It was now the sixth hour and the darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour.....
Luke 1:1 - 80
YLT - 1 Seeing that many did take in hand to set in order a narration of the matters that have been fully assured among us. 2 As they did deliver to us, who from the beginning became eye-witnesses, and officers of the Word, --
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Although the New Testament does not give us a clear cut answer regarding the three hours of darkness I believe there are symbolic parallels in the Old Testament. The first is found in Genesis 22, the offering of Isaac. In the opening verses of Genesis 22 God calls to Abraham who immediately responds. He is then told to take Isaac “thy son, thine only son…. Whom thou lovest” into the land of Moriah (“chosen by Jehovah”) and offer him on one of the mountains to be later disclosed. (v.1-2). Abraham gets up early, takes two young men, Isaac, wood for the burnt offering then goes to the designated place. (Genesis 22:1-3) Isaac is the only other individual in the Bible aside from our Lord Jesus referred to as an "only begotten son". (Hebrews 11:17) Isaac certainly had no claim to deity but he was the promised “seed” (Genesis 15:4) and also a miracle baby, (Hebrews 11:11-12). In verse 4 Abraham saw the place afar off. Acts 2:23 tells us that Christ’s crucifixion was not an accident, not the result of a crazed mob or retaliation of a scorned religious system. The crucifixion of our Lord was the effectual execution of a predetermined decision, plan and purpose of God. Christ was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 17:8). Our God saw the “place afar off”, the specific place, the hour and very second Messiah would lay down His life. Verse 5 tells us that Abraham instructed his servants to abide where they were then said: “…….I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you”. Abraham didn’t instruct the young men to stay there just to watch the Donkey. They were only permitted to observe from a distance because the business at hand was sacred, personal and private between father and son. Consider also the wilderness tabernacle and specifically the Holy of Holies which contained the Ark of the Covenant. The Holy of Holies was separated from the rest of the tabernacle by a veil and could only be entered once a year by the High Priest. ““And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat. And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not:” (Leviticus 16:2-3) If we consider construction and arrangement of the Ark there were two cherubim, one at each end of the lid with wings spread to overshadow and conceal the mercy seat. The mercy seat is where the blood was applied first for the priest’s sin and then for the people. (Leviticus 16:13-15) The young servants of Genesis 22 could only observe from a distance, while the intimate details remained hidden. Only the designated High Priest could go beyond the veil into the Holy of Holies and apply the blood. What took place on Golgotha during those three hours of darkness was a private transaction between God the Son and the Father. As Abraham prophesied in Genesis 22:8 “…….God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.” 1. God will provide the sacrifice. 2. He is providing the sacrifice to himself. 3. God in human flesh became the sacrifice. Why all the types, shadows and representations? Why the three hours of darkness? I believe it was God’s way of showing the world that His plan of salvation is completely and totally of Him, to Him and through Him. We can look back in amazement and speculative wonder but be convinced in our hearts that salvation is of The Lord. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) “That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:31)
I have to say that I do not think anyone truly knows, but that they can have a theory. I have heard that perhaps in that time period Christ was presenting His offering to God. All creation was distressed by the torment and apparent imminent death of The Lord Of All. Even the animals, plants and rocks knew and responded to the circumstance of that time. The more I ponder this, the more I believe it is probably a very logical conclusion.. some day we will have all the answers to all our questions.
Matthew 27:45, Mark 15:33, and Luke 23:44 all relate that from noon until about three in the afternoon, there was darkness over the whole earth. There is no natural explanation. The wording of Luke 23:45, “Then the sun was darkened...” in some versions seems to suggest it was an eclipse. It is because the Greek word in some manuscripts is “ekleipo” which sounds like “eclipse.” But most manuscripts have “eskotisthe,” which means the sun was obscured, became dark or became deprived of light. Astronomers emphasize that a solar eclipse can only take place at the new moon, and a lunar eclipse can only happen during the night of a full moon. Passover, celebrated on the 14th and 15th of the month, was always at the full moon. As it was daytime, this could not have been an eclipse, which does not last three hours. This was a supernatural darkness. Immediately after that darkness, Matthew and Mark relate that Jesus called out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” meaning “My God, My God, why have Your forsaken Me?” He had to be referring to the three hours of being forsaken by God, and the darkness had to be related to it. The reason for being forsaken by God was that He died and paid the penalty for the sins of the world on the cross. These verses attest to this fact: Isaiah 53:4-6, John 1:29, 3:16, II Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 1:3-4, I Peter 2:24, 3:18, and I John 2:2. Darkness was a symbol to all of this momentous event of human history when Jesus suffered the utmost agony. For Jesus to cry out these words meant He was really abandoned, forsaken and deserted by God. It was as if God hid His face from His Son while He was being judged for the sins of the world and the whole curse of the law. But afterward, God heard His prayer, Psalm 22:24. This verse is cited by many to say Jesus was never forsaken at all. But these words were after His being raised from the dead when He was no longer forsaken. The phenomenon of the darkened sun seems related to extreme judgment. It will happen again. When Jesus comes to the earth as the great Judge at His second coming, it will be preceded by the darkening of the sun, Joel 3:15, Matthew 24:29-30, Mark 13:24, Luke 21:25, Acts 2:20, and Revelation 6:12. It again symbolizes the darkness of judgment, the judgment of God. During those three hours of darkness, God poured out His wrath upon His Son, so all could have life and be free from eternal judgment. And the Bible is clear that all a person has to do to escape this judgment is to believe on the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, to have eternal life, John 3:36, 5:24, 6:47. Then that person will pass from darkness into light, even into the kingdom of the Son of God, Acts 26:18, Colossians 1:13, 14.
Great question, Venkatesan! When the darkness came, Jesus was silent for 3 hours. After 3 hours, the darkness left. Then Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” This was a direct quotation from Psalm 22:1.--"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?" It was during the time of darkness that Jesus had been made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21 "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."). He had been forsaken by the Father! That darkness was a symbol of the judgment that He endured when He was “made a curse” for us (Gal. 3:13 -- "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."). Psalm 22:2 suggests a period of light and a period of darkness, and Psalm 22:3 emphasizes the holiness of God. How could a holy God look with favor on His Son who had become sin? Wiersbe Throned upon the awful tree, Lamb of God, Your grief I see. Darkness veils Your anguished face; None its lines of woe can trace. None can tell what pangs unknown Hold You silent and alone. Silent through those three dread hours, Wrestling with the evil powers, Left alone with human sin, Gloom around You and within, Till the appointed time is nigh, Til the Lamb of God may die. John Ellerton in 1875 wrote the words to this hymn.
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