On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost.
I. THE DAWN. Ordinary light seems withdrawn. Things are seen dimly. Discouragement and fear. Ready to say, "Darkness shall cover us." Call for faith. "God is light." "He will bring the blind by a way that they know not, making darkness light before them" (cf. Isaiah 1:10).
II. PROGRESS. Still uncertainty. Neither wholly day nor night. Alternations. Now the sun seems about to break forth, now the gloom returns. Hopes and fears. But on the whole advance. Faith still finds firm footing. Rope brightens. Love never fails. Amidst all the conflicts with science and philosophy, Christianity abides in its power. There is promise of the "perfect day."
III. THE CLOSE. "Evening." After long waiting and many disappointments, When most needed and least expected. Not in the order of nature, but of grace. When the shadows are lengthening and the sun going down, the light shines forth with a sweet and beautiful radiance. Glorious ending to a dark and cloudy day. The history of the Church, and the experience of individual Christians, afford many illustrations. The promise sometimes finds a tender and comforting fulfilment in the last hours of the dying believer. Bunyan tells us of Mr. Fearing, that, at the entrance of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, he was "ready to die for fear." But to him the valley was quiet from troublers. Then Greatheart notes, as something very remarkable, at the departure of this pilgrim, "The water of that river was lower, at this time, than ever I saw it in all my life; so he went over at last not much above wet shod." - F.
It shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear nor dark
1. The equity of it. It is such a day as is very suitable to our condition in the world. We are in a middle place, between heaven and hell, and therefore partake somewhat of both. We have mixed principles — flesh and spirit. As long as sin remaineth in us we cannot be perfectly happy. The flesh needeth to be weakened by divers afflictions. As our principles are mixed, so are all our operations. There is a mixture of good and evil in all our services.
2. Consider the wisdom and justice of God in it. He hath many wise ends to be accomplished by these mixed providences. That a people worn out with long misery may be more pliable to God's purpose. By such mixed providences God will weaken and waste stubborn nature. To work us from earthly things to things heavenly. To put a cloud and veil on His proceedings. To prevent the excesses of either condition, God tempereth and qualifieth the one with the other. To make way for the exercise of our faith. Faith is neither made void by too great a light, nor extinguished by too great a darkness. To win the heart by the various methods of judgments an mercies, and to gain upon us by both means at first. God doth it to bring His people to a Christian union and accord. When religious interest is divided, God keeps the balance equal, and success is sometimes cast on this side, sometimes on that. To prevent contempt and insolency towards those that are fallen under God's displeasure. It is also a ground of patience. Heavy afflictions lack not their comforts to make them tolerable. He measureth out good and evil with a great deal of wisdom and tenderness. To show that our comforts and crosses are in His hand; and He doth variously dispense weal or woe as our condition doth require.Application. What use should we make of all this?
1. Be sure you do not make an ill use of it. This is done when we are not thankful for our mercies, because they are not full and perfect. It is an abuse if we are discouraged in God's service because of this uncertainty. When you have any respite, or breathing time, then is the time and season to put your hand to the work. If there be uncertainties, remember that never a great work is brought to pass without troubles. And change cometh not until our condition proveth a snare for us.
2. The right use we should make of it. By way of caution, take heed of human confidences, and presuming too much on temporal success by means and instruments. For direction — Walk by a sure rule. Get a sure guide. Encourage yourself by the sure promise that you have to build upon. A man wrapped up in the peace of God, and the quiet of a good conscience, and hopes of eternal life, is fortified against all encounters, storms, and difficulties whatsoever.
( T. Manton.)
Homilist.These verses present a suggestive description of human history as a whole, and of each godly life in that history.
I. THE MIXED CHARACTER OF OUR EARTHLY EXISTENCE, "The light shall not be clear, nor dark"; "It shall be one day, not day, nor night." That is, the lot even of a good man is chequered. Every height has its hollow. And each blessing has its accompanying affiiction. But no Christian is ever in absolute darkness. If the rough wind be blowing, God will take care that it be not from the east. Observe —
1. Through the trials of the past God has disciplined us into fitness for present duties. Present trials are the prophecies of future efficiency.
