INTRODUCTION: Yesterday, I put an image on Facebook with the words: “When you see the powermongers driving this ‘civilisation’ to its destiny, in gleeful celebration of human hubris and in opposition to the Divine will, one can only mutedly mutter one thing in astonishment: ‘Now is their hour and that of the power of darkness’”. What did I mean by that? What is “their hour” and what does it have to do with “the power of darkness”? Well, those last words are based on something which Christ said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders who had come out to arrest Him in the garden of Gethsemane. His exact words were:
“Have you come out with swords and clubs like you would against an outlaw? Day after day when I was with you in the temple courts, you did not arrest me. But this is your hour, and that of the power of darkness!” (Gospel of Luke, chapter 22, verses 52-53)
Those final words of His to them make the hair stand up on the back of my neck. If I had been amongst those doing the arresting (if there was still anything benevolent left in me to be reached by Truth and sanity), those words would have stopped me dead in my tracks. I would want to know what they meant, for they have a ring of terrible authenticity to them which begs to be discovered. Let’s take the two parts separately. First, “this is your hour” and, second, “and that of the power of darkness”.
I. THE “HOUR” ALLOTTED TO THE WORKERS OF DARKNESS
Christ said, “This is your hour…”. In what way was it “the hour” of those who were arresting Christ? Well, I’m sure you’re all familiar with the saying “He had his 15 minutes of fame”. That’s usually said about someone who is attention-seeking and desperately looking for a bit of publicity through performing a public stunt and getting oneself in the limelight when one doesn’t really merit it. Well that’s kind of what Christ was saying about those arresting Him. Finally, after all their plotting, conspiring and dark machinations against Him, it was their hour; their allotted little time to get done what they had to do. They’d been trying to get that power over Him throughout His entire three years of working publicly. But each time they moved in on him, whether to stone Him or attack Him in some other way, He evaporated before them and slipped away. (See, for example, Gospel of Luke, chapter 4, verses 28-30; Gospel of John, chapter 8, verse 59; Gospel of John, chapter 10, verses 31-39).
Truth is, they couldn’t lay a finger on Him until it was permitted for them to do so. This is specifically stated in the Gospel of John, chapter 7, verse 30: “So then they tried to seize Jesus, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come”. This is a wonderful testimony to the sovereignty of God. They could do whatever they liked — plot, scheme, try to stone Him, even try to throw Him off a cliff (as they did try once) — but it would be impossible to carry out unless they had Divine permission to do so. That is the essence of this “hour”. Christ gave testimony to this when He appeared before Pontius Pilate. The Roman said to Christ: “Do you refuse to speak to me? Don’t you know I have the authority to release you, and to crucify you?” Then Christ simply replied, “You would have no authority over me at all, unless it was given to you from above” (Gospel of John, chapter 19, verses 10-11). Wow! More hairs standing up on my neck! That is what this “hour” is all about. So when Christ said to those who came to arrest Him, “This is your hour”, He was in effect saying: “Now you are permitted to do to Me what you want, and not before. Now you have your little moment to do your dastardly work. You only have it because I, in all my Divine power, allow you to do so”. This is why, if I had been among those arresting Him, I would have stopped dead in my tracks at the authority of such words. And if any among them had ear to hear, I’m sure they would have done so.
But take note that precisely the word “hour” (Greek ὥρα, hora) is used. Saying that it was their “hour” is like saying “It’s your moment”. It is not a day, a month, a year, a decade, century or millennium! “This is your hour”. People are given a specific envelope of God-allotted time to strut their stuff, then it ends. This has even been the case throughout this entire age, as evil has — more or less and in different ways at different times — been permitted to happen, in order to fulfil God’s purpose. No one can exercise evil indefinitely. Even if they continue with it throughout their whole lives, the guillotine of death will cut them off and they will then be ripe for judgement. Evil can never prevail under any circumstances. When Christ was being arrested for no good reason in that Garden, followed by all the awful things which happened to Him right up to His crucifixion, on paper it looked as though evil was prevailing. But the reality was that God was using the evil perpetrated by humans (working in tandem with demons) in order to bring about the greater good. For Christ’s breaking through the bounds of death into resurrection and ascension paved the way for humans to follow Him, to be His disciples, and be given new life.
