While he was preaching Sunday about the Red Sea crossing, Justin said, sort of off hand, “and, of course, all of this is happening in the dark.” He didn’t dwell on it at all, just kept moving through the story, but hearing it, I almost fell out of my seat. I have never, ever pictured the Israelites crossing through the parted waters in the middle of the night. But there it is, clear as day (ha), in the text:
"And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night." (Ex 14:20)
This drastically changes the way I understand this story. Suddenly, I feel the Israelites’ fear. I don’t roll my eyes at their doubt. I realize that, even post-plagues, the Israelites are living in darkness. And scary things happen in the dark.
But God speaks in the darkness, too. I imagine all of those people, maybe a million and a half, walking in line, wading out into a sea that isn’t a sea any longer, pressed between two walls of dark, teeming water, chased by an army—and they can’t exactly see any of it. But then there’s this cloud, this strange, glowing, electric cloud. And in it, they’ve been told, is God. I think faith grew in the darkness and bloomed in the light. Verse 24 starts with the words “And in the morning.” In the morning, God drowns the Egyptians, full sunlight blazing in the sky, making it impossible for His people to miss the culmination of their rescue.
Jesus rises from the grave in the morning, too.
If darkness never came, we wouldn’t need light.
Ben Rector sings the words, “You don’t need Jesus until you’re here.” Like Kathleen Norris writes, there is a “dark by which we see.” And in the words of the apostle John, “The light shines in the darkness.”