2. Trials are frequently connected with our sins. Evil deeds are evil seeds which produce a harvest of bitterness.
3. Trials lead us to long for heaven, and wean us from the world.
II. THE CHRISTIAN'S SUPPORT UNDER THIS MIXED EXPERIENCE — "It shall be one day which shall be known," etc. This means —
1. Our condition as a whole — not one separate part, but the whole "day" of light and dark — is known unto the Lord.
2. Our lot is ordered for us by Jehovah, just according as the grand total demands it.
III. THE HAPPY TERMINATION OF THIS MIXED STATE OF THINGS — "And it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light." All doubts and clouds shall have been driven away by the Sun of Righteousness. Relief shall come when it is least expected. Light is the synonym for joy, for purity, for knowledge. In heaven all the elements of darkness shall be absent. It shall be light.
(Homilist.)I. The language of the text is descriptive of the PRESENT MINGLED STATE OF AFFAIRS, both in the Church and in the world. Darkness is the effect of our low situation. There is nothing really dark with God — nothing imperfect in the Gospel. The Gospel is to our perception not so distinct as to be perfectly clear; but it is not so dark as to be useless and unintelligible. There are clouds and obscurities resting on the subject arising from our weakness and imperfection of understanding. Illustrate —(1) By the partial distribution of the Gospel among the nations of the earth.(2) The language is also descriptive of the imperfect attainments of real Christians. In the matter of personal experience it is but twilight. You have faith, but not "the full assurance of faith." You have hope, but how few of you hope ever blooming! You have obedience, but it is partial, irregular, imperfect. You have joy, but it is meddled with.(3) The text finds its illustration in the inscrutable dispensations of the providence of God. How vast, how profound a subject!
II. THE SUPERINTENDING CARE OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE DURING THIS CHEQUERED AND MYSTERIOUS STATE OF THINGS. This intimates —
1. God's superintendence of all things.
2. God's foreknowledge of all things.
3. The harmony of Divine providence.
4. The beneficial tendency of the providence of God.
5. The language is a ground of unlimited resignation and contentment; and
6. A motive for unlimited confidence.
III. THE WONDERS AND GLORIES OF THAT AUSPICIOUS DAY IN WHICH THIS SINGULAR STATE OF AFFAIRS SHALL TERMINATE. This promise contains a reserve of consolation for the feeble Christian against the hour of dissolution. And a reserve of consolation for the feeble Christian in seasons of perplexity and difficulty. The promise contains also an assurance of the final glory, the millennial reign of the Son of God.
(Joseph Beaumont, D. D.)
Homilist.The word rendered "clear" is in the margin "precious," and is in the plural. The word here rendered "dark" is in the margin "thickness."
I. A period of UNMITIGATED DISTRESS. This period of unmitigated calamity primarily refers, we have no doubt, to those long centuries of oppression, cruelty, mockery, and scorn, to which the Jewish people have been subjected ever since the destruction of Jerusalem. In the predictions of Joel (Joel 2:31; Joel 3:15) referring to the destruction of the Holy City and breaking up of the Jewish commonwealth, the period is referred to as a period when the sun shall be "turned into darkness," and the "moon into blood." Three remarks are suggested concerning this dark day.
1. Such a day is the hard destiny of some men. Their life is a day of darkness. It is so with some nations. The history of some nations and tribes is little less than a history of crushing oppression, bloody revolutions and untold cruelties and sufferings.
2. Such a day is deserved by most men. All men are sinners and deserve this blackness and darkness forever. The very tendency of sin, in fact, is to quench every light in the firmament of the soul.
II. Here is a period of UNINTERRUPTED JOY.
1. Such a day as this is destined to dawn on every good man. Heaven is a scene of light. No clouds of ignorance or suffering obstruct the rays, nor will the sun ever go down. "The Lord God is the light thereof."
2. Such a day as this is destined to dawn on the world in the future.
(Homilist.)I. THE MIXED CHARACTER OF OUR EARTHLY LIFE. "The light shall not be clear nor dark." The lot even of the good man is chequered. No Christian is ever in absolute and unrelieved darkness. It may be a long twilight with him, but it is never night. Why does God permit so much of darkness in our lot? Set forth some of the reasons why we have so much of difficulty and affliction to contend with.
1. Through the trials of the past God has disciplined us into fitness for the duties of the present. We did not see this at first, but we have discovered it now. Resistance is needed for the development of physical vigour, and difficulty is as much required for the formation of strength in moral character.
2. Our trials are frequently connected with our sins. Illustrate from the history of Jacob.
3. The shades of darkness in our earthly lots lead us to long for heaven. If everything here were as we should wish to have it, we should not desire to go elsewhere; but "God has provided some better thing for us" in the world beyond, and He takes care that we shall not get wedded entirely to the concerns of earth.