So this was their “hour”, in which they could get their wicked way. But they were only being allowed to do so by God in order to bring about the greater good. This is a template for how we should understand all evil in this cosmos throughout time. It is Divinely-overruled for the greater and higher good.
II. THE POWER OF DARKNESS HAS ITS PERMITTED “HOUR” TOO
What about the second part of Christ’s saying: “This is your hour, and that of the power of darkness!” Not only was it “the hour” of those arresting Christ, in the sense that they had a Divinely-allotted time to commit their worst; but it was also “the hour” for the power of darkness to do its thing. The Greek word (ἐξουσία, exousia) translated as “power” in that verse carries the sense of delegated authority. Imagine that! The delegated authority of darkness. Christ was signalling there something about satanic power — the satanically-delegated forces of darkness which operates in this world as the “spirit of the Antichrist”, opposed to the very person and work of Christ. Christ knew very well that the opposition to Him was being orchestrated by the forces of darkness under the fallen archangel we now call Satan, the prince of darkness. Christ was saying that even Satan’s “power” or “authority” is only able to happen because it is permitted by God. So not only those arresting Christ were doing so under God’s permission but even Satan operates under the permitting hand of God. How important it is to understand this principle! It was indeed “the hour” of the power of darkness, but that hour was divinely-granted. It was as if He was saying to Satan: “You would have no authority over me at all, unless it was given to you from above”.
In order to understand this power of darkness and the way that it is ultimately used for the higher good, one has to understand what the Bible calls “the mystery of lawlessness”. The “mystery of lawlessness” is any influence or movement which propagates the Lie concerning the deification of man and the possibility of eternal life outside of Christ, who is divinity made flesh. This mystery of lawlessness is what has been at work in the life of humans from the beginning of time — from the moment that Satan questioned Divine wisdom and dishonestly told those first humans that they could themselves achieve divinity, thereby generating all the evil and madness of this world. It is a “mystery” because it mistakenly looks to the casual observer as if it is an autonomous force of darkness in history which is doing its own thing — a hideous anomaly which seems to have no rational basis. But Christ reveals that the power of darkness is used by God, who is the Great Orderer and Controller of everything, in order to fulfil His ultimate purposes. “Now is the hour of the power of darkness”. But it would have no power at all if it had not been given to it from God.
So in the words in our text, “This is your hour, and that of the power of darkness”, Christ is really saying to all the workers of darkness, whether human or demonic, “No matter what you do to try and achieve your evil ends, you are merely fulfilling My will, for I will transform your worst acts so that they benefit the highest good — the very opposite of what you are attempting to achieve — and there is nothing whatsoever that you can do about it!”
CONCLUSION: We can also apply that principle to the people today — in particular, to the power-elite and other powermongers — who are driving this “civilisation” to its cataclysmic destiny, in gleeful celebration of human hubris and in opposition to the Divine will. To them, Christ is saying: “Now is your hour, and that of the power of darkness; but you would have no authority at all to commit your wickedness unless it was permitted to you by God in order to fulfil His ultimate purposes in Christ”. It is “their hour” now, but one day, Truth and God in Christ will prevail and all that has gone before, including the evil, will be seen to have been preparatory to the folding-up of this present creation and the formation of a new one, wherein no evil can exist, when Christ returns at the end of this age.
There is much value in understanding these principles. For it shows that, whatever happens, God is in control, ensuring that ultimately “all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose”. It shows that there is a hidden reality to the one that we can see with our eyes — one which should give us much joy as we wage spiritual warfare in the battle-torn trenches of this cosmos. For all the puffed-up people who scoff at Christ (and at His disciples, among whom I am amazed to count myself) are unwitting servants of God. No matter what they do — they can huff and puff and do everything they can to blow God’s house down — it will always ultimately serve the purposes of God. They serve Him unwittingly yet completely. What satisfaction it brings to know this!
This is why it is so important not to sit on any fence but to confess one’s former foolishness and devote oneself to discipleship in Christ — and then “light the blue-touch paper and stand back” waiting for the extraordinary life He will give to you! It will not be easy, and it could sometimes get crazy; but it will always be blessed and full of dynamism. 💖
© Alan Morrison, 2019 [although copyright, please feel free to share, without changing or taking away any of the content]