“Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived” (Exodus 10:23b)
It would seem that with the coming of the Coronavirus that we have entered into the beginning of the ‘birth pains’ (sorrows KJV) foretold by the Lord Jesus. (Matthew 24:8) One thing we do know is that when a pregnant woman goes into labour the contractions start to come intermittently, then regularly until they start to come one upon another increasing in frequency and intensity. When this happens we know that the birth of the baby is imminent. Of course once the baby has been born who remembers the contractions, the baby is here and that becomes the focus.
The Israelites were still in Egypt when the plagues had started to fall. They had all passed through the plagues of blood, frogs, gnats, flies, the plague upon the livestock, the plague of boils, hail and locusts, and now had entered the plague of darkness so thick that one could feel its very presence in the atmosphere nor could they see anything in the pitch darkness. This went on for three days. (Exodus 10:21-23a) Yet we are also told that while the Egyptians were in darkness that the Israelites had lights on in their houses and in their hearts. Their deliverance from Egypt was coming.
As God’s people we have now been in lockdown for several months and things seem to be deteriorating. Many have lost hope and are wondering what is going to happen next. It is a time when the Lord has started to bring down His judgements and plagues upon the earth as foretold by the Lord Jesus, by the Hebrew prophets and in the writings of the apostles.
The ‘birth pains’ have started to come in earnest especially when we see threatened heightened attacks on Israel and the nations in turmoil not knowing the way out and military movements possibly threatening the whole world. Nations are now in crisis and the spiritual darkness has deepened in its intensity over the nations. It is ‘a darkness’ that can be felt by many socially and economically as unemployment soars and the economy of many nations is in free-fall and on the downward spiral to a global depression never seen before in history.
It would seem that the plagues that fell upon Egypt have started to fall on the Egypt of this world. We know from God’s Word that these ‘birth pains’ are coming yet we are now asking the question have they started? As God’s people the light of God’s Word should be shining in and through us in ever-increasing brightness in the midst of the pervading and ever-increasing ‘darkness’ that is spreading its tentacles across every nation.
The Israelites knew their deliverance was coming and we are told on the night when the destroying angel passed through Egypt that the Israelites were in the light and sheltering under the atoning blood of the lamb that had been slain. While the darkness and disaster was outside the light was shining in the houses and in the hearts of God’s people. They were enduring, yet rejoicing, knowing full well that God would honour His Word because the blood of the sacrificial lamb had been splattered on the doorposts of their houses for their deliverance.
In this world as bond-slaves of the Lord Jesus we have been destined for tribulation (1Thessalonians 3:3). In this life we cannot avoid, trials of all kinds, the testing of our faith, oppression, persecution and times of adversity and even seasons of darkness when it seems God has withdrawn the light and comfort of His presence. At such times we need to remember that the blood of the Lord Jesus has settled everything as far as we are concerned. Not only does His atoning blood guarantee our redemption from the Egypt of this world and it’s ‘Pharaoh’ Satan, but that same blood will protect us in the day of God’s wrath (Romans 5:9).
Like the Israelites in Egypt we may be experiencing differing degrees of darkness at this time and for some of us it may be a darkness that can be felt. However, the dawn is coming and the sun of righteousness will rise again with healing in His wings. As the prophet Isaiah writes; “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in His wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.” (Malachi 4:2)
Once the ‘birth pains’ are over we will no longer remember the ‘contractions’ or the times of deepest darkness but rejoice in ‘the birth’ of the Messianic Kingdom on earth with the expectancy of the eternal and perfect state to come. Things may be dark now and getting darker in this present world but it is an opportunity for us who have the oil of the Spirit of God burning brightly in our inner spirit to encourage and strengthen our brethren and to strengthen what remains. (Revelation 3:2)
Because we have set apart Jesus as Lord in our heart and life, when the opportunity arises, we will be empowered by the Spirit, and always ready to make a defence to everyone who asks us, to give an account for the hope that is in us, yet with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15). When the darkness gets greater so will the light of God’s Word become brighter in the hearts and in the homes of His blood redeemed, blood washed, blood protected saints! (1 John 1:7-9) (Ephesians 1:7) (Romans 5:9)
As the Lord commands us through His prophet Isaiah; “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. For behold, darkness covers the earth, and thick darkness is over the peoples; but the LORD will rise upon you, and His glory will appear over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” (Isaiah 60:1-3) In the Messianic Kingdom to come this great eternal truth will be fully realised by those of us in this present darkness, which, like the Israelites in Egypt, have the light of God’s promises burning with ever increasing brightness in our homes and in our hearts!