And It Was Night

Even the darkness is not dark to God.

When I was a boy, I didn’t like nighttime because it halted my play, signaled that my friends had to go home, and meant I must go to bed. However, my attitude has changed with age. Now I love the dark hours, when the roar of a busy world stills and the lesser lights God ordained to rule the night appear. The brightness of the starry sky causes me to look with awe and admiration at the handiwork of the Creator. I find a quiet solitude in the darkness that allows me to give the Lord my full attention.

 

God is the one who created the night for our sleep and restoration. But although we need sleep every night and have no control of what happens during those hours, the Lord who keeps us never slumbers or sleeps (Psalm 121:3-4). His work doesn’t cease when we close our eyes and surrender to the night.

In fact, just as our physical eyes cannot perceive what’s happening in the dark, human limitations also prevent us from seeing what the Lord is doing in the spiritual realm. Our Father does, however, reveal what He wants us to know—the Bible uses the word mystery to describe something once hidden that is now brought to light. Consider the following scriptural accounts that show how much God accomplished while most people were asleep.

From Slavery to Freedom The most famous night in Israel’s history is Passover, which is recorded in Exodus 12:1-36. While His people were enslaved in Egypt, God intervened in the darkness of night to bring deliverance. As the Egyptians slept, the Lord moved through the country, killing every firstborn human being and animal in the land. The only exceptions were the Israelites who’d obeyed God by marking their doorways with the blood of a spotless lamb. In one night, the Lord set the entire nation free and brought them out of Egypt to become a people for His own possession.

From Captivity to Restoration In time the children of Israel entered the land God had promised them and became an independent nation. However, they continually strayed from the Lord until they eventually suffered the consequences for their idolatry and were taken into captivity in Babylon. But God hadn’t abandoned them.

In one night, the Lord set the entire nation free and brought them out of Egypt to become a people for His own possession.

One night as the Babylonian king reveled and mocked the Lord, a hand suddenly appeared and wrote a message on the wall (Dan. 5:1-31). Daniel interpreted the words, which said, “God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it … You have been weighed on the scales and found deficient … Your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and the Persians” (vv. 26-28). That very night the Persian troops entered Babylon, killed the king, and took over the city. The Jewish captives didn’t realize that in one night, God had opened the door to restore them to their land. During the first year of his reign, the Persian king set the Jewish people free to return to their homeland once again.

From Waiting to Hope Fulfilled Although the Israelites were now in their land, they were never totally free, because various Gentile empires continued to rule over them. Their great hope was that their Messiah would soon come to liberate them. Once again, while most of the people in Bethlehem were sound asleep, God intervened in the affairs of earth (Luke 2:1-20). In a dark stable, the Messiah entered the world as a tiny, helpless newborn. Of all the nights that have ever been, this one was the most profound. The infant Messiah was the Son of God, who left heaven and took on human flesh to dwell with mankind and become the Savior of the world.

Time passed, and as Jesus grew into manhood, He began teaching and performing miracles as proof that He was the Messiah. However, the Jewish leaders were reluctant to accept Him. One night Nicodemus, a prominent Pharisee and teacher, came to Jesus with his questions (John 3:1-21). There in the darkness, Jesus Christ explained that He’d been sent by His Father so the world could be saved through Him. One could never attain salvation by trying to be good enough, but only through faith in Jesus.

The Jewish leaders’ hostility toward Jesus continued to grow because He didn’t fit their expectations of the Messiah. And Judas, one of Jesus’ own disciples, also became disillusioned and decided to betray Him to the religious leaders (John 13:21-30). During the Passover celebration with His disciples, Jesus told Judas, “What you do, do quickly,” and “he went out immediately; and it was night” (vv. 27, 30). Judas was unaware that God would use his betrayal to begin the process that would put Jesus on the cross and bring about the redemption of mankind.

The one who had never known sin or been separated from the Father was soon to bear the sins of the world.

