.

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Bible passage Exodus 10:21-29

The Plague of Darkness
 21 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt—darkness that can be felt." 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. 23 No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.

 24 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and said, "Go, worship the LORD. Even your women and children may go with you; only leave your flocks and herds behind."

 25 But Moses said, "You must allow us to have sacrifices and burnt offerings to present to the LORD our God. 26 Our livestock too must go with us; not a hoof is to be left behind. We have to use some of them in worshiping the LORD our God, and until we get there we will not know what we are to use to worship the LORD."

 27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he was not willing to let them go. 28 Pharaoh said to Moses, "Get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die."

 29 "Just as you say," Moses replied, "I will never appear before you again."

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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Solid darkness
The ‘darkness that can be felt’ (v 21) may refer to the hamsin – a wind that blew sporadically for about 50 days, bringing sandstorms in its wake. With the air thick with sand, visibility dropped, making the darkness forcefully, and painfully, felt. This is just one instance (see also Exodus 14:21) where God harnesses the created order to accomplish his purposes – in this case, judgement.

In human thought, art and literature, darkness is often used as a metaphor for ignorance, difficulty, despair, even evil; while light symbolises knowledge, understanding, goodness. The Bible frequently describes redemption as deliverance from darkness or moving from darkness into light (Isaiah 9:2; Ephesians 5:8). In contrast, to be in darkness is to be without God, hence without eternal life.

Comforting light
Goshen, where the Israelites lived, was protected from this phenomenon (v 23). While suffering the consequences of Pharaoh’s wrath, God’s people are protected from the wrath of God. When Jesus declared, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ (John 8:12), this was not a guarantee that we will never know dark times in this world; it is a promise that we are saved from eternal darkness.


‘Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ’ (Book of Common Prayer).

Tanya Ferdinandusz

Deeper Bible study

Have you ever visited one of those wonderful limestone caverns with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites? Then the guide switches off the lights and it is pitch black. It is only for a minute but it is very frightening. ‘Darkness that can be felt’ (v 21) is a good description; in that kind of dark you lose all sense of direction and even of reality. To be in the dark like that for three days would be torture indeed. Egypt was in the dark in more ways than one. That the Israelites ‘had light’ (v 23) is not only a sign to them and the Egyptians that God cared for his own oppressed people but also symbolic of the fact that knowledge of God is necessary to really live in the light. Thinking in this context of Jesus as ‘the light of the world’ (John 8:12) can be very helpful.

Even after all that happened, Pharaoh is not willing to give up control, still seeing himself as in charge. He insists that he must and will set the terms of any Israelite departure. In Egypt, as in several Ancient Near Eastern cultures, kings were often seen not only as representing the gods but as gods themselves. Pharaoh appears to have bought into the myth. The God of Israel may indeed be powerful, but this is Pharaoh’s own territory and he will not concede it! Hanging on to his own power was more important than any harm that might come to his people. If there was to be any hope for him and his people, as well as for Israel, there needed to be recognition of God as the present and active One who is sovereign over the whole world. That recognition had not come and Pharaoh himself closed the door on any further negotiations.

Mary Evans

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  • Rachael Hampton | Thursday, 16 February 2017

    Mary's last comment in Deeper causes me/us to cry out to God in anguish for the many people in this world who are suffering because of the decisions their leaders have made, and are making. Lord have mercy, and reveal Yourself to them, LIGHT. Such a beautiful thing, whether physical or spiritual. Jesus said in in Matt. 5:14 You are the light of the world. Wooo. Us? You and me? Pin pricks of light over this whole earth, darkened by sin, shining like myriads of stars. My husband recently did a blog on that verse. If you would like to check it out it's on

  • Rachael Hampton | Thursday, 16 February 2017

    Thank you Keith for compiling that WL tribute for Brenda. It must have been quite a task, and we are glad to know it was a comfort to her family. Thanks BARBARA for that encouraging report, and the Dalai Lama clip. ELIZABETH, you, and I know many others also, are living out the beautiful truth that when life throws us into dark places we are warmed, comforted and guided by the Light that darkness can never overcome. John 1:5. Blessings and strength to all.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Friday, 17 February 2017

    We don't/can't shovel out the darkness and then light appears. No! We simply turn on the light and the darkness flees. Similarly, we don't walk in the Spirit as a result of overcoming the flesh, rather overcoming the flesh is the result of walking in the Spirit. It's taken me a long time to realise this and I thank God for this simple transforming truth.

