“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”
Isaiah 60-1-3

We have all experienced dark times in our lives. Darkness covers the earth… Seems an appropriate way to describe the times we live in today. Thick darkness is over the peoples…. We certainly seem surrounded by darkness, death, despair. Even as a Christian, I long for the light, for the sun’s rays to pierce through the clouds and warm my face. Because in the light darkness cannot prevail. It only takes one tiny flame to break the darkness. In Exodus 20:18-21 Moses is tasked by the people of Israel with speaking with God on their behalf. God had appeared on a mountain and the sight was petrifying.

18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” Exodus 20:18-21

Read Verse 21 again. “The people remained at a distance while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.”

God was in the thick darkness. I’ll admit that is the last place I would expect to find God. In the dark, in the thunder, in the scary unknown. I guess I always pictured that God would swoop in and take me out of the darkness, not that He would be there, waiting to meet me when I go through it.

I have heard Moses going to meet with God described as though he were walking toward an erupting volcano. The thunder and lightening were so ferocious that everything shook. Terrifying to behold, let alone walk toward.

The people witnessing this frightening scene pleaded with Moses like a successful execution of good cop/bad cop were playing out. “You talk to us Moses! You’re reasonable! If God talks directly to us we will surely die!”

So Moses approaches the thick darkness where God was.  

Where God was waiting, in the midst of the danger. He was the danger, a fearsome thing to behold. Yet He is good, and He is God and He is gentle. He even warned the people to stay back at a distance so they would be safe. Moses approached with boldness and confidence that he would meet God there.

Herein lies the challenge of the first passage in Isaiah 60. There’s darkness all around. As a Christ-follower, am I willing to arise, walk into the thick darkness that covers the people, and shine so that the glory of God can be revealed? Am I willing to come alongside someone who is hurting, surrounded by pain so thick they cannot see, and stand next to God in that darkness? Am I willing to see that terrifying scene and walk right in trusting that God will be there waiting for me to join him? Waiting for me to bind the wounds of the helpless and care for the sick and weary? Even the ones I don’t understand or like?

“thick darkness covers the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you, and His glory appears over you”

My heart is heavy at the events of the world. It trembles at the thought of heading toward the darkness when others retreat. But in that darkness God waits for us to join Him and shine His light and glory. It may be the last place I’d look for Him, but exactly where a Savior and his people are needed most.

Moses did not stay in the darkness forever. He came back with a purpose and a message from God. He also came back with the confidence that comes only from experiencing God and stepping out in faith to meet him where the need is greatest.