A religious spirit, and a supernatural darkness covered the land. It was a darkness that could not be driven away by a campfire. It was Israel’s midnight hour – the darkest hour it had ever known, and the Jews were ripe for the coming of a Messiah that bring light into their lives once again. While the rest of Israel slept in darkness that night, there was something wonderful that happened on the hillside where those shepherds lay.
The first part of one of the songs we sing at Christmas goes like this:
“It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth, to touch their harps of gold;
‘Peace on the earth, good will to men, from Heaven’s all gracious King.’”
Suddenly the angels appeared with their voices ringing to announce to the world that the Light had come because Jesus had been born in Bethlehem. The darkness of the midnight hour was broken by the glorious light of Heaven. Sin was about to be conquered forever because a baby named Jesus was lying in a manger.
This wasn’t the first time that God had delivered Israel in the midnight hour. God called Moses and anointed him as the Deliverer of Israel and sent him to speak to Pharaoh as God’s voice saying, “Let My People Go”! Six times Moses went before Pharaoh but Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he wouldn’t admit that Israel’s God was the only true God. But God was not giving up – the battle of wills was already won. God just had to bring one more plague upon Egypt to convince Pharaoh that He was greater than Pharaoh was.
"And Moses said, thus saith the LORD, about midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it anymore."
Here again we see the Lord doing a miracle at the midnight hour to bring about Israel’s deliverance. I don’t know why God chooses the midnight hour, but it seems that He often does so. Perhaps it’s the midnight hour because God has to let man sink to the very depths of despair before man will turn back to God. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that God will not share His glory with any man and when man is locked into the hopelessness of the midnight hour, that’s when God knows that no man can say God didn’t bring about a miracle. Whatever the reason, God chose to bring about the final plague upon Egypt at the midnight hour.
Another time when we see something happening in the midnight hour is found in Psalms 119:62, "At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments."
King David knew what it was to be locked in the midnight hour of sin and despair. He knew was it was to feel the pain of sin and the agony of defeat at the hands of the devil. But he also knew how to pray in the midnight hour.
It’s often those prayers, those times when we cry out to God, when we have come to the end of our rope that really touch the heart of God. All of us have prayed at times when we were just going through the motions, but when you really get down to business – when the baby is sick and medicine won’t help; when death is knocking at the door and no one can do a thing to stop it; when all hope of deliverance is gone unless God performs a miracle – that’s when we really pray, and that’s when God really begins to move.
James 5:16, "… The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
Those midnight cries, those wee hours of the morning prayers, when the Holy Spirit is bringing you on your knees before God and you really feel the heaviness of the burden, are the prayers that seem to get the quickest answers.
Paul and Silas had done nothing deserving of the place where they found themselves on this dark night. They were chained to the wall in the depths of a prison under Roman guard just because they had cast the devil out of a young girl.
You won’t always find yourself in the depths of darkness at the midnight hour because of some dark sin in your life. Sometimes it’s just a trap that the devil lays for you and that God allows you to go through for His name’s sake.
I am certain that Paul and Silas wondered why it was happening to them, but they didn’t blame God, get mad and quit the ministry, or curse the guards. They didn’t complain over their cold bread and water, if they even had that. They didn’t murmur because the air-conditioning was just right or the heater wasn’t right, or the lights were too dim. They just started praising God in the darkness and waited for the will of God to be done.
"And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed."
Psalms 22:3, "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel."
When the praises go up, the Holy Spirit comes down
2 Corinthians 3:17, "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
Paul and Silas already had liberty in their hearts, but now they were going to experience the liberty that God gives in a very tangible way.
Another time when we see God working in the midnight hour is found in the Parable of the Ten Virgins found in Matthew chapter 25.
"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."
Midnight - a time when we least expect anything to happen; a time when most of the world is asleep or trying to rest to forget the things of the day that has past, and not to worry yet over the things of tomorrow. It’s the midnight hour, not just 12 o’clock by the clock, but midnight because of the powers of darkness that seem to engulf you, and to engulf the whole world. As our world is ever growing darker and falling deeper into the darkness of sin, I can’t help but believe that we are approaching the midnight hour for mankind.
As Christians we understand that Jesus, the Messiah and Deliverer, has already come. He was born in that manger over 2000 years ago, He died and rose again, and is alive forevermore. Though the world grows darker, we see the light. We can hear the angel choirs singing in the realm of the Spirit and we understand what they mean whey they sing, “Glory to God in the Highest and peace, good will to all men.” We hear the Lord saying, “Come unto me and I will give you rest.” We see the “Star of Bethlehem” as a light in our hearts for Jesus is that star, the Bright and the Morning Star, that has risen in us to give us the light of the gospel.
But I can’t help but weep this Christmas for the rest of the world that is caught in the darkness of sin. They are approaching the midnight hour. Soon we will hear the trumpet sound, and the midnight cry will go forth, and where will they be when it sounds?
It won’t be only those who have never known Jesus who will remain in this world during its darkest hour. There will be church people who will remain who had the religious spirit of the Pharisees and the Sadducees but who really didn’t know Jesus at all. There will be those who once were on fire for God but they have allowed the darkness to kill the fire and destroy the light in their souls, and now they will live in that darkness forever.
There will be those who have ceased to pray, ceased to serve God and ceased to read His Word who will suddenly, and without warning, find that they can no longer pray, serve or read, because Satan will complete the blinding process in their heart and mind. There will be those who were once delivered by the power of God as the light of the gospel shone in them, but now they are locked down again, forever chained to the blackness of sin and despair.
There is a midnight cry coming. We are approaching the midnight hour! Right now there are children all across the land who are being told about a fat, red-suited elf, riding a sleigh pulled by 8 miniature flying reindeer. They are told to go to sleep before midnight so he can pass by their house. They are being told that he will give them what they desire.
But I wonder how many of those same children are being told that the very Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, is also coming soon, in the midnight hour. I wonder if they are being taught that Jesus is riding on the clouds of Glory, or seated upon the Throne of God, or that He is carried about by the Seraphim of Glory?
We are approaching the midnight hour! Who are you looking for – an elf in a sleigh – or Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords? Don’t let the devil lull you to sleep now. The hour is growing late; the midnight hour is approaching; and you want to be found watching and waiting for Jesus’ coming!