  • Eileen Smith | Friday, 17 February 2017

    Thank you KEITH for enabling us to express our tributes to Brenda to her family

  • Elizabeth Sadler | Friday, 17 February 2017

    Thanks you SARA,OAKLEY and others.....our God is faithful !

  • Ian Whyte | Friday, 17 February 2017

    This was the last plague before Passover and lasted 3 days. The same total darkness covered the earth for 3 hours before Jesus died.

  • Adam Julians | Friday, 17 February 2017

    It is interesting that God said to leave livestock behind but that Moses said to pharaoh that it must come with them. In the midst of difficulties it's always tempting to want a little "extra" than what is needed. By way of darkness and light - what one of us does not know the darkness that is within? It's easy to "other" people and liken "them" to pharaoh and Egyptians and "us" to the oppressed and on a journey of freedom. But we only have control over ourselves and it's better to have self control than control a large number of cities. Therefore if we acknowledge and accept there is darkness in us, be kind to ourselves and surrender it to the light we can then be lights to others and obedient to Jesus in shining out light. Finding that the darkness hates the light and we may very well find that we are told to "go" at times by people. And that's OK. God has it all planned out and real security can only be found in him.

  • Frank Collins | Friday, 17 February 2017

    Apologies if I clicked the 'inappropriate' button on my small phone screen. ELIZABETH. praying for you today.

  • Angela Munday | Friday, 17 February 2017

    So here is Pharoah again, lost in the darkness of his own making; unable to receive from God or offer understanding to others. Some lights remain hidden forever; such sadness. When the joy of the Lord is felt we know we have been 'ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, who like me his praise should sing?'........Father God, You help each individual in their understanding as they come before You with open hands; thanks be to You. Amen.

  • Teresa Ballard | Friday, 17 February 2017

    Thank you, GILVIN - great truths so simply put, and ADAM - how often I pray for the Holy Spirit to shine His light on that darkness within me that, like Pharaoh, wishes to keep control rather than surrender!

  • Oakley Bookworm | Friday, 17 February 2017

    I relished our recent read through the book of Ruth...Exodus, not so much. I don't know why, but I didn't feel any enthusiasm for a return to it. I remembered the words of quite a well-known pastor, who said "Christianity is left foot right foot" sometimes you just have to knuckle down and do what you know is right even if your experience isn't all rainbows and unicorns! Having said that, although the lessons and commentaries have been more of a duty than a joy, for me, some of the comments have been a really blessing. Again, GILVIN, the nail on the head with your observation that you don't feel in the Spirit by trying to overcome the flesh, but rather, you overcome the flesh when you feel in the Spirit. A simple truth I hold on my head. May or also be branded onto my heart.

  • Oakley Bookworm | Friday, 17 February 2017

    "feel = dwell. Drat auto correct and no edit features!!!!!

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Friday, 17 February 2017

    Ha ha OAKLEY, nice one Dwell rather than Feel. We know where we end up when we Dwell on our Feelings! Praise God we can choose.

  • Lynda Spencer | Friday, 17 February 2017

    We are all different, OAKLEY. Maybe you had to struggle through Exodus because we both read WL and God knew that these chapters and commentaries were exactly what I have needed these last few days!! GILVIN, such a simple truth and so helpful. Thank you. RACHAEL, I couldn't get your husband's blog - just an error message. Would love to read it if there is another way to link. In our church we have been / are studying the I AM statements of Jesus, from John's gospel, with the help of a series of sermons by Charles Price. This week we considered 'I Am the Light of the World.' Well worth a look!!

  • Lynda Spencer | Friday, 17 February 2017

    Also mant to say a huge thank you to KEITH for passing on our messages to Brenda's family and conveying theirs to us. God bless you.

  • Peter Oliver | Friday, 17 February 2017

    Some people believe that this. Darkness was caused thick fog or sand storms , but if you in to a windowless room is cupboard ect it's so black you will feel it . GODS Judgements are designed to bring about repentance sadly Pharoew spurnernd it .

