Sounds like: kho-SHEK
As a child of the ‘80s I was highly impacted by Star Wars. I particularly loved Han Solo, a character who stood on the edge of darkness, but came to the light. Star Wars was the quintessential battle between good and evil, light and dark. And although both sides used lightsabers, the Jedi’s used them to illuminate and expose evil, and Darth Vader of the Empire (or Dark Side) used one to try to destroy the hope of the Rebels. Star Wars was an epic tale of biblical proportions and thematically it borrowed heavily from the ancient texts. But it’s not the only story to cash in on this Biblical theme. It could be argued that all great epic tales have a good-light/evil-darkness motif.
Darkness, khoshek, is the twelfth word (Hebrew text) found in the Bible:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness [w-khoshek] was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness [ha-khoshek]. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
It is interesting that darkness came before light. When God created the earth it was formless, void and dark. The next step was for God to put life into order. To accomplish that He created light, to counter-balance the darkness.
We need both day and night, light and dark, for the planet to function in God’s design. So darkness itself was not evil, but metaphorically it painted a picture as the dwelling place of evil. Evil lurked in the shadows. Evil disguised his face, waited in darkness, and festered away from the light.
“Others have been with those who rebel against the light; they do not want to know its ways nor abide in its paths.
The murderer arises at dawn; he kills the poor and the needy, and at night he is as a thief. The eye of the adulterer waits for the twilight, saying, ‘No eye will see me,’ and he disguises his face.
In the dark [ba-khoshek] they dig into houses, they shut themselves up by day; they do not know the light. For the morning is the same to him as thick darkness the shadow of death, for he is familiar with the terrors of thick darkness the shadow of death.
Those who rebelled against the light were building a wall of darkness, death and gloom between humanity and God. Justice and righteousness seemed distant, and everything was in disorder:
Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, but behold, darkness [khoshek], for brightness, but we walk in gloom.
We grope along the wall like blind men, we grope like those who have no eyes. We stumble at midday as in the twilight, among those who are vigorous we are like dead men.
This feeling of doom and gloom permeated the Biblical text. For many, the battle to escape the dark was a losing battle.
Darkness and Mental Affliction
There was chaotic power in darkness; it had an ability to mentally influence people. Understanding its affect, God used darkness as one of the plagues of Egypt.
Then YHWH said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness [khoshek] over the land of Egypt, even a darkness [khoshek] which may be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick (gloomy) darkness [khoshek a’pelah] in all the land of Egypt for three days. They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings.
This was the ninth of ten plagues and it had an impact on Pharaoh. After three days of darkness, (so gloomy that you could physically feel it), Pharaoh was ready to let them go. He agreed that the Hebrew people could leave Egypt; they only had to leave their animals behind. But this was not the bargain the Hebrew people were looking for. The animals had to go with them for their physical and spiritual (sacrificial) survival. Moses turned down Pharaoh’s offer.
Pharaoh’s heart was hardened again and he dismissed Moses with the threat of death if he was ever to come into his presence again. But God took that threat of death and flipped it onto the Egyptians. Death to the first born would be the final plague, leading to the freedom of the Hebrew people.
And so finally God’s covenant people were free to walk in the Light. However, once we walk in the light, there’s no guarantee that we we’ll stay there. Often we slip back into the dark. Certainly the Hebrew people, over and over, slipped into spiritual and mental darkness.
Like the plague, sometimes the darkness is so heavy upon us that we can physically feel it. So many of us suffer from depression, anxiety, phobias, and many other forms of mental darkness.
Even the most devoted people of God, in the Bible, could slip into the dark. Job, who was tormented by the Evil One, was so overshadowed with darkness that he wished he was dead:
“Why then have You brought me out of the womb? Would that I had died and no eye had seen me! ‘I should have been as though I had not been, carried from womb to tomb.’
Would He not let my few days alone? Withdraw from me that I may have a little cheer before I go—and I shall not return— to the land of darkness and deep shadow [khoshek w-tsal’mawet], the land of utter gloom as darkness itself, of deep shadow without order, and which shines as the darkness.”
Fortunately Job found his way out of darkness, but many humans have meandered through darkness all of their lives and never made their way out of it. But YHWH can take even the most dreadfully lost and lead them towards the way of light:
There were those who dwelt in darkness [khoshek] and in the shadow of death, prisoners in misery and chains, because they had rebelled against the words of God and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
Therefore He humbled their heart with labour; they stumbled and there was none to help. Then they cried out to YHWH in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness [meh-khoshek] and the shadow of death and broke their bands apart.
