The Final Warning
God promised Abraham:
Then the Lord said to Abram, "Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete." ()
Here, in this passage, God says He will bring judgment on the nation that they serve. When God appeared to Moses at the Mountain of God in the wilderness, He said:
But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. ()
Here again, in this passage, God speaks of stretching out His hand and striking Egypt. Both in His promise to Abraham and in His words to Moses, God makes it clear that He would display His power in mighty acts of judgment and deliverance.
Deliverance was necessary because as God also said to Abraham, Abraham’s offspring was afflicted. Again, when God spoke to Moses at the Mountain, He said:
I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings... ()
The suffering and affliction of the Israelites was extreme, and it continued while God dealt with Pharaoh through the plagues. The affliction of humanity under sin is also extreme, and deliverance is necessary.
The ninth plague God used to deal with Pharaoh was a plague of darkness. This plague was by far the worst plague to strike the Egyptians to that point.
They could not function.
They could not eat.
They could not move.
Without relief from this plague, they were effectively dead.
Exodus 10:22 says:
So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was pitch darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. ()
Exodus 10:21 described the darkness that was to descend on Egypt as a darkness that could be felt, and verse 22 speaks of “pitch darkness.” The darkness was beyond description. The words Moses used are literally “a dark darkness.”
It was so dark that, as Exodus 10:23 tells us, “They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days.”
If there is an eclipse of the sun, the stars show up and a candle or lantern will light the way. If the sun goes behind the horizon, as it does every night, fire is a good source of light. Darkness does not keep us from rising from our place because we have ways of producing light. However, the Egyptians had no light from candle, lamp or other source.
Exodus 10:23 adds a detail when it says, “But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.” (KJV) Moses did not say that the land of Goshen, where the Israelites lived was filled with light. He specifically says they had light in their dwellings. The implication is that there was no light for the Egyptians. Light stopped working. Candles and lamps were of no effect. Contrary to the laws of physics, light somehow stopped working and yet worked for the Israelites.
The Egyptians worshiped the sun god, “Ra.” According to an article on Wikipedia:
The sun is the giver of life, controlling the ripening of crops which were worked by man. Because of the life giving qualities of the sun the Egyptians worshiped the sun as a god. The creator of the universe and the giver of life, the sun or Ra represented life, warmth and growth. Since the people regarded Ra as a principal god, creator of the universe and the source of life, he had a strong influence on them, which led to him being one of the most worshiped of all the Egyptian gods and even considered King of the Gods.
Light is essential for life. Photosynthesis is the process by which light is transformed into energy that can be used by our bodies. Light is basic to our understanding of the physical universe. As a final warning, God turned off light for the Egyptians.
The affliction of the people of Israel could be described as darkness. The heavy burdens of work and the oppressive laws and use of the people were socially and spiritually dark. Not all darkness is physical. Since the time God chose Israel to be His people the devil tried to destroy them. The whole world lies in the power of the evil one, and Egypt was under his power. Egypt lived in spiritual darkness.
God spoke to Pharaoh through Moses. Moses brought spiritual light.
He said, “Thus says the Lord...,” and Pharaoh said, “I do not know the Lord.” Each plague that followed answered for Pharaoh the question of who the Lord is. Each revelation of who God is was light for Pharaoh. However, Pharaoh refused to acknowledge the Lord, and in his refusal, he refused light.
This plague is an illustration. If one refuses the light, he walks in darkness.
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." ()
God, not “Ra,” is the creator of all life. God is the source of light. In the beginning, God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
God makes the point to Pharaoh that He is the source of light and of life. This is a truth that all men everywhere need to understand and grasp. We think that we do not need God. Since the sun comes up every morning, we assume it is the source of light. We observe how the world operates and have formulated laws that express our understanding of what we have observed. We call these laws natural law and we rely on these laws to explain our world. Our assumption is that we have understood how the universe operates. Based on this assumption, we live as if we do not need God.
John 1:4 tells us of Jesus:
The Lord Jesus is the source of light and life. There is no other. He holds the creation together. Without Him, the sun would not give forth its light. Revelation 6:14 tells of a time when, “The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.” (ESV) This is what will happen when Jesus no longer sustains the creation, when He withdraws His hand.
Colossians 1:16-17 tells us:
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. ()
Jesus holds all things together. Modern man does not worship a sun god, but assumes the sun and its operation is all there is to reality. Since we base our faith on what we see, we assume that the natural laws that we have observed are all there is. This basic assumption is wrong. Even we Christians are caught up in this wrong assumption when we live as if God is not there. Many of us live as practical atheists.
John 1:5 says:
According to this, the world is in darkness. God sent His Son into the world and His Son is light. However, the darkness did not comprehend. Many translations of John 1:5 say, “... did not overcome it.” The word used in the original text is “καταλαμβάνω” (KATALAMBANO). Katalambano means to seize or lay hold of. In normal usage, it means to grasp solid objects or to grasp ideas. To grasp an idea is to understand it. We tend to think of the world trying to overcome Jesus, but the idea in John 1:5 is that light has come into the world and the world just does not get it.
God told Moses that He would judge Egypt. With the first eight plagues, God teaches by illustration who He is. With the ninth plague, God teaches by illustration what judgment is. He removes the light. In a number of places, Jesus spoke of judgment as being thrown into outer darkness. He said:
...cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ()
There is great danger in ignoring the light that we have. God gave Pharaoh opportunity after opportunity. He told Pharaoh what would happen, but Pharaoh would not listen. This ninth plague foreshadowed the judgment to come. Jesus warned of ignoring the light that we have when he said:
To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. ()
Jesus said this when asked why He taught in parables. The idea being that if we pay attention to the light that we have, we will be given more, but if we, like the religious Jews of Jesus’ day, ignore the light that we have, even the light that we have will be taken away. This is the severest judgment possible, because the removal of light is the removal of hope and life.
If God had not lifted the plague of darkness, the Egyptians would have died. Physical life is not possible without physical light. This darkness was an ominous and final warning of death to come.
The cross of Jesus should serve as a wake-up call for all men.
There is nothing more dark and horrible than the faultless Son of God dying on the cross. There is no greater picture of the judgment of God. Nor, is there any greater picture of the love and grace of God.
John 3:17-19 says:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 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. ()
Light has come into the world. This may be your final warning. Certainly, it is your only hope. Will you choose the light?