  • Peter Oliver | Friday, 17 February 2017

    Sorry about predictive text changing letters

  • Barbara Sabin | Friday, 17 February 2017

    LYNDA thankyou for the I AM sermon of Charles Price.I found it very enlightening. I remember my Minister saying in discipling classes when I was a young Christian ''Darkness will not come to light, light has to go to darkness'' Jesus says in the King James version Do not hide your light under a bushel or in The Message “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. Darkness in the dead of the night when I need to get out of bed to go to the bathroom and do not want to awaken my husband so I do not switch on the light, is indeed able to be felt, many times I stub my toe or knock my knee on the foot of the bed. How many times do we stub or knock the light of the Holy Spirit by failing to shine our light. I remember a lovely chorus I learned as a child ''Darkness, darkness, flee away - this is what the sunbeams say when they shine as bright as day bringing light and gladness, I would be a merry sunbeam shining, shining all the day, clouds and darkness I would scatter with my brightest ray''

  • David Chipchase | Friday, 17 February 2017

    LYNDA, that blog you were asking Rachael about; try "Jesus Saviour 4 U n Me" Or "Jesussaviour4unm ".

  • David Chipchase | Friday, 17 February 2017

    Sorry typo in my previous comment; use Jesussaviour4unme

  • Roger Hall | Friday, 17 February 2017

    I wish I could recite Psalm 139! And the words of " the hound of God." Which tells me of the pursuit of me! And reminds me of the footsteps of the Lord as he pursues me with all His dogged love. There is nowhere to hide, no use hiding in thick darkness, it is like daylight to Him. Pharaoh had no chance! We are so loved and no deserve. My talk at Church on Sunday is about the love which brought me to Him. Agape. For once it is probably going to be extempore because my heart is full! Praise Him! As I go to the church, I hope to pray that the Lord will prepare the hearts of those present to hear and receive His love!

  • Adam Julians | Friday, 17 February 2017

    Barbara i hear what you say about light having to go to darkness and there is truth in that. But there is also truth in darkness seeking out light. We must seek for the Lord with all our heart soul mind and strength. We must acknowledge the darkness in us, be kind to ourselves just as God is graceful to us and surrender to perfect love. Only then can the darkness become light and we shine our lights. We don't do that by sitting around waiting for the light to turn up.

  • Peter Oliver | Friday, 17 February 2017

    Yes ADAM quite true While GOD does his part we must do our part also. If their is sin in our lives,this will cause darkness. We must confess that sin and get rid of it then GOD can bring HiS light in to our lives.

  • Adam Julians | Friday, 17 February 2017

    Peter yes and if claim we are without sin we are liars and the truth is not in us. So not to beat ourselves up about it or our responsibility to deal with it. It's already been dealt with! But taking the courage to acknowledge it and bring it into the light surrendering to love for the Spirit to do the work of transformation.

  • Roger Hall | Friday, 17 February 2017

    Amazingly, God has another agent to convict us of our sin. Built in as part of our make up! This is part of us that Satan will take to God and accuse us. We have the choice to listen to our conscience, and bring it to God there and then, and lay out whatever it is, before the accuser wipes it from our mind and then we fail to confess it. Just a thought, bless you.

  • Barbara Sabin | Friday, 17 February 2017

    God will have no regard to Satan as He looks down on us and sees us under the blood. When we were saved we were covered in the blood of Jesus, as the Israelites were covered when the put the blood of the lamb over the door lintel and brought safely out of Egypt We are out of the darkness of sin and into the light . Our light can go to darkness .Satan is the accuser and disguises himself as an angel of light, .If we keep a short account we bring our slips before God immediately. When we are saved we become saints who sometimes slip, no longer sinners. John 1 4 -5 He removes the darkness of sin from our lives and we have our path lit so we can see how to walk in the light. We have to be the light in this dark world. Out of my darkness He called me, out of the depth of my night, Out of the shadows of sorrow, into the light of His life.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Saturday, 18 February 2017

    ADAM, on Saturday's comments there is confusion from some over your sentence "It is interesting that God said to leave livestock behind"

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