Zechariah 6 - Outline of Zechariah (Book Notes menu page)
I. Symbolic Visions - Israel's Messianic Hope: Sure (ch. 1-6)
  1. Introduction and Message of Warning, 1:1-6
  2. Ten Visions, 1:7 - 6:15 -
    1. A Rider among the Myrtle Trees, and Horses behind Him (1:7-17)
    2. Four Horns (1:18-19
    3. Four Smiths (1:20-21)
    4. Man with Measuring Line (2:1-13)
    5. Joshua and Satan (3:1-7)
    6. The LORD's Servant, the Branch (3:8-10)
    7. Lampstand and Two Olive Trees (4:1-14)
    8. Flying Roll (5:1-4)
    9. Woman in the Ephah (5:5-11)
    10. Four Chariots & the Crowned Priest (6:1-15)
1. And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked,
and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains;
and the mountains [were] mountains of brass.
2 In the first chariot [were] red horses; and in the second chariot black horses;
3 And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses.
4 Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me,
What [are] these, my lord?
5 And the angel answered and said unto me,
These [are] the four spirits of the heavens,
which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.
6 The black horses which [are] therein go forth into the north country;
and the white go forth after them;
and the grisled go forth toward the south country.
7 And the bay went forth,
and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth:
and he said, Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth.
So they walked to and fro through the earth.
8 Then cried he upon me, and spake unto me, saying,
Behold, these that go toward the north country have quieted my spirit in the north country.
Behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains... of brass.-
What are these two mountains?
  • Brass is symbolic of judgment upon sin. (For example, in the Tabernacle, sin and uncleanness were dealt with, at the brasen altar and at the brasen laver.)
  • Many scholars identify Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives as the two mountains, saying that judgment will begin there and go throughout the earth. While this explanation is valid geographically, it overlooks important details relating to the time, source, and nature of this judgment.
    • The Nature: Although other passages show us that these judgments have terrible physical effects upon the earth, they are spiritual in nature, being implemented by "the four spirits of the heavens."
    • The Source: Although these judgments will be geographically centered around Jerusalem, the spiritual beings who implement them will "go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth." Since God is the ultimate source of these judgments, and since these judgments "come out from between" the two mountains, these mountains must relate to Him in some way.
    • The Time: The ten visions (of Zechariah ch. 1-6) trace the course of Gentile world dominion, which was introduced in Nebuchadnezzar's vision of Daniel ch. 2, and expanded in Daniel's visions of ch. 7-12. Zechariah's visions add new perspective concerning the LORD's work in behalf of Israel while she is yet in her downtrodden condition (review the outline of Zechariah). However, Zechariah's visions correspond chronologically with Daniel's visions. In Zechariah ch.5, we saw the establishment of the kingdom of wickedness, corresponding to the reign of the Antichrist. Thus, as Zechariah ch.6 opens, we are viewing the closing days of gentile world dominion, the period of the "ten toes" as described in Dan 2:34-35,44-45. Notice that those verses identify the two mountains of that time!
  • The two mountains are: the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, and the universal dominion of the LORD God, from which Christ's Kingdom comes. [ie., The stone (Christ) is 'cut out of the mountain' (the Kingdom of God) and becomes a great mountain that fills the earth (the Millennial Kingdom of Christ). Dan 2:34-35,44-45]
    • From the mount of the LORD's dominion, Moses received God's written Word, which went forth into all the earth, as the standard of righteousness and the curse upon sin (cp. Deu 5:22-26; Zech 5:1-4). Though mankind has rejected God's Word, and though they establish their kingdom of wickedness upon their own godless foundation, the curse upon sinners remains constant in its potency to consume them (Zech 5:9-11; Prov 21:30).
