A Meditation: Light At Evening Time

“But it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light” (Zech. 14:7b). Zechariah prophesied in the days when Israel’s deliverance from the Babylonian Captivity was near at hand. Israel had not hearkened to former prophets through whom the Lord had cried unto them, when Jerusalem was still inhabited and prosperous. In captivity Israel had to go, in order that the remnant might be saved. It took a seventy-year period of threshing to separate the nation from the ever-recurring idol worship. Always busting in the external badges of the covenant, Israel had refused to listen to all those prophets of doom till they found themselves without the Temple and all the outward signs of God’s grace and had been thrown upon their own resources in the midst of their enemies that mocked and despised them.

God’s purpose with respect to the national boundaries of Israel had always symbolized a spiritual separation. But the kingdom within the hearts was never realized without judgment and sacrifice.

I wonder how much the prophet understood of all the activities portrayed in those visions that spelled the preparation of Israel’s release from foreign domination. That was a terrific upheaval when Israel was to be pulled out of that foreign culture, root and all. But alas, the roots of most of the people that boasted in their pedigrees were too deeply imbedded in the hardpan of pagan soil, ever to be transplanted in the land that was theirs for Abraham’s and David’s sake.

All this is written for our learning and admonition. and well may we consider, as our Jerusalem is now prosperous but surrounded by pagans that are more than eager to bring us into captivity and total slavery.

But Jet us hasten to our text. I would like to call the readers’ attention to those two last chapters of Zechariah in which there is so much heavenly music. Clothed in much symbolism, to me they portray the restoration of the temporal Jerusalem but also the first and second coming of Christ. The reason, the purpose of all God’s gracious dealings comes out in chapter 13 which declares that there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness. Yes, the captivity would outwardly cleanse from idol worship. nothing but the blood of Jesus could cleanse from sin within and prepare a people that could be called the true children of Abraham. Though we see a gleam of ultimate victory and glory throughout these visions, it must have perplexed the elated prophet when that shepherd, who was to gather the scattered sheep, had to be slain, and the sheep again scattered. But we can glory in that blessed cross, where the fountain was opened for our cleansing. Do we realize that even the least in the kingdom of heaven has more light than this greatly privileged prophet and even John the Baptizer whose honor it was to be the herald of the King? Oh, what a responsibility!

In chapter 14 we find that beautiful light at eventide. When Zechariah penned this they had very little artificial light. Could it be a prediction of our brightly lit-up cities? In our circles we know better. Neither do we call those inventions miracles as someone recently did. Neither can I see how one could apply the whole 14th chapter in all its details to the crucifixion of Christ, as I heard a minister once do. With all the symbolism interwoven in those two last chapters, there seems to me to be also a rather plain chronological order. There in chapter 14 the day of the Lord has come, and the spoil shall be divided, etc. Then in verse 6 we read : “And it shall come to pass in that day,” and in verse 7: “But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.” There eternity is ushered in. The sun shall not be too bright on our eyes, and moons shall wax and wane no more. No artificial light when the whole city shall be temple, as K. Schilder puts it. To me it looks like a strange exegetical jump to call this light as such the late afternoon of a Christian’s life. For if we picture the whole life of a Christian as one day, as we often do, then the light of that coming day is ours as yet only by faith and by anticipation but not yet in full reality. Through children of light, the light of natural life is still to be darkened as we enter the Jordan that still separates. That light belongs to the order of things where God will be all in all. But notwithstanding all the above we can also, as is often done, speak of the light that the Christian has as he stands between the light that shines from Calvary’s brow and the beams that penetrate our inmost being from the new Jerusalem. What a marvelous situation is ours at eventide! The heavy burdens of midday life have passed, and now we have time to meditate and contemplate. O the marvel of God’s grace, our feeble hand would often slip, but hitherto he has helped us, and his faithfulness should be the theme of our song. Bunyan’s pilgrim made progress, and if and when we falter when we notice that the light of our natural life begins to flicker, what we must do is to cling closer to our Savior’s side. Our strength shall be as our days if we only believe. God, by his grace, will finally relieve us of that earthly-mindedness left in us as long as we can get around.

Did I hear one say: optimistic, theoretical, idealistic? A searching question would seem to be, Why is my faith so feeble when I am alone or in discouraging circumstances? I find many bed-ridden saints very cheerful as they look much to the hills from which they know their help is coming. But it’s commonly reported that we have several oldsters, sitting tightly on $100,000 or $200,000, and giving the crumbs for God’s Kingdom. What did James say about such? We also have those who claim to have only one talent and therefore bury it in the ground. But the issues from death belong to the God of our salvation.