And Moses entered into the deep darkness where God was. (Exodus 20:21, NLT)
In the few months before this moment, the Israelites had experienced the 10 plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the daily gifts of manna and quail, water pouring from a rock, and a miraculous defeat of the Amalekites. They were camped at the base of Mount Sinai. Moses was getting a workout, climbing the mountain to talk to God, going back down to tell the people what God said, taking what the people said back up the mountain to God, and then back down, etc.
It didn’t take much of this before God decided to speak to the people directly. He became present on the top of Mount Sinai in a thick cloud accompanied by thunder, lightning, earth shaking, and fire.
What was so important that God wanted to thunder it to the people directly? The Ten Commandments, with their four ways to love God and six ways to love people. The Israelites hadn’t been in charge of themselves for many, many generations, and they needed guidance at the most basic of levels, but they were too terrified to hear anything straight from the Lord Himself, so Moses went into the deep darkness where God was to listen to the rest of what God wanted to say.
Deep darkness. Where God already was.
Biblical darkness is usually a metaphor for the sin or death or evil that God’s light illuminates. Over and over, the Bible tells us that God is the light, that God brings light, that what God illuminates itself becomes a light. Later in Exodus, we learn that Moses’ face glowed so much from all the time he spent in God’s presence that he had to wear a veil so as not to freak the people out.
But here, God is in the deep darkness. And Moses joined Him there. God didn’t need to make the darkness light to be present there.
Sometimes we enter times and places of darkness, whether emotional or physical. And we feel like God can’t be there because we feel no light penetrating. But God can be present in the deepest darkness – already waiting for you. He may bring His light, or He may just be with you. But God is there.