One of the words God uses in the language of prophecy is ”darkness” – skotos in Greek – which signifies the absence of light and speaks, generally, of the domain of the devil and his demons, and specifically, of the spirit of the world. Context indicates the interpretation that should be placed upon the use of the word.
Darkness first appears in the scripture at the time of creation; the earth was formless and void and “darkness was over the abyss. And the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the water” (Genesis 1:2).
How these events came about we are not told but, looking through the “glass darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12), and taking into account the whole body of scripture, we can draw some conclusions.
Firstly, we know from the portrait of Satan given in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, that he was a creature of great significance in God’s kingdom; the anointed cherub that covers, whom God set in His holy mountain and who walked in the midst of the stones of fire. We know too, that he was consumed with pride, vanity and covetousness and that these things led him to rebel against His Creator, Almighty God. His rebellion was aimed at establishing his own kingdom, which he wanted to be just like the kingdom of God.
Keep in mind that Satan is a spirit and that he was created by God:
“All things through Him came into being, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:3).
Moreover, Isaiah records God as saying that He creates evil:
“I was the One furnishing Light and making darkness; I am the One making peace and creating evil; I am the Lord God, the One doing these things” (Isaiah 45:7).
God goes on to say that He established and formed the earth, not in vain, but to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18); in other words, in creating the earth and its heaven, God had a definite purpose in mind, there is a job to be done; this material world has been formed for a particular reason.
That purpose is not directly stated, but, looking through the glass darkly, and taking into account the whole body of scripture, the reason becomes clear. God has created this material world so that it may be a proving ground, a place of testing for those of mankind -that uniquely free willed creature – who has been called by God to be His; a battlefield for the struggle between Light and darkness.
As Paul said: “Test yourselves, if you are in the Spirit; prove yourselves……..” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
This world, then, is a place where man will show forth what he is; a faithful servant of God after the manner of Jesus Christ, or a follower after the world, the flesh and thus, the devil.
When God created the earth, Satan immediately occupied it, as a place in which he could establish his own kingdom; “I will make myself like to Most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Then God said “Let there be Light”, and separated the Light from the darkness by casting darkness into the abyss, or the bottomless pit, as it is referred to in some translations, there to remain until the judgement (2 Peter 2:4).
Judgement came when Jesus Christ, the True Light, was crucified. Although He didn’t come to judge (John 12:47), but to proclaim the favourable year of the Lord etc. (Isaiah 61:1-2), judgement was the inevitable consequence of His coming; “the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:11) He said, and the bottomless pit was opened (Revelation 9:2) and darkness was released and covered the earth once more (Matthew 27:45). This was their hour and the “authority of darkness” (Luke 22:53). Now, therefore, the process of judgement can commence, and this is the judgement; the True Light has come into the world; do men love the darkness more than the Light (John 3:19)? That is the test. Do they love the world more than God? At last, there can be no excuse; man has seen how he should live and, moreover, with the sending of the Holy Spirit, mankind is given the power to live in a manner worthy of the calling with which he has been called (Ephesians 4:1).
Some prophetic references to “Darkness”.
“You shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flies by day; Nor for the pestilence that walks in darkness” (Psalm 91:5-6).
This is written of “the one who dwells in the shelter of the Most High; who abides in the shadow of the Almighty”. The pestilence of darkness is the presence of demons.
“For the enemy has persecuted my soul; he has smitten my life down to the ground; he has made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead. Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate. I remember the days of old….” (Psalm 143:3-5).
Here the Psalmist cries out to God for help against the demonic affliction and persecution with which he has been dragged down and rendered impotent. But he remembers the days of old when he walked with God. This is an inspiring psalm that cries out to God from the depths; it is a great example of a prayer in time of spiritual oppression.
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” (Isaiah 9:2).
This prophecy foreshadows the coming of the True Light, the Lord Jesus Christ. We see it fulfilled in Matthew 4:14-16. The people walking in darkness were the gentiles to whom the light was given, as prophesied (see Isaiah 42:6; 49:6; 60:3).
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and great darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee” (Isaiah 60:1-2).
This prophecy refers to the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lamb of God. Darkness did cover the earth (Matthew 27:45) and great darkness has come upon the world’s people; but the Lord has arisen on those called to be His.
“But if your eye is evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:23-24).
Jesus warns us of darkness: this scripture is a chilling reminder of the enemy’s subtlety and guile. The light can be false light, imitation light, counterfeit light, leaving one unable to distinguish between truth and error, right and wrong, True Light and false light, i.e. darkness.
“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour” (Matthew 27:45).
This is the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 60:1-2; “for behold darkness shall cover the earth”. And so it did.
“When I was daily with you in the temple, you stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the authority of darkness” (Luke 22:53).
Here Jesus is speaking to the rulers of the Jews when He was arrested in the Garden. The important thing here is that Jesus acknowledges that “darkness;’ has authority. The Greek word exousia, used here, is often translated in this passage as ”power”, but is correctly translated as “authority”. Darkness has authority, from God, to tempt and deceive and mislead and kill and destroy. These things he will accomplish, except amongst those abiding in Christ, which is the only effective defence.
“And this is the judgement, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness more than the light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).
This is still the judgement; do men love the darkness more than the Light? That is the basis upon which everyone in the world will be judged. It is to be a question of fact, rather than profession.
“Then spoke Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the Light of the world: the one following Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
This is both a promise and a command. Clearly if one is following Jesus, he will not be walking in darkness; but it is also saying that if one is walking in darkness, he is not following the Lord Jesus and therefore will not have life.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
This was true in Paul’s day and it is true in ours; the evil realm of darkness is our bitter enemy against whom we must struggle.
“Who has delivered us from the authority of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of His Dear Son” (Colossians 1:13).
Here Paul also records that darkness has authority. When we are yielded to the Lordship of Christ, we are under His authority because He has delivered us from the authority of darkness. But it is up to us to keep ourselves there; God has done the spiritual work, we must bring it forth in our lives.