II. THE CHRISTIAN'S SOLACE AND SUPPORT. Suggested by the words, "It shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord."
1. Our condition is known to the Lord. The world is governed by a Person, and He under whose eye all things come to pass, is our Father.
2. Our lot is ordered by Jehovah. Our lives are not "by chance." There is an order in them, and a plan running through them. Then things that seem to be working against us must really be working for us.
III. THE HAPPY TERMINATION OF THIS MIXED STATE OF THINGS TO THE CHRISTIAN. Relief shall come, and that at the time when it is least expected. If the day has been lowering, we look for a deeper darkness than ordinary when evening comes: but here, when men usually anticipate that it will be evening, it will be morning. You have seen this illustrated very often in separate passages of your lives. These separate chapters are only miniatures of life as a whole, for, at its evening time there comes to the Christian the dawning light of heaven.
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
1. In the matter of a believer's holiness. Therein there is some light, but it is not clear nor dark. The believer has some true conformity to God, but it is not a perfect conformity. He often wonders at himself, — at the inconsistencies and contradictions that he finds in his own experience. In his poor soul faith struggles to get the better of unbelief — the love of the world comes up to combat the love of God. His heart is inconsistent, his soul unsteady, his way devious, and he cannot be ignorant that his holiness is only of an imperfect character. Whenever God spares a regenerated sinner upon the earth after the time of his regeneration, such a regenerated sinner will have this chequered experience.
2. This mixture may be seen in the believer's knowledge. There is a mixture of clearness and obscurity in the knowledge of God's people which nothing could describe more perfectly than Zechariah has here described it. They have know. ledge, but, in all parts of it, it is limited. Behold a disciplined believer. He is in the furnace. He knows who put him there. He knows that the process will stop when the purpose of it is accomplished. But there are other things he does not know. He attempts to know them, but he cannot find them out. He asks, For what particular sin am I thus afflicted? He knows not why God has Sent that particular affliction on him. Behold a believer examining his own heart. He knows something about it. He very well knows its deceitfulness. But it is a wonder to him how his deceitfulness will work. When shall he ever be sure of a heart that has so often wandered? We ought to remember that the imperfection of our knowledge results from our creature littleness and the imperfection of our present state; and that so far as we have any necessity of knowing in order to be saved, our knowledge may be as clear and definite as our capacities will allow.
3. The comforts of God's people have in them a wonderful mingling of light and gloom. It is not all clear day with them, It is not all night: The alternation of comfort and depression which Christians experience, constitutes a chapter of facts which shows the mingled character of their life, whether we can have knowledge of the reasons for it or not.
4. The condition of life. We fail in few things as Christians more than we fail of fitly noticing the changes we pass through as God is leading us on. However this may be, there are strange minglings of light and darkness in our condition. So fluctuating and uncertain is the condition of life here, that no mortal can be found whose biography has any considerable resemblance to his anticipations; his life has not carried out the plans of his youth. We are knocked about in the world. Our condition is shifting, fluctuating, varying. There is scarcely a believer among us who is not compelled, amid this mingling of light and darkness, to recognise the immediate hand of his God. Amid all this mixture of good and evil, we cannot understand why it is so. How needful is faith! After Zechariah has mentioned the mingled clearness and obscurity of our state, he immediately points us to One who can understand it. "It shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day nor night." Of itself it is of a mixed character. To us it is mixed. We cannot understand it. God can. We can turn over the chequered scene into His hands. It is to Him all one day. He sees no darkness in it. It is all alike light — all "one." He has one intent in all the dispensations that affect us. When it is said, "At evening time it shall be light," we are not to understand that the evening or night shall be turned into day. The rain led character of the believer's experience shall pass. Light shall come at the end. This may find illustration in all the features of the believer's experience.
(T. S. Spencer, D. D.)
1. We need it to correct mistakes of nature.
2. Our deliverance from sin and the development of Christian virtues are processes which involve this mingled experience.
3. Our hold on God by faith and prayer is made more steady. "But it shall be one day known to the Lord." A precious compensation is this assurance that God knows. God is working out a definite plan. The golden thread of His purpose runs through all that to us seems mixed and contradictory. He weaves the warp and woof. Nothing is confused. "It shall be light."
(J. Jackson Wray.)
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