A Total Blackout
Following Jesus’ crucifixion, right around midday, the land was swallowed up in darkness. Imagine how unsettling that must have been! All of a sudden, people surely felt more vulnerable, more on edge. There may have been some who had been present at the arrest of Jesus and remembered that He had warned, “This is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53). But the majority probably said to one another, I wonder what this darkness is about? I wonder why this is taking place?
In one sense, they should have known the answer to that question. Jesus’ death occurred during the celebration of the Passover in Jerusalem—a celebration that had taken place annually for hundreds of years. During this time, the Jews would recall that the final plague God sent over Egypt before the arrival of the angel of death and the death of the firstborn sons was that of darkness over all the land. They would recall that after the darkness came death: that on that occasion, only those who were protected by the blood of the Passover lamb awakened in the morning to find their firstborn still with them. And now, here, in the greater exodus previewed by that first one, darkness preceded the death of Christ, who was and is the perfect Passover Lamb.
It is as Sin-Bearer—as the perfect, spotless Lamb—that Jesus entered into the presence of the sinless God. What’s more, He carried with Him no substitutionary sacrifice aside from Himself. Prior to this moment in history, to enter the holy place of God’s presence in the temple in Jerusalem, the high priest had to make a sacrifice for his own sin, and then make sacrifice for the sins of those whom he represented. But this High Priest entered the heavenly presence of the holy God carrying nothing. Why? Because He Himself needed no sacrifice, for He was perfect, sinless; and yet He Himself was the sacrifice. Jesus was the Lamb. There was nothing else He could carry, and nothing else He should carry. As Peter explains, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24).
And so the darkness of God’s judgment did not have the last word. Because Jesus became sin, incurring the full fury of God’s wrath, we can be transferred into God’s kingdom, “into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). There is nothing else in all the world that demonstrates how real God’s love is for sinners and how real our sin is to God.
Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in
When Christ the mighty Maker died
For man the creature’s sin.
The Coming Day of Bitter Mourning
1This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, a basket of summer fruit. 2And he said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me,
“The end1 has come upon my people Israel;
I will never again pass by them.
declares the Lord God.
“So many dead bodies!”
“They are thrown everywhere!”
4Hear this, you who trample on the needy
and bring the poor of the land to an end,
5saying, “When will the new moon be over,
that we may sell grain?
And the Sabbath,
that we may offer wheat for sale,
that we may make the ephah small and the shekel4 great
and deal deceitfully with false balances,
6that we may buy the poor for silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals
and sell the chaff of the wheat?”
7The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
“Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.
8Shall not the land tremble on this account,
and everyone mourn who dwells in it,
and all of it rise like the Nile,
and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?”
9“And on that day,” declares the Lord God,
“I will make the sun go down at noon
and darken the earth in broad daylight.
10I will turn your feasts into mourning
and all your songs into lamentation;
I will bring sackcloth on every waist
and baldness on every head;
I will make it like the mourning for an only son
and the end of it like a bitter day.
11“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God,
“when I will send a famine on the land—
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the Lord.
12They shall wander from sea to sea,
and from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord,
but they shall not find it.
13“In that day the lovely virgins and the young men
shall faint for thirst.
14Those who swear by the Guilt of Samaria,
and say, ‘As your god lives, O Dan,’
and, ‘As the Way of Beersheba lives,’
they shall fall, and never rise again.”
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