    • The Kingdom of Christ will displace the Antichrist's kingdom of wickedness which will prevail during the brief Tribulation period (cp. Psa 2:1-6; Jer 10:10; 23:5,6). [In the following references, Jerusalem, as the center of the Millennial Kingdom, is referred to as 'the mountain of the LORD': Isa 2:3; 30:29; Mic 4:2; Zech 8:3]
    • The judgment comes out from 'between' the two mountains, in several senses:
      1. The judgment is sourced in God and His Anointed One (Acts 17:30,31).
      2. Wicked men will be crushed between their disregard for the curse of God's Law, and their rejection of salvation through His Christ (Isa 8:14,15; Mat 21:42,44).
      3. The kingdom of Wickedness will rise and fall (under God's judgment) in a period of time between man's complete rejection of the LORD's dominion, and the coming of Christ's Kingdom on the earth.
in the first chariot... red horses...-
This is rather unusual. All four types of horses are seen riding in the chariots, rather than pulling them!
     The horses (symbolic of the forces used in exercising God's judgment) are transported in chariots (symbolic of speed) to the place deserving of judgment, to speed the fulfillment of His purpose at the appointed time (Deu 32:35; Isa 14:26,27). [This is comparable to the way 'wickedness' was carried to her place, speedily on wings, when its measure (the ephah) was full. Zech 5:5-11]
     Horses and chariots are often associated with judgment. (The following references, specific to the Day of the LORD, view raging fleshly forces: Jer 46:9,10; Joel 2:1-11. The following references view the unseen angelic army at God's command: 2Kin 6:17; Psa 68:17.)
These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.-
The four spirits are angelic beings whom the Lord has prepared for the work of judgment (cp. Heb 1:7; Rev 7:1-3; 9:14,15). They have long stood ready, waiting for the command to go forth to exercise judgment, while the LORD, in His longsuffering, allowed the sinful world to be at rest (Zech 1:8-11). But now the day of vengeance has come.
...the black horses go forth into the north country... and the white go forth after them;
...the grisled go forth toward the south country... and the bay went forth... to and fro through the earth...-
In Zech 1:8-11 and in Revelation ch. 6, we see similarly colored horses. But there are differences between these passages.
     The horses, here (as in Zechariah ch.1), are without riders. In Rev ch.6, the ominous significance, of each horse, is depicted in its color, and revealed in the name or description of its rider.
  • White (Rev 6:2, the Antichrist and his false peace),
  • Red (Rev 6:4, war),
  • Pale (ie., speckled, Rev 6:8, pestilence and death).
  • Black (Rev 6:5,6, representing mourning and famine).
    Note that the black horse was absent in Zechariah ch.1, but here, it is the first to go forth.
Here, the fact that the horses 'go forth' indicates that the time of judgment has come. The weight and power of the judgment is conveyed by the multiplicity of horses of each color.
     Note also that, in this passage, the various colors do not differentiate between various kinds of plagues. Rather, the horse colors are associated with specific regions upon which judgment falls. Together, these horses, thundering off in all directions, represent the widespread judgment sent forth from God upon the earth.
...north... south... through the earth.-
     These directions are relative to the land of Israel. In time past, God's judgment had fallen upon Israel due to their rebellion against Him. But the gentile nations had afflicted and abused Israel beyond what He intended. Furthermore, the nations had not heeded the lesson, from Israel's example, that the Holy God must judge all unrighteousness. Therefore, the LORD will take vengeance upon the nations that afflicted His people (Isa 2:10-22; Jer 25:29-38; Zech 1:14-17).
     Note that both the black and the white horses go toward the north. Historically, the Assyrian and Babylonian armies had come from the north to conquer Israel and Judah. Therefore, perhaps the northern regions were deserving of a double portion of judgment.
     However, since the passage is primarily prophetic, this looks to the future: Early in the future Tribulation period, the forces of Gog and Magog will come out of the north to invade Israel, at a time when she 'dwells safely' under the false security of their covenant with the Antichrist (see Ezekiel ch.38-39). The attack from the north will test that covenant and cause the Antichrist [the rider on a white horse of Rev 6:2] to retaliate forcefully against the invaders, burying their land under the devastation of war [depicted by the black horses]. [For further discussion of the events described in Ezekiel 38-39, see the Book Notes there. Also see Dan 11:40-43 and the related Book Notes. (Note that in Dan 11:36-45, the pronouns 'he' and 'him' refer to the Antichrist.)]
