The Darkness of God

Dark clouds surround him. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

Psalm 97:2

This undefinable God has dark clouds surrounding his throne as that throne is also full of light. From my search in the Bible I have found this to be true throughout.

This is such a beautiful thought that I am challenging any artist out there to paint this. I am challenging my one son who struggles so much with darkness who is also an artist to attempt this. May the Holy Spirit reveal this undefinable image to you.

But even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. Psalm 139:12.

God is with me in that darkness. We are invited into that darkness also because it is there we find righteousness and justice.

This is what I want from God! I want something to make my world straight again. For the unfair things to be made fair. To stop the injustices I see everyday. To stop the injustices that break my heart.

This is found in the dark clouds of God.

We know from the Exodus story of the Israelites that it was a cloud that led them through the desert. The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. And the Lord did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people. Exodus 13:21-22. Of course that cloud was dark. It had to be visible in the daytime. This was where God’s righteousness and justice was—leading the people out of injustice.

God spoke to Moses out of a “thick cloud.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will come to you in a thick cloud, Moses, so the people themselves can hear me when I speak with you. Then they will always trust you.” Exodus 19:9. For the unfair things to be made fair, of course, that cloud was dark. This is where God’s righteousness and justice were so we could get the 10 Commandments (and other laws).

Another mention of that darkness mixed with the light of fire. You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while flames from the mountain shot into the sky. The mountain was shrouded in black clouds and deep darkness. And the Lord spoke to you from the heart of the fire. You heard the sound of his words but didn’t see his form; there was only a voice. Deuteronomy 4:11-12. See also Deuteronomy 5:22-23. God desires to be near his people so much so that he is willing to mask the fullness of his glory with dark clouds in order to interact directly with his people. To me this seems like a great length to go when God could have simply sent a messenger. God loves mankind enough to come personally, first in the thick darkness and later in the Son. Both delivered righteousness and justice. He is a personal God, not a distant one. He is for you.

In Solomon’s prayer for the new temple he spoke, Then Solomon prayed, “O Lord, you have said that you would live in a thick cloud of darkness. 1 Kings 8:12 and 2 Chronicles 6:1. This cloud was dark, not filled with light. Of course. This is where God’s righteousness and justice were for the people to have access to it.

From my favorite Psalm, Psalm 18:9-11 – He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet. Mounted on a mighty angelic being, he flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dark rain clouds. I’ve always loved this Psalm because of the visual response to my prayers. Now I see it even clearer. Those are dark storm clouds beneath his feet stooping down to come to my rescue. That rescue is righteousness and justice because something is broken in my life. My Psalm 18 prayers are nearly always desperate prayers.

One of the Old Testament prophets, Nahum, declared The Lord is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished. He displays his power in the whirlwind and the storm. The billowing clouds are the dust beneath his feet. Nahum 1:3. Yes, this is God’s righteousness and justice promising to never let the guilty go unpunished. Thank God that God is slow to get angry as he always delivers the justice. Of course, the whirlwind and the storm are dark clouds.

Then finally one day we are promised to meet Jesus in the clouds. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:17. I am now assuming those will be dark clouds because the final judgment is coming.

The darkness is where everything starts. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne. The base upon which everything is built. Psalm 89:14 repeats this truth, Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants.

The foundation of God’s throne is righteousness and justice. This is where everything else is built on. Everything else about God is perfect because the foundation is perfect. So it is very interesting that righteousness and justice make up that foundation—with dark clouds.

The Lord demands accurate scales and balances; he sets the standards for fairness. Proverbs 16:11. God can determine righteousness and then claim righteousness because he sets the standards. He is perfection. This gracious loving God isn’t merely perfect in his actions, he is perfection in the original form.

God is perfect love. Love is not a characteristic of God, God is love (1 John 4:16). God is where love originates. God is not holy, holiness is God. God is where holiness originates. This all comes from the dark clouds which are the foundation of his throne.

Love is the motivation for righteousness and justice. Love cannot be separated from righteousness and justice. They are deeply woven together. Since God is love then it makes even more sense that righteousness and justice are the foundation.

In the depths of my darkness, when I feel abandoned, I have a choice. I can listen to my fears or I can bravely ask, “Who are you?” In my 40+ years of wrestling with God I have found God to be bigger than my “supposed-to’s.” In my smashed heart moments—whether they last for 20 days or 13 years—I have come to love God who is bigger than my “supposed-to’s.” This undefinable God is who makes the unfairness of my life fair again.

Do you long for something deep, something profound, something mysterious and demanding, and something that calls you out of your small story into the big story where the unfairness is made right? Look for this God that is in the dark and in the light. You will find the righteousness and justice you soul wants.  

If you dare. Because love hurts. With vulnerability comes the possibility that you will have your heart smashed. This is a 100 percent possibility. God is always faithful. This is also 100 percent–God always redeems our pain.

This is part 2 of a 6-part series of what I learned from the Bible about God being both light and dark. Join me in seeing God in an amazing new way.  May you also live slightly braver because of it.

(Photo credit by Palash Jain on Unsplash)

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