Riddle me this: “It cannot be seen, cannot be felt, cannot be heard, cannot be smelt. It lies behind stars and under hills, and empty holes it fills. It comes out first and follows after, ends life, kills laughter. What is it? Click/tap here for the Answer.
This riddle can be found in Riddles in The Dark, the fifth chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. This chapter is perhaps the most significant in The Lord of the Rings for it introduces Gollum, a scrawny malicious creature (originally Smeagol, a Stoor hobbit) whose twisted mind and body are a result of the corrupting influence of the “One Ring.”
The riddle is part of a challenge that takes place between Bilbo Baggins, another hobbit, and Gollum. Bilbo takes a fall and ends up in a cave where he meets this pitiful looking being. Unsure whether to eat Bilbo or not and to give himself time to think about it, Gollum challenges Bilbo to a riddle game. If Bilbo wins the challenge he will be shown the way out. If he loses, he’ll be dinner! So, off they go riddling each other. If you are familiar with the story you know what happens next. If not, you will just have to read the book or watch the movie.
Of all the 10 riddles uttered in that scene, the one above inspired me to write this (part 2) devotion. It reminds me of the true power of darkness. “It cannot be seen, cannot be felt, cannot be heard, cannot be smelt.” This is true for those who live without Christ. They are completely oblivious to the darkness (sin) that surrounds them. They are unaware of its presence and its detrimental effect on their mind, body, and soul. If you ever lived in that darkness you know exactly what I mean.
I’m sure that many of you reading this devotion can declare along with me, “I once was blind, but now I see.” Hence, we ought not to be angry at or judge those who live in sin. It’s actually more of a reason for us to love them and keep our light shining so they can be shown the way to the One true beacon of hope and salvation, namely Jesus.
“It lies behind stars and under hills, and empty holes it fills.” Sin would be utterly detestable if it presented itself as what it truly is; a crippling chain that enslaves, a filthy stench that isolates, a dreadful disease that infects the soul. That is why it hides behind the delusive glamour and promising opportunities (stars and hills) to temporarily fill the emptiness in the heart (empty hole) that only Jesus can fully and eternally fill.
Beware children of God! Not everything that sounds, appears or feels spiritual really is. You need to be rooted in the Holy Word and filled with God’s Holy Spirit in order to discern the deceptions of sin.
“It comes out first and follows after, ends life, kills laughter.” The darkness of sin is ever present. You do not have to look for it. It comes looking for you and follows you wherever you go. It’s on the billboards, tv, radio, phone, and computer. It’s at home, work, school, the gym, and church. It lures you and ensnares you. It turns your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Then it finally destroys you.
Do not underestimate the power of darkness. It is a shapeshifter that can easily appear as pleasurable, harmless, and even godly, but whose goal is to poison the soul. So, what do you do when darkness starts to creep in? Resist! Rebuke! and Re-focus! Call upon the Lord of the Light and seek godly counsel. For in the many counselors there is deliverance! (Proverbs 11:14)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I surrender all my senses to you. I commit to obey your Word so that it may shield me from the deception of sin. And I commit to keeping your light ablaze within me so that darkness can never creep in. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.
Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. -2 Corinthians 2:4 (NLT)
For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them. -Matthew 13:15-16
“But each one is tempted when by his own evil desires he is lured away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.” -James 1:14,15 (BSB)
“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13
“Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.” -Proverbs 11:14 (NASB)
-ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.