It is very easy to drift into a state of cognitive dissonance when we read such intriguing passages of scripture as Exodus 20:21 “And Moses went to the thick darkness where God was…” or Psalm 18:11 “He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters”… or even when we find Solomon saying “The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness”. Yet in this same Bible we are able to find scripture seemingly to the contrary, scriptures like 1 John 1:5 “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all…”, then there is John 8:12 when Jesus Himself spoke…”saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” who can forget the Psalmist in Psalm 119:105 when he declares “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”
To the occasional reader of the bible, the Sunday morning church goer, or even the layperson, this is either some kind of mistake or one of the Bibles many alleged contradictions. How can God be so closely associated with both of these opposing and opposite realities? Well, let’s see if we can shine a little light on all of this darkness.
While there is no darkness in God, he does and can dwell in ‘Darkness.’ Darkness, Dark, or Black is often interpreted to mean something bad, something negative, or disadvantageous things that we encounter as we walk with God, things such as an illness, pain, or lack of, a sudden loss or failure in business and on and on. But there is much more to this ‘Darkness’ that God seems to be so comfortably “dwelling” in.
To understand why and how God who is light, can and does dwell in darkness one must first understand one of the greatest and perhaps an often forgotten but prominent characteristic of darkness, that is concealment. The act of hiding things or preventing it from being known thus concealing it is a direct action associated with darkness.
Being able to locate something hidden in the dark, one would need to be more than an opportunist because finding a purposely hidden item in the dark would take deliberate effort more than that of an accidental or opportunistic seeker, much more than an indifferent seeker who would happen upon the item by chance. This is exactly why God says “I dwell in darkness.”
Please do not misunderstand I am not advocating that God is in darkness with the intent of not being found or discovered, to the contrary. He dwells in darkness to draw unto Himself the hungry, passionate, desperate yet faithful pursuers. It takes work to find a treasure hidden in the dark and only a genuine desire and desperation can sustain the quest to discover such treasures in the dark. Perhaps this is why very few ever truly find God at the intimate level He Himself desires to fellowship with us.
God is never to be stumbled upon, never to be found cheaply and never to be possessed without a heart-level passion and desire to do so. He places Himself in ‘Darkness.’ Stepping into the darkness in pursuit of God means we ourselves are often not in the world’s glare. It is a quest that thrusts us into the quiet, secret place.
Where exactly is this “Darkness” that I am to begin searching for God? God hides in the darkness of your darkest night, deep in the recesses of your heart. Why He doesn’t just show Himself to us is yet another mystery. Perhaps He chooses to do it because He knows that for us to make it in this life, we must walk by faith. But know that in the darkness — when it seems as though your deliverance is furthest away — He Himself is escorting you every step of the way. He Himself personally goes to war against your enemies.
Many people give up in darkness… and in so doing, they disconnect themselves from their help when it’s most critical… and when it is closest. Place your trust in Him. Rely upon him completely. Allow Him to speak to you and to work in and through you.
So where is this darkness where we may seek God, it seems it can be found within the heart. The human heart, in its natural condition, is evil, treacherous and deceitful. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” In other words, the Fall has affected us at the deepest level; our mind, emotions and desires have been tainted by sin —and we are blind to just how pervasive the problem is.
We may not understand our own hearts, but God does, perhaps that is why Solomon who is believed to be the writer of Ecclesiastics said “…He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end Ecclesiastes 3:11. Could our lack of understanding be due to the “Darkness” of our heart?
He “knows the secrets of the heart” Psalm 44:21; see also 1 Corinthians 14:25. Jesus “knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man” John 2:24-25. Jesus pointed out the fallen condition of our hearts in Mark 7:21-23: “From within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man unclean.” Our biggest problem is not external but internal; all of us have a heart problem. The heart of man is a place thick with “Darkness” a place where God chooses to dwell waiting for every man to seek Him so the light can be turned on from within. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart,” Jeremiah 19:13.
“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:6-9