After Judas left, Jesus and His other disciples walked to the Mount of Olives in the darkness (Matt. 26:36-46). In a garden there, He pleaded with His Father, saying, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (v. 39). The one who had never known sin or been separated from the Father was soon to bear the sins of the world. And although Jesus dreaded the experience, He submitted to the Father because there was no other way to save sinful mankind.

Within a few hours, our Lord was hanging on a cross, suffering excruciating pain, humiliation, and ridicule (Matt. 27:33-51). For three daytime hours, darkness covered the land as Jesus bore the Father’s judgment for the sins of mankind. Then He cried out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). The perfect Lamb of God had paid the penalty for sin so that all who believe in Him could be justified (declared not guilty) and receive eternal life. None of us can fathom what happened in the darkness that day or what Jesus suffered for us so we could be rescued from an eternity in hell, separated from God. All we can do is believe, surrender fully to Christ, and thank Him for our salvation.

The disciples were in despair after Jesus’ death. Why had God let the Messiah die? Now, it seemed, there would be no kingdom and no glory. Jesus had been buried, and all hope was lost. Yet in the darkness of early Sunday morning, a miracle happened (Matt. 28:1-2). As some women came to the tomb, they discovered that it was empty. While the world slept, God had raised His Son to life.

From the Kingdom of This World to the Kingdom of God The glorious kingdom the disciples longed to see will one day come, after the darkest period of tribulation in world history. At that time, “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and … [then everyone] will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:29-30).

Throughout human history, the Lord has accomplished the miraculous under the cover of night. There are bound to be times when we can’t understand what God is doing or feel our lives are engulfed in the darkness of despair, difficulty, or suffering. Yet even then, we have the assurance that just as He has worked to achieve His perfect will throughout history, He’s also working in our darkness to accomplish His good purpose in our lives. When life seems mysterious, all we have to do is remember that to God, “the night is as bright as the day” (Psalm 139:12). He sees, and nothing is beyond His control.

 

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3 He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.

4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep.

1 Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,

2 This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.

3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, `On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers' households, a lamb for each household.

4 Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb.

5 Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.

6 You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.

7 Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.

8 They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails.

10 And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire.

11 Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste--it is the LORD'S Passover.

12 For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments--I am the LORD.

13 The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

14 Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.

15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.

16 On the first day you shall have a holy assembly, and another holy assembly on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, except what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you.

17 You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance.

18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening.

19 Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land.

20 You shall not eat anything leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.'"

21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb.

22 You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning.

23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you.

24 And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever.

25 When you enter the land which the LORD will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite.

26 And when your children say to you, `What does this rite mean to you?'

27 you shall say, `It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.'" And the people bowed low and worshiped.

28 Then the sons of Israel went and did so; just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.

29 Now it came about at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle.

30 Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead.

31 Then he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel; and go, worship the LORD, as you have said.

32 Take both your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and go, and bless me also."

33 The Egyptians urged the people, to send them out of the land in haste, for they said, We will all be dead."

34 So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls bound up in the clothes on their shoulders.

35 Now the sons of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing;

36 and the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

1 Belshazzar the king held a great feast for a thousand of his nobles, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand.

2 When Belshazzar tasted the wine, he gave orders to bring the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them.

3 Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God which was in Jerusalem; and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them.

4 They drank the wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.

5 Suddenly the fingers of a man's hand emerged and began writing opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace, and the king saw the back of the hand that did the writing.

6 Then the king's face grew pale and his thoughts alarmed him, and his hip joints went slack and his knees began knocking together.

7 The king called aloud to bring in the conjurers, the Chaldeans and the diviners. The king spoke and said to the wise men of Babylon, Any man who can read this inscription and explain its interpretation to me shall be clothed with purple and have a necklace of gold around his neck, and have authority as third ruler in the kingdom."

8 Then all the king's wise men came in, but they could not read the inscription or make known its interpretation to the king.

9 Then King Belshazzar was greatly alarmed, his face grew even paler, and his nobles were perplexed.

10 The queen entered the banquet hall because of the words of the king and his nobles; the queen spoke and said, O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts alarm you or your face be pale.

