The two stages of redemption and the distinction between them are explicated clearly in the seforim hakedoshim, and our teacher, the Ramchal, explains them at length. He teaches that the final redemption is a compound of two fundamental stages, called “Pekidah”, and “Zechirah”. He writes (Maamar HaGeulah):
Know, that redemption encompasses two distinct times. We have found them to be present during the redemption from Mitzrayim as well as the redemption from Bavel, and it is known to us that they will similarly be present during the final redemption, may it be speedily and in our days. About these two times, the verse states, “Do not rejoice over me, my enemy – this is the first time, called “Pekidah”. “For even thought I sit in darkness, Hashem is my Light” – this is the second time, called “Zechirah”.
The first stage, the mystery of Pekidah, is hinted to in the words “Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; thought I have fallen, I will again rise.” The Ramchal explains that this is the aspect of the revelation of Hashem in a way of concealment, within the garments of nature. Its primary focus is the rectification of the externalities, the mystery of the national body – to raise up the Jewish nation from the dust of exile, to gather together their dispersion, and to return them to their land.
After this, the second stage will arrive, the mystery of Zechirah hinted to in the words, “For even though I sit in darkness, Hashem is my Light. During this stage, the light will come to a full and brilliant illumination, and everyone will recognize Hashem and His Sovereignty. During the stage of Pekidah, although there will certainly be wondrous redemptive developments, it will yet be in the aspect of “For even though I sit in darkness”, for the clear consciousness and awareness of the nation will not yet have arrived.
In Pekidah, the revelation of Hashem will be in a way of concealment. Broader awareness is considered a person’s “light”. All the while it has not yet arrived, it is considered as if he is sitting in darkness. Thus, when speaking about the stage of Pekidah, the Ramchal writes:
However, there are two things we need to know. The concealment will not have been removed – only in the innermost places, the place of nishmas Yisrael, but not externally… For all of these lights and matters relate to the inner lights that are not visible on the outside. Therefore, they will not bring a general awakening and rectification – only to am Yisrael… And you should know that when these lights shine upon this desire and yearning, an enormous and awesome light is drawn down into the Jewish nation, into all of their souls. Even if it does not manifest externally, their souls will have received this illumination.
This is the stage of Pekidah, an illumination within the inner recesses of the soul, unbeknownst to Man and his awareness. After this comes the stage of Zechirah, the appearance of Hashem in a revealed way, as the Ramchal continues:
Now, I will begin to explain the concept of Zechirah. It is written, “And Hashem will be King over the entire earth etc.” (Zecharya 14:9) This is the ultimate goodness and peace that Hashem promised am Yisrael would experience in time to come. Understand that it does not say, “V’haya Hashem Melech,” but “V’haya Hashem l’Melech”. The reason being that… in time to come, the force of evil will be removed from the negative forces, and whatever is left of them will return to the service of holiness, and everyone will recognize that Holiness alone is the true root and the master of all. Therefore, it says, “V’haya Hashem l’Melech al kol ha’aretz”. For, “Melech kol ha’aretz” – This He already is and already was, always, for there is no creation which functions outside of His domain – it is just that not all of His servants recognize Him. This is what is written, “Then, I will turn over all the nations etc.” (Tzefania 2:9). Therefore, it says, “V’haya Hashem le’Melech”, for they will recognize this truth and recall His Name and His ways… The light will eternally increase, and blessings will become renewed at every moment amidst abundant peace and joy… Once the entire creation has been rectified, the evil in the negative forces has faded, and the good has been properly drawn after holiness, this is the mystery of “calculating converts” (Yevamos 79a). It will then be known to all that there is not but one source, One, Unified, and Unique – He is our G-d, and there is no other. Therefore, “Yihyeh Hashem echad uShmo echad.”
It is thus clearly explained that the stage of Zechirah features the manifestation of Hashem in a revealed way, a time when everyone will recognize His Kingship and Sovereignty, and the light will appear openly and clearly.