Exodus 10:22 (HCSB)
22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness throughout the land of Egypt for three days.
The ninth plague, darkness, is packed full of intonations.
- Darkness is reminiscent of Genesis, and the creation story, with God separating light and dark. Darkness represents the chaos before creation, and also carries the suggestion of death. Throughout scripture the darkness is represented as the opposite of God, Jesus, and the light. The symbolism here seems quite clear as to what the Egyptians have fallen into, and what awaits them in the final plague. Interestingly, the Israelites are not affected by the darkness. The land of Goshen remains in the light, again, symbolic of their status as God’s chosen people and beneficiaries of His grace.
- One of, if not the most, powerful gods in Egypt was Amun Ra, or Re, the sun god. Early in the plagues there was the challenge of the magicians mimicking the plagues, likely through some incantations to a pagan god at some points. This plague can be seen as God’s final challenge to the impotent Egyptian gods, and this time their chief god. Again, God flexes His might, power, and control over creation, while the Egyptian god remains silent.
- Pharaoh concedes even more to Moses, allowing all people to go and worship God. But still he refuses to capitulate to all of God’s demands due to the hardening of his heart by God. The exchange with Moses has a finality to it, with Pharaoh and Moses seeming to come to a final understanding that there is no more negotiation. This seems to suggest that the next step, the next plague, will be the final one.
In the end, I think this plague demonstrates just where the road leads to when we stand opposed to God: darkness. Pharaoh ends up separating himself, and his people, from God, suffering thick darkness, and in a spot of tension due to the weakness and vulnerability that he has before God. Yet his heart is so hardened that he simply cannot overcome his own pride to relent to God. Surely, when our hearts rail against God in this way, it is a very dark place indeed.
Lord, thank You for shining light into our world, for showing us the escape from darkness. I pray that I do not harden myself to You or Your ways, and that instead I always seek Your light. Amen.