YHWH, a God of darkness and mystery as well as light and illumination

In western Christian art the living God is often associated with light, but a review of the Old Testament reveals a far more complex picture. For the God of Israel and everything else is associated with both darkness and light by the prophets. Here are a few examples that illustrate what I mean.

God is hidden in darkness

  • “The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” (Exodus 20:21)
  • “You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness.” (Deut 4:11)
  • “These are the commandments the Lord proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly there on the mountain from out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing more. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me.” (Deut 5:22)
  • “Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.” (Psalm 97:2)

God is master of darkness and light

  • “He made darkness his canopy around him — the dark rain clouds of the sky.” (2 Sam 22:12)
  • “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7)
  • “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (Joel 2:31)

Nothing is hidden from God

  • “He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light.” (Job 12:22)
  • “even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (Psalm 139:12)
  • “In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.” (Isaiah 29:18)
  • “He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.” (Daniel 2:22)

And of course it does not end with the Old Testament but continues into the life of Jesus, the image of the invisible God. For when he died, “from noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.” (Matt 27:45)

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