Chapter 6. Vision 8, the four chariots. Joshua crowned.
Summary: in the future God will judge Babylon, the center of evil, but meanwhile Joshua as priest and king represents the future Messiah Priest King.
Chapter 6 is the last of the night visions, all of which Zechariah received during the night of February 15, 519 BC.
- Zechariah 6.1-3. Zechariah sees four war chariots that come out from between two bronze mountains. Bronze often symbolizes judgment as in Numbers 21.9. The mountains are probably Mt Zion and the Mount of Olives, though the text does not say this. God’s judgment comes from this area and extends to the nations. The chariots symbolize judgment. The colors of the horses, if the same or similar to the four horses of Revelation 6, symbolize war (red), famine (black), conquest (white), death by various causes (dappled). See Revelation 6.1-8 where the first four seals of the Tribulation period are broken and show the white, red, black, and pale horses of God’s judgment.
- Zechariah 6.4-8. The chariots are four spirits (angels) that were sent from the Lord of all the earth for reconnaissance and judgment of other nations. The black and white horsed chariots go north (Babylon, Jeremiah 1.14; 4.6), and the dappled horsed chariot goes south (Egypt). The red is not mentioned. The black and white horsed chariots which went north appeased the Lord’s wrath. If the north country is Babylon, which seems reasonable in the historical context, Cyrus had already defeated Babylon in 539 BC and it is now 519 BC. The Lord’s wrath will be appeased sometime in the future by another defeat of Babylon, in the Tribulation. See Revelation 16.19; 17.5; 18.2,10 where Babylon is named.
- Zechariah 6.9-10. Zechariah now records an actual event in which he took part, and he records the LORD Yahweh’s instructions. Three exiles have come from Babylon. They brought an offering of silver and gold to be used in the construction of the temple. This meeting took place in the house of Josiah, the son of Zephaniah.
- Zechariah 6.11-13. The LORD Yahweh told Zechariah to make a crown out of the silver and gold and put it on Joshua the high priest’s head. The high priest did not wear a crown, only a turban. The word for crown is in the plural which may have significance as a pointer to the double honor of king and priest. Note that no crown was placed on Zerubbabel, the governor and one in David’s line (Haggai 1.1; Matthew 1.12-13). The explanation follows: “a man whose name is Branch” will branch out or grow up (Zechariah 3.8; 6.12; Isaiah 9.7; 11.1; 53.2; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15) and build the temple of the LORD. Zerubbabel is in charge of building the second temple at that time, not Joshua (Zechariah 4.9-10). This Branch is the High Priest and he also wears the King’s Crown. The Branch is the coming Messiah who will be both King and Priest (Psalm 2.6; 110.4). Jesus Messiah will build the future Millennial Temple and many will come to worship him (Isaiah 2:1–4; Micah 4:1–5; Haggai 2:7–9; Zechariah 8.22). More explanation of Messiah as King and Priest is stated in Zechariah 6.13: this coming branch will have honor, sit and rule, be a priest on his throne, and the office of priest and king will be joined into one person.
- Zechariah 6.14-15. This crown of Zechariah’s time will not be worn. It will be placed in the rebuilt temple in Zechariah’s time and be a reminder of Yahweh’s promises and plans for the future. In the future many will come and help construct the future millennial temple. The chapter closes with a promise that the blessings of participating in building the millennial temple will be for those who obey the LORD their God. This is reminiscent of Deuteronomy 28-31, the blessing and the cursing.
So What? Applications from Zechariah 6
- Zechariah tells us where history is going. There is a future. First, judgment against those nations that attack Israel. Then LORD Messiah returning and building his temple and ruling as King and Priest.
- In the future God will judge Babylon (north) and Egypt (south) for their part in promoting evil and especially evil toward Israel. Israel has a bright future under the King Priest LORD, but that future will be brought in by catastrophic divine judgment.
- At the time of Zachariah’s ministry Zerubbabel was the governor and Joshua was the high priest. Joshua was made a symbol of one called Branch, a future person who would be both High Priest and King—LORD Messiah. He will join the two offices in his person.
- A new temple will be built by Branch (King Priest the LORD) in this future time we know as the Millennium.
- The LORD wants his people to obey him so that they may participate in his blessings.
- More details of this story are found in Zechariah’s last chapters (Zechariah 12-14).