     At that time, the kingdoms of the south will also suffer judgment, through the Antichrist's wrath, for they will be in league with those northern nations. [The grisled horses go toward the south.]
     But the remainder of the earth will not escape, for the whole world will be in complicity in their hatred of God and of His people.
    The red horses are not specifically mentioned among those that go forth. Also, the grisled and bay horses, which were grouped together in v.3 appear to be separated in v.6,7. Critics point to these as textual inconsistencies. However, the supposed inconsistencies disappear when the word 'bay' is translated according to the primary meaning of its Hebrew word {'amots, ie., 'strong'}. Thus, in v.3, the word provides a summary description of the four kinds of horses: they are all 'strong.' Likewise, in v.7, the 'strong' horses, that 'went forth... to walk to and fro through the earth,' refers to all of the horses, including the red ones. The judgment from the LORD will be strong throughout the earth, wherever it falls.
Behold, these that go toward the north have quieted my spirit in the north country.-
The word 'quieted' is HB=nuwach, 'given rest to.' That is, through the judgment poured out upon the north country, God's wrath against them has been satisfied.
     Compare Isa 1:24; Eze 5:13; 16:42 - The two passages from Ezekiel use the same word for 'rest' {HB=nuwach}. These three references (in their contexts, referring to the satisfaction of God's wrath against Israel) serve to illustrate the meaning of v.8 relative to His wrath against the gentile nations... first, against the northern nations, and then against all nations. God's Spirit will not rest, until His judgment upon sin is completed. cp. Jer 30:23,24)
9. And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
10 Take of [them of] the captivity,
[even] of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon,
and come thou the same day,
and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah;
11 Then take silver and gold, and make crowns,
and set [them] upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest;
12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying,
Behold the man whose name [is] The BRANCH;
and he shall grow up out of his place,
and he shall build the temple of the LORD:
13 Even he shall build the temple of the LORD;
and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne;
and he shall be a priest upon his throne:
and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.
14 And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah,
and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah,
for a memorial in the temple of the LORD.
15 And they [that are] far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD,
and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you.
And [this] shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God.
take them of the captivity... into the house of Josiah...-
Zechariah was instructed to provide an object lesson. Three men who had recently arrived, on an expedition from the Jewish exiles in Babylon, were taken into the house of a resident of Jerusalem. From the gift of silver and gold which they had brought to further the work on the Temple, Zechariah was to...
make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest...-
'Crowns' may be in the plural of majesty, indicating one superlative crown.
Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH...- cp. Jer 23:5,6; Zech 3:8; Isa 4:2
Wearing this glorious crown(s), Joshua the son of Josedech was a type, or picture, of Christ, in the future day when His people (those in the land and those in the diaspora) receive Him as their King. This will happen immediately after the judgments pictured in the first half of this chapter (cp. 2The 1:7-10), when Christ establishes His Millennial Kingdom (Rev 20:1-6).
...he shall grow up out of his place...-
He will rise to prominence from a place of humilation and obscurity. cp. Isa 11:1; 53:1-3; Mic 5:2
...and he shall build the temple of the LORD...-
Christ is currently building a spiritual temple (ie., the Church, see 1Pet 2:4,5; Eph 2:20-22; Heb 3:3,4).
     However, because this passage concerns the restoration of national Israel, following the judgment of the nations in the Tribulation, the primary reference is to the future physical Temple in Jerusalem, during Christ's Millennial Kingdom (which Temple is described in detail in Ezekiel ch.40-47).
     Today, zealous Zionists are making plans for rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem, to prepare for the Messiah's coming. However, the next temple upon the Temple Mount in Jerusalem will be the Tribulation temple, which the Antichrist will defile (Rev 11:1,2; 2The 2:3,4).
     However, the Temple, to which the Messiah will come in His glory, is the Temple that He will build. This is emphatically stated by the repetition of: "he shall build the temple of the LORD" (v.12,13).
