Darkness – the Fifth Plague

“Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. His subjects ground their teeth in anguish, and they cursed the God of heaven for their pains and sores. But they did not repent of their evil deeds and turn to God.”

Revelation‬ ‭16:10-11‬ ‭NLT

With the fifth plague, the contents of the bowl in John’s vision are poured out on the beast. The emphasis shifts away from earth’s inhabitants to the source of their misery, the beast himself. Impacting his very throne. With this plague of darkness, the people on earth get a glimpse of what life might be like in hell. A total blackout. No light at all, either physically or spiritually. We read in our verses today that the beast’s “subjects ground their teeth in anguish”. The King James version is even more graphic – it says “…. and they gnawed their tongues for pain”. This is surely what will happen with people in hell. Jesus said in Matthew 25:30, describing what will happen there, “Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth“. Perhaps God, even while dispensing judgement on the wickedness prevailing on earth, was still giving every opportunity for people to repent. Dangling them over hell itself must surely bring about a change of hearts and minds.

But, sadly, it was not to be. We read in today’s verses, ” … they cursed the God of heaven for their pains and sores. But they did not repent of their evil deeds and turn to God”. Anger, defiance and curses are the dominant emotions, not a grateful acceptance of God’s patience and mercy. Why? Well, we read in 2 Corinthians 4:4, “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God“.

We pilgrims can only be eternally grateful, that in our lives a glimmer of God’s light penetrated our blinded minds. And who knows? Through our willingness to share the Gospel with those around us – our families, friends, communities – they too might just come to see the light of God. Through our faithful and persistent prayers, God will push back the darkness and expose those we pray for with His wonderful light. Perhaps the faithful prayers of someone we know, or knew, were instrumental in bringing us out of the devil’s darkness. I can remember some faithful men and women who ran a Mission Sunday School, which I attended in my primary years. Their faithfulness in prayer, for all I know, enabled the light of the Gospel to penetrate my life of darkness. 

So we share the Gospel and pray. Share the Gospel and pray. Never giving up. Always looking out for an opportunity to illuminate a dark and troubled soul as we trudge our ways through this life, heading towards our ultimate home with God Himself.

Dear Father God. Thank You for Your persistent grace, mercy and loving kindness. Without You where would we be, but in a dark and hopeless place. We are so grateful. Amen.

The Light of God

“I pray that the light of God will illuminate the eyes of your imagination, flooding you with light, until you experience the full revelation of the hope of His calling —that is, the wealth of God’s glorious inheritances that He finds in us, His holy ones!”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:18‬ ‭TPT‬‬

What is the “light of God”? In 1 John 1:5 we read, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” Jesus described Himself as the “Light of the World” (John 8). God created light (Genesis 1). James said God is the “Father of lights” (James 1). God is associated with light. With light, everything is visible. With our eyes we see and appreciate light. In darkness, our eyes have no use. 

So the next question must be, “How can God’s light impact our imaginations”? We have to refer to a verse later in this Epistle, where Paul said, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” (‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:20‬ – emphasis mine). Our imaginations can have a significant role to play when it comes to leveraging our inheritance. Paul said that we have the power within us through God’s Spirit, making it possible for Him to do extraordinary things through us in His service. The only limitation seems to be our willingness to ask and dream.

I used to be guilty of “day-dreaming” at primary school. And still am to a certain extent. There is something within me that wants to think “outside the box”, exploring possibilities. Imagining scenarios where life is different, where God can make a difference. Paul was not referring to a worldly imagination embedded in fantasies – he was promoting a God-inspired imagination underpinned by God-dreams, flooded with the light of His presence; allowing a revelation of what it means to be a child of God to inspire and motivate us. Through all of this we will realise “the hope of His calling”. Not for me a life of pew-warming, a life of ordinariness. How can I, or anyone else for that matter, be satisfied with that? I want to enter into all that God has for me. And I’m sure that we, as Christians, want to do the same. 

There is a pivotal word in this verse – “until”. This light flooding our imaginations doesn’t bring about an instant result. There is a development process happening. Over time. We take small steps of faith, seeing the light of God grow brighter and brighter in revealing what He is capable of. Bolstering “the hope of His calling”. As we say “Yes Lord”, who knows what might happen as the light of God permeates through us into our communities and families.