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  • Andy Wiebe

The Darkness at Noon

In the first three gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke, a notable event is recorded. In the last three hours of Jesus physical life on earth, the sun was completely darkened for three hours. It can only be described as a miracle; God communicated with his creation in a very tangible way.

In my research, I had a difficult time finding Scriptural answers to the questions that arise from this event. Other than a prophecy in Amos 8 (which we will look at later), Scripture does not tell us the significance of what took place. We are left to interpret through other passages of Scripture what may be learned from this remarkable event in the crucifixion story.

This event is remarkable for three reasons. First, the darkness began at noon, and the implication is that it began very suddenly. Our minds cannot imagine such immediate darkness, especially when the sun is at the highest point of the day. Secondly, the darkness seems to be local, perhaps only in Israel. The three gospels record it as a 'darkness in the land.' Lastly, the darkness ended when Jesus cried out to his Father, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?"

In 1 John 1:5, we read that "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." To be in the presence of God is to be immersed in light. In John 3, Jesus told Nicodemus that men choose darkness rather than light, because the light, which is Jesus (John 1:9-14), reveals their sin. However, this will become most significant in heaven, where God will be our light forever (Rev. 22:5).

The darkness that occurs at the crucifixion indicates to me that the face of God turned away from Jesus. Jesus was, in fact, forsaken. The evidence is in the words that Jesus spoke. It is true that "sin separates between us and our God" (Isa. 59:2). I believe that in the absence of God, only darkness can exist. It is how Jesus described hell in the New Testament (see Matt. 8:12)

The darkness confirms that Jesus did bear the iniquities of the whole world. It proves that the Father and the Son were separated for three agonizing hours in the spectrum of time. Sin separates us from God, and Jesus, bearing our sins, could not be an exception.

As we look at the text in Amos 8, one major detail needs to be clarified.

Some scholars do not believe that this is a prophecy of the events at the crucifixion. The common thought is that this prophecy has not yet been fulfilled. The following are my thoughts on the text, and how it may fit into the picture.

In the Book of Amos, God has run out of patience with Israel. In the context leading up to chapter 8, Israel has no appetite for the Word of the Lord. Amaziah, the priest, has asked Amos to leave, and not prophesy anymore in the land.

In chapter 8, God calls them out for the way that they deal deceitfully with each other and take advantage of those who are poor. They have lost all compassion for their brothers and are living with no regard for God or their fellow man.

Amos prophesies that the end of Israel has come; their feast will turn to a time of mourning, and their songs of celebration will become cries of distress. As a part of this prophecy, he declares that "[God] will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight." (Amos 8:9). He further prophesies that at this time there will be a famine in the land, but not of bread and water. The famine is regarding the Word of the Lord. They will look for it, but it will not be found.

It may be that this prophecy is referencing the reality that Israel would reject their Messiah. Everything the Jews celebrated and based their worthiness on would be undone. The covenant of the Old Testament would become old, replaced by a new covenant. The Messiah that they were waiting for was rejected, and Jesus became the salvation for the Gentiles. The Jews rejected the Word of the Lord, and He became hidden in plain sight (John 5:39, 40). At the climax of the rejection, they saw "the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight."

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