Let them give thanks to YHWH for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men!
David admitted to suffering in this darkness, but he called on YHWH to be the light to guide him out of his suffering:
2 Samuel 22:29-32 (See also Psalm 18:28-31)
“For You are my lamp, O YHWH; and YHWH illumines my darkness [khash’ki]. For by You I can run upon a troop; by my God I can leap over a wall.
As for God, His way is blameless; the word of YHWH is tested; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. For who is God, besides YHWH? And who is a rock, besides our God?”
The prophet Micah also said, “Though I have fallen, I will rise; though I sit in darkness [ba-khoshek], YHWH will be a light to me.” (Micah 7:8)
Although we’ve all been afflicted by spiritual darkness in varying degrees, the truth is, living under the heaviness of the deep dark is no way to live. Isaiah encouraged people to stop blaming others and using words to spread evil, as a way to help lift the darkness. If they, instead, helped the hungry and attended to the afflicted, their deep gloom might begin to roll away and YHWH would guide and strengthen them:
“Then you will call, and YHWH will answer; you will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you remove the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness [ba-khoshek] and your gloom will become like midday.
And YHWH will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”
Spiritual darkness was often described in terms of blindness… being unable or unwilling to truly see God, and all His intentions. Isaiah consistently spoke in terms of darkness, blindness, light and sight:
On that day the deaf will hear words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness [u-meh-ophel u-meh-khoshek] the eyes of the blind will see.
Isaiah was referring to a kind of spiritual blindness which would one day (the Day of YHWH) be lifted. The darkness would dissipate and all would see the glory of YHWH. It would be through the seed of the Hebrew people that an Anointed One (Messiah) would come and dispel darkness. He would be a light to the nations:
“I am YHWH, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, and I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness [khoshek] from the prison.
I am YHWH, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images. Behold, the former things have come to pass, now I declare new things; before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.”
Yeshua,the Light that shone through the darkness
The disciple John made it very clear that Yeshua (Jesus) was the Light to overcome darkness:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
Yeshua (Jesus), who loved to speak in riddles and parables, spoke of light and darkness often, but many people did not comprehend his meaning:
Jesus: “And this is the verdict: the light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever practices the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen clearly that what he has done has been accomplished in God.”
Near the end of His ministry Yeshua was more direct:
John 12:35-36, 44-46
So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light…”
…And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.”
Yeshua was the Light that overcame the darkness, so it should come to no surprise that during the hours proceeding his death a great darkness fell over the land. While the Light was being extinguished, shadows grew:
When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, “Behold, He is calling for Elijah.” Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
The centurion was not blind to what was going on. He walked out of spiritual blindness, and was able to truly see that this was the Son of God.
After Yeshua’s death, his body was placed in a dark tomb. The theme of darkness and light continued when Mary Magdalen came to the grave:
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”
Mary Magdalene came before the dawn, while the sky was still dark, to see Yeshua’s body, but it was no longer there. She ran to tell the disciples and they came to see, and discover for themselves, that the body of Yeshua was gone.
But after they went back to their homes Mary stayed, and was overcome with tears at the loss of her friend. It may still have been dark when she saw the two angels and a man at the tomb. The man asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping” (John 20:15). Perhaps it was the darkness, but she was blind to who was speaking to her. At first glance she surmised that he was the gardener. After a brief conversation, Yeshua said to her:
“Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni” (which means Teacher.) Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.
Only after hearing him speak her name, “Mary”, did the darkness lift, her eyes were clear and she recognized her friend and rabbi… she saw the Lord! When Yeshua spoke, the darkness was lifted! This was her friend, but she also recognized that this was the Messiah. Yeshua (Jesus) was the glory of YHWH who would rise and save the nations.
“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of YHWH has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but YHWH will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you.
Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes round about and see; they all gather together, they come to you.
Yeshua was the poster child for God’s light. His face was the true reflection of God and through Him we can understand the glory of YHWH. Paul put it this way:
2 Corinthians 4:6
For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of the Messiah.
Walking in the Light
Whatever you face today, God wants you to shine, and walk in the light. The agonizing death of Jesus on the cross, and His resurrection, means that we are free to walk alongside YHWH in the light. We are bound to darkness no longer!
1 John 1:5-7
This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
We may constantly feel the darkness around us, but YHWH is always with us, in whatever state of darkness we are in. And to YHWH darkness is nothing; to Him night is as bright as day. We need to trust in the Light of God, for His love surrounds us and if we love Him, He will not let us escape His presence.
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness [khoshek] will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.”
Next week: Moon