Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why Was It Dark?

Luke 23:44-45 “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” ESV
Why did everything grow dark? What was the significance of this? Was this symbolic of the “darkness” of sin during this event? After all, this is certainly the darkest moment in human history. But does that figurative explanation account for the tangible darkness that is recorded by three of the four gospel writers? While I do not discredit the aforementioned explanation, I believe that there is another, perhaps more meaningful, interpretation found in the Old Testament.
The Tabernacle as described in Exodus 25-30:
The Tabernacle Courtyard contained the bronze basin for ceremonial cleansing, as well as the bronze altar for general sacrifices. The courtyard was not covered by anything. It was entirely lit by sunlight. 
The Holy Place housed the golden table for the bread of the Presence (the bread symbolizing the tribes of Israel), the golden lampstand (the branches symbolizing the tree of life), and the golden altar of incense (where the blood of atonement would be offered). The Holy Place was enclosed by a thick tent-like curtain. However, it did contain the golden lampstand, which dimly lit the the Holy Place. 
The Holy Place and the Most Holy Place were separated by a large veil (reportedly four inches thick!) symbolizing the holiness and separation of God from the people.

The Most Holy Place contained only the golden Ark of the Covenant (which contained the Ten Commandments, the pot of manna, and Aaron’s staff). It was upon this Ark that the Presence of the Lord would come down. The Most Holy Place had no light source. No lamplight or sunlight. The Holy of Holies remained in utter darkness. 
First of all, it is notable that the further into the Tabernacle one goes, the more precious the artifacts are in the rooms. In the outer court, the basin and altar are made of bronze, a somewhat common metal. In the Holy Place, everything is made of gold, a much more precious metal. And in the Most Holy Place, the Ark is made of gold but contained in the golden box are the holiest and most precious objects that Israel possessed. 
The Most Holy Place is where the high priest would enter to sprinkle blood on the Ark to atone, first for his own sin, and secondly for the sin of his people. I believe that it is no coincidence that his atoning sacrifice could happen only in total darkness. 
I believe this is why “there was darkness over the whole land” during Jesus’s crucifixion. The land on which Jesus was crucified had been turned into the Holy of Holies. Atonement was still to be made in total darkness. Jesus being crucified in complete darkness is the antitype of the high priest offering his sacrifice in total darkness.
It is no coincidence that during those three hours, the veil that separated the Most Holy Place was torn in two. The old symbol had been realized; it was no longer needed. It had served its purpose.

“...the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14). The Greek word here for “dwelt” is skēnoō literally means “to fix one’s tabernacle.” So, literally, "the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us." Jesus is the fulfillment of the old covenant tabernacle. 

Jesus, our Great High Priest, on the cross, made the ultimate atoning sacrifice, when He offered Himself. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Jesus had no sin of His own to atone for, so His sacrifice was entirely for the sin of His people. The sacrifices of the Old Testament were only types of Christ’s final sacrifice. The high priest’s intercession for his people is but a type of the substitution of Jesus on behalf of His people. His work on the cross was the fulfillment of all of the Old Testament types. The day of Jesus’s death was the true Day of Atonement! Jesus is our true Great High Priest!

Recommended Reading: Exodus 25-30, Leviticus 16, Luke 22-23, John 1


  1. Never heard this before.
    Love you brother.

  2. Oh what good teaching. I love it. What an amazing story redemption is