I am reading Oswald Chambers again this year. As many of you know, his work is personally challenging in the extreme.
When I read the lesson for January 3, I found it almost revolting. Somehow the idea of God's word being clouds and darkness seemed wrong.
Yesterday I read Genesis 15. It includes the rather alien (to us in the 21st century) details of God making a physical covenant with Abram. Verse 12 says
Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him.
The footnote in my study bible said that the reaction is a natural response and that God fills us with profound dread and holy awe.
I wonder, if Saul's experience on the road to Damascus doesn't actually explain shed some light on it.
3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. (Acts 9 NKJ)
Chambers references Psalm 97: 2 which reads that "Clouds and darkness are round about Him." If you read it in context you find that
2 Clouds and darkness surround Him;
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.
3 A fire goes before Him,
And burns up His enemies round about.
4 His lightnings light the world;
The earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD,
At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
6 The heavens declare His righteousness,
And all the peoples see His glory.
My feeling of revulsion was because I felt that darkness was being given as a characteristic of my God who is the Lord of Lights who has no shadow of turning.
The darkness doesn't come from God. He doesn't bring us into darkness. We bring our darkness to Him. We are weak and frail vessels not able to see God face to face and when we are blinded by His light we are filled with darkness and shadows as the only response to
Someone who we, in our falleness and sin, are incapable of comprehending in our minds much less seeing with our eyes.
It is not until we are fully perfected and enter to the new heavens and earth that we will be able to see beyond the clouds and darkness to the true and wondrous glory.
In our frailty, to actually come to the point where we see clouds and darkness proves that we are drawing nearer to God because we are moving beyond "flippant and familiar" understanding and are drawing nearer to His Presence.