...he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne...-
Just as the kingly crown was placed on the head of Joshua, the High Priest, so, Christ will be both the High Priest and the King of His Kingdom.
     Christ's dual role as Priest and King was also typified by Melchizedek. See Heb 7:1,2,17, which quotes Psa 110:4. Read the whole Psalm and observe the parallels with the 'Branch' of Zechariah ch.6:
  • His rise from a place of humiliation and rejection (Psa 110:1).
  • His dual role as King and Priest (Psa 110:2,4).
  • His people (Israel) will willingly submit to Him, at the time of His power (ie., dominion) (Psa 110:3).
  • His severe judgment upon the gentile nations (Psa 110:5,6).
  • His restoration and elevation of His people (Psa 110:7).
The glory, that He will bear at that time, is the glory that Ezekiel foresaw filling the Millennial Temple (Eze 43:2-7).
and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.-
Between 'the King of Righteousness' and 'the High Priest' who offered one effective sacrifice for sin, God's purpose (counsel) will be accomplished through one Person (Heb 10:11-14).
When that purpose is fully accomplished, there will be:
  • Peace between God and man, through faith in the King-Priest's work (Rom 5:1).
  • Peace between Jews and Gentiles, who share this one King and Priest (Eph 2:8-19).
  • Peace extending to all people everywhere, in the future day when He governs the earth (Isa 9:6,7; 32:17; Mic 5:4).
And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD...-
Those 'that are far off' includes the Jews of the diaspora and also the Gentiles. Isa 11:10-13; 56:6-8; 60:10
and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you.-
Israel will no longer question the identity of the One who is their King and Priest. cp. Zech 2:8-11; 4:8,9, where Zerubbabel is a 'type' of Christ.
And this shall come to pass, if {ie., when} ye will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God.-
The events foretold in this chapter are not conditional. They will come to pass even though men choose to disregard God's Word, for they are according to God's purpose. Yet, only those who trust and obey the LORD will enjoy the promised peace.
     This final line of the chapter is especially directed toward Israel. The two words at its center ('diligently obey') are a translation of the HB word "shama," meaning 'hear' (as used in Deu 6:4,5, the "Sh'ma Yisrael"). The Messiah's earthly kingdom of peace will come at the time when Israel recognizes and submits to the true King-Priest, who is the 'one LORD' of whom God's Word speaks.
...and the crowns shall be... for a memorial in the temple of the LORD.-
The crown(s), placed temporarily upon Joshua's head, would to be kept in the Temple as a reminder of this message from God, and as a token of assurance that God will keep His Word.
- - The meanings of the names mentioned in this passage also reinforce this message.
  • Before the crowning,
    • Those who came from the exiles were:
         Heldai {meaning: worldly, terrestrial},
         Tobijah {the LORD is good}, and
         Jedaiah {the LORD knows}.
    • The resident of Jerusalem who received them into his home was:
         Josiah {the LORD heals} the son of Zephaniah {hidden by the LORD}.
    • These four men participated in and witnessed the crowning of Joshua (v.10).
  • The one crowned was:
       Joshua {Jehovah is salvation} the son of Josedech {Jehovah is just}. v.11
  • After the crowning, the same four witnesses are listed (v.14).
       However, the name Heldai is changed to Helem {healthy, strong}, and
       Josiah is called Hen {graciousness, favoured}.
The message conveyed, in the meaning of these names, may be reworded, thus:
Though Israel is exiled from her land and occupied with temporal earthly matters, the LORD is good and He knows their need. He is able to heal their waywardness, and He will hide them in the time of trouble.
     When the son of the just One, who is the salvation from Jehovah, is crowned,
His people will be at home in Jerusalem, healed and made strong, for the LORD is good and He knows how to graciously favour those whom He has hidden under His salvation.
     [Note that, in the NT, the name 'Joshua' is 'Jesus.' eg., Mat 1:21]
Also note the many parallels to this chapter in Jeremiah ch. 30.

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