11 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is a spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of your father, illumination, insight and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him. And King Nebuchadnezzar, your father, your father the king, appointed him chief of the magicians, conjurers, Chaldeans and diviners.

12 This was because an extraordinary spirit, knowledge and insight, interpretation of dreams, explanation of enigmas and solving of difficult problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Let Daniel now be summoned and he will declare the interpretation."

13 Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke and said to Daniel, Are you that Daniel who is one of the exiles from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah?

14 Now I have heard about you that a spirit of the gods is in you, and that illumination, insight and extraordinary wisdom have been found in you.

15 Just now the wise men and the conjurers were brought in before me that they might read this inscription and make its interpretation known to me, but they could not declare the interpretation of the message.

16 But I personally have heard about you, that you are able to give interpretations and solve difficult problems. Now if you are able to read the inscription and make its interpretation known to me, you will be clothed with purple and wear a necklace of gold around your neck, and you will have authority as the third ruler in the kingdom."

17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Keep your gifts for yourself or give your rewards to someone else; however, I will read the inscription to the king and make the interpretation known to him.

18 O king, the Most High God granted sovereignty, grandeur, glory and majesty to Nebuchadnezzar your father.

19 Because of the grandeur which He bestowed on him, all the peoples, nations and men of every language feared and trembled before him; whomever he wished he killed and whomever he wished he spared alive; and whomever he wished he elevated and whomever he wished he humbled.

20 But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit became so proud that he behaved arrogantly, he was deposed from his royal throne and his glory was taken away from him.

21 He was also driven away from mankind, and his heart was made like that of beasts, and his dwelling place was with the wild donkeys. He was given grass to eat like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until he recognized that the Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind and that He sets over it whomever He wishes.

22 Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this,

23 but you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them; and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see, hear or understand. But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified.

24 Then the hand was sent from Him and this inscription was written out.

25 Now this is the inscription that was written out: `MENĒ, MENĒ, TEKĒL, UPHARSIN.'

26 This is the interpretation of the message: `MENĒ'--God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it.

27 `TEKĒL'--you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient.

28 `PERĒS'--your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians."

29 Then Belshazzar gave orders, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a necklace of gold around his neck, and issued a proclamation concerning him that he now had authority as the third ruler in the kingdom.

30 That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain.

31 So Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two.

1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.

2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.

4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,

5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.

7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

10 But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;

11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."

16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.

17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.

18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.

20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;

2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."

3 Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

4 Nicodemus said to Him, How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?"

5 Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, `You must be born again.'

8 The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

9 Nicodemus said to Him, How can these things be?"

10 Jesus answered and said to him, Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?

11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony.

12 If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

13 No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.

14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;

15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.

16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

21 But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."

21 When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me."

22 The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking.

23 There was reclining on Jesus' bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.

24 So Simon Peter gestured to him, and said to him, Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking."

25 He, leaning back thus on Jesus' bosom, said to Him, Lord, who is it?"

26 Jesus then answered, That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him." So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.

27 After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, What you do, do quickly."

28 Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him.

29 For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, Buy the things we have need of for the feast"; or else, that he should give something to the poor.

30 So after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night.

36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, Sit here while I go over there and pray."

37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed.

38 Then He said to them, My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me."

39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will."

40 And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour?

41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done."

43 Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy.

44 And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more.

45 Then He came to the disciples and said to them, Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.

46 Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!"

33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull,

34 they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink.

35 And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots.

36 And sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there.

37 And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS."

38 At that time two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left.

39 And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads

40 and saying, You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross."

41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying,

42 He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him.

43 HE TRUSTS IN GOD; LET GOD RESCUE Him now, IF HE DELIGHTS IN HIM; for He said, `I am the Son of God.'"

44 The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words.

45 Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.

46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" that is, MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"

47 And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, This man is calling for Elijah."

48 Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink.

49 But the rest of them said, Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him ."

50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.

51 And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.

30 Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, It is finished!" And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

1 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.

2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.

29 But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.

12 Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.

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