The Twilight Day

Chapter 14 of the prophecy of Zechariah presents a grim picture of Jerusalem under siege and penetration by the powerful forces of the king of the north and “all nations”.

Not many days (it may be) prior to this final siege of Jerusalem, the apostate king of the Jews will have been taken red-handed from the battlefield and consigned without disembodiment to the lake of fire, to experience the pangs of his unending destiny of the “second death”.

So the nations referred to at the commencement of chapter 14 of Zechariah are those nations whose armies remain after the destruction of the western powers led by the Roman prince in league with the false prophet (the antichrist), Rev. 19.

There is an important difference which should be borne in mind relative to those two distinct power blocs. It is, that the revived Roman empire (the western confederacy) is favourably disposed towards the Jews; but the king of the north and his associates are not only opposed to the western alignment, but are also hostile to Israel itself. And yet, despite the hostilities of earth’s nations warring against one another at the time of the end. there will be this overriding factor of their common hatred of, and opposition to God and His Christ.

Perhaps it should be remarked here, also, that the main-stream of Scriptural prophecy, strictly speaking, has to do with the king of the north (the fierce Assyrian) and all the nations which come within the sphere of his influence. The four imperial empires which are introduced in the book of Daniel (and in a lesser way in Zechariah) form a comparatively small part of the great prophetic scheme. Nevertheless, the Roman empire has a special connection with the Jews and Palestine, and its representative having signed the death warrant of Messiah at His first advent to earth, will confront Him again, with manifest hatred, at His second coming, when its armies will meet their massacre at Armageddon.

The prophetic statement concerning the Lord’s appearing “in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”. 2 Thess 1. 8, must be distinguished from the earthly judgments of the nations besieging Jerusalem, which will take place after a brief interval, when God will make that city “a cup of trembling (reeling)” to the nations, Zech 12. 2.

In the course of her chequered history, there have been probably some ten different sieges of Jerusalem. That described in Zechariah 14 is the final one, and it will occur at the end of the age. It is a future event which will be fulfilled “in that day” - the day of Jehovah’s vengeance. The expression “in that day” notably punctuates the text in chapters 12 to 14 of Zechariah, appearing no fewer than fifteen times. Among other scriptures, Isaiah 29 provides a prophetic reference to the last siege of Jerusalem (“Ariel”). Sennacherib’s invasion, recounted in Isaiah 36 and 37, foreshadows this traumatic event, he himself being a type of the king of the north, who will come on the scene at the time of the end, heading the north-eastern confederacy of nations.

As has been elaborated upon in a previous paper dealing in particular with the king of the north (the Assyrian), God employs this fierce king and the Gentile nations in league with him, to punish His faithless and rebellious people. the Jews. (He and his armies, however, will in due course receive their own punishment at the hand of God for their wicked works.)

Zechariah reveals that in this future siege of Jerusalem, half of the inhabitants will be taken out of the city into captivity by the marauding armies, and1 the remaining half will be held imprisoned in Jerusalem in a state of terror and despair. Then, just in time, shall come the unexpected arrival of Israel’s King, to release the remnant in the city and destroy their ruthless captors. Thus, the assault on the capital will be shattered by divine intervention at the return of the Lord in glory, when His feet physically will touch the soil of earth again on Olivet’s historic summit. When this in fact occurs, several dramatic effects will be produced. Suddenly an escape route will be opened up by the creation of a new valley formed by the earthquake which will split the Mount of Olives apart. It will be a “very great valley” Scripture tells us. running from the east to the west of the country. The beleaguered Jews in Jerusalem will escape from their imprisonment and flee into this valley, to be confronted by Messiah Himself, their great Deliverer, and they will recognize Him as the One whom they pierced. Great sorrow and loud lamentation will follow, as the impact of their awful crime of a crucified King cuts them to the core. Repentance and restoration will take place, and the sun will shine at the close of the day.

And what a day that will be! - the twilight day, the day that is neither day nor night. The mysterious subdued light will linger on until the evening - and “at eventide it shall be light”. Instead of darkness falling, the sun will shine out; for “the Sun of righteousness (shall) arise with healing in his wings”, Mal. 4. 2. This indeed will be a special day - a day unique in the annals of time, a day in human history marked off on God’s calendar, when this remarkable phenomenon will be witnessed. Under cover of this twilight day, with what a sense of relief will the terror-stricken prisoners of Jerusalem hurry into the safety zone of the great new valley, and for them all will then be well.

The spiritual significance of these physical and geographical phenomena is, to the discerning mind, not far to seek. It will truly be an historic day in Israel’s experience, when the remnant in the land of Palestine emerge from the darkness which has enshrouded the nation for so long a time, and move into the sunlight of Messiah’s presence.

All this, moreover, depicts a memorable spiritual experience through which we Christians too have passed. Following the conviction of sin, repentance towards God, and the exercise of faith in Christ, the sunshine of the Saviour’s face is our enjoyed portion forever! (Note: The second part of Zechariah 14. 5 seems to introduce a new section of the chapter, setting forth other features relating to the coming of the Lord at the end of the age “And Jehovah my God shall come, and all the saints with thee”. The somewhat strange syntax of this sentence may puzzle the reader, for it says not “with him” but “with thee”. It would appear, though, that Zechariah, enraptured with the vision, turns in his excitement to address the Lord in this personal way at the end of his statement. He was evidently deeply affected by the visionary view of the great host of heavenly saints who shall form Christ’s regal retinue on that occasion. This is how Jehovah will come when He returns to earth - not alone, but accompanied by myriads of His holy ones. He will come in warrior and judicial character to crush Israel’s enemies and to deliver the nation from probable extermination. He will come to judge and to reign, and those glorified saints who accompany Him will share with Him the administration of His world-wide kingdom, which is anticipated here in vision by Zechariah, but which will be ushered in historically at the end of the age.)

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