In our seventh and last article on “Zechariah’s Day of the Lord” (Zech. 14:1-15), we come to the sixth and final main theme in the passage: the change in cosmic light (6-7). Thus Zechariah speaks not only of moving mountains and flowing rivers on earth (our fourth and fifth motifs), but also a transformation regarding light from heaven.
The prophet declares, “And it shall come to pass in that day [i.e., the day of the Lord], that the light shall not be clear, nor dark” (6). The idea of the original Hebrew is that “there will not be light; the glorious ones will diminish.”
Zechariah’s prediction is in accord with the other Old Testament prophets. However, whereas the son of Berechiah (1:1) especially speaks of the ceasing of natural light (the effect), they refer to the darkening of the heavenly sources of light (the cause). Joel mentions two, and then three, heavenly bodies: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come” (2:31); “The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” (3:15). Isaiah even includes constellations of stars: “For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine” (13:10).
In His Olivet discourse, our Lord Jesus Christ clearly identified the fulfilment of these prophecies as coming at His own bodily return: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:29-30).
Zechariah states that only Jehovah knows when that day will come: “But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord” (14:7). Returning to the Mount of Olives, we have Christ’s own application and amplification of this Old Testament prophecy to His own second coming: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matt. 24:36).
Zechariah adds that, after the day of Christ’s return (which is unknown to all creatures), it will be “not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light” (14:7). No longer will there be the cycle of day (and light) and night (and darkness), for there will be light at all times.
The last two chapters of the Bible identify and explain this verse from the last chapter of the book of Zechariah: “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there … And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 21:23-25; 22:5).
Regarding this endless day in the new heavens and the new earth in the eternal state, Rev. Ron Hanko explains that Zechariah 14:7 “has nothing to do with this present world but with that which is to come, for God has promised that day and night, summer and winter, seed time and harvest will not cease while the world lasts [Gen. 8:22]. Only in the new creation will these cease. It will be a new world in which righteousness dwells. Neither the death that winter brings nor night that so often becomes a covering for wickedness will last into the new world” (The Coming of Zion’s Redeemer [Jenison, MI: RFPA, 2014], p. 397—available from the CPRC Bookstore for £24, inc. P&P in the UK).
We close with some brief words of application from our consideration of Zechariah 14:1-15 in these seven issues of the News. First, the right interpretation of the apocalyptic predictions of the Old Testament prophets is not literalism, the hermeneutic of Anabaptism in the sixteenth century and onwards. We hold to scripturalism, Scripture interprets Scripture—the great Reformation hermeneutic.
Second, the nature of the Christian hope is not that of an Old Testament Judaizing. We do not, and must not, look for an earthly kingdom for the Jews with the imposition of Mosaic and Ezekelian ceremonial and civil laws for a literal 1,000 years. Rather, ours is a New Testament, heavenly hope in our Lord Jesus.
Third, the content of our hope is the second coming of Christ (Titus 2:13), who is God the Son as to His Person (Zech. 14:1, 3, 5), with His holy angels and glorified saints (5). Through His holy warfare against the wicked (3, 12-15), He shall rescue His persecuted and beleaguered church (1-2). Out of the awesome earthquake (4-5, 10-11)—accompanied by a heaven quake (Isa. 13:13; 34:4; Rev. 6:12-14)—which He will send, will come the new heavens and the new earth (Rom. 8:17-25; II Pet. 3; Rev. 21-22).
As Jehovah’s elect, redeemed and glorified people, we will enjoy perfect satisfaction through the river of living waters (Zech. 14:8)—the Holy Spirit Himself—which flows from God’s throne through our Lord Jesus Christ, for “the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one” (9). Then we shall have no need for the illumination of sun, moon, stars, candles, bulbs or LEDs, for the crucified and risen Lamb will be our everlasting and blessed light (6-7)!
Rev. Angus Stewart, pastor of Covenant PRC in Ballymena, N. Ireland
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
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Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851