Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Given Over to Darkness

"So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days... Yet all the Israelites had light in the places they lived." Exodus 10:22, 23b

Time after time, judgement after judgement, Pharoh's heart remained hard toward the requests of God. Every time he agreed to let the Israelites go he reneged on his promise. He was not a man of his word. So God continued with attempts to get his attention. In this passage it is through utter darkness. The kind of dark you'd experience deep in a cave. Like touring the Florida Caverns and having the tour guide cut the lights. The kind of dark where you can't see your hand in front of your face. Like the utter darkness of hell. That kind of dark.

Yet the Israelites, God's people, had light where they lived. And oddly enough their light did not pierce the darkness that was paralyzingly the Egyptians. Their light was a reflection of God's favor and the darkness, God's wrath. 

This judgement symbolizes the darkness of the hard-hearted souls that refuse to turn from their wicked ways. I think of the destruction brought upon Sodom, a people bent on perversion and depravity who refused to turn from their wicked ways. I reflect on Romans 1:21-25 where Paul warns that those who persist in sin will eventually be given over to it. 

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen."

...given over to sin and depraved minds. Such sin and immorality are places of blinding darkness.

"Spiritual darkness is spiritual bondage. Those who rebel against the light of God's Word are punished with darkness, for they loved it and chose it. Let us dread the consequences of sin; if three days' darkness was so dreadful, what will everlasting darkness be?" (paraphrased from Matthew Henry's Commentary)

Though the ones ensnared may be surrounded by believers, just as the Egyptians were in community with the Israelites, they are seemingly not affected or pierced by the Light within them. They are ignorant to the truth because they are bent on sin. And those bent on sin have their backs to God. They might put up a good front in the presence of believing friends because such sin is often kept secret. The one stuck in sin is not always blatant about it. But no one can serve two masters. Our God is a jealous God and He will not compete. He will bring judgement.

So judgement came in response to Pharoh's hardened heart. "When God made this difference between the Israelites and the Egyptians, who would not have preferred the poorest cottage of an Israelite to the finest palace of an Egyptian? There is still a real difference, though not so discernible a one, between the house of the wicked, which is under a curse, and the habitation of the just, which is blessed.

'The LORD's curse is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the righteous.' 
Proverbs 3:33

We should believe in that difference, and govern ourselves accordingly." (M. Henry)

Father God, on more than one occasion in my lifetime I have seen you turn the proud over to their sin. You desire that our hearts be set on You and things above, not the idols and sin and filth this world has to offer. You will not stand for a divided heart. You will have Your way with or without the one bent on sin. For those who may be on the fence or those hiding in secret sin, I pray they would seek You. In Your strength, I pray they would hasten to turn away from the darkness and turn to a life pleasing to You, before You turn them over to the sinful desires of their heart. May they turn away from the darkness once and for all. Give them a deep desire to follow You. To any who have been turned over, who have realized the error of their ways, though it may seem impossible, show them the way out. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

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