Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, June 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 6

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Verse 1

Four Chariots and Two Bronze Mountains

After the seven previous night visions, follows the eighth and last night vision. Zechariah sees four chariots. They represent the four world empires, while we see that God is completely in control of them. In Daniel 2 the empires are also represented, but then Nebuchadnezzar sees them, namely as a great statue (Daniel 2:31-Micah :). In Daniel 7 they appear again, but then Daniel sees them, namely as senseless beasts (Daniel 7:1-Judges :). Zechariah also sees them in Zechariah 6:2-Leviticus : as senseless beasts.

Kingdoms are nothing in themselves and can only do what pleases God. We see this in the two mountains, probably Mount Moria (or Zion) and Mount of Olives. Both mountains play an important role in the history of Jerusalem and in prophecy. Between the two mountains is the valley of Jehoshaphat – meaning “Yahweh judges” – where the nations will be judged (Joel 3:12). The mountains are said to be made of bronze (cf. Psalms 36:7). Bronze is a picture of the righteousness of God connected to the judgment (Numbers 16:37-Matthew :). God upholds His right when He judges hostile nations and protects His people, the believing remnant, from judgment.

God always reaches His goal and does so in a perfectly righteous way. The empires believe that they can do what they want. But here we see these empires with the eyes of the prophet, with the eyes of faith. We see how God directs the empires in their way. The chariots symbolize the government of God, Who is on His way to carry out His judgment on the four empires. The chariots of history go the way God wants. They accomplish the will of God without knowing it themselves. God directs history in such a way that His purpose is achieved.

The fact that there are four chariots indicates the universal of God’s directing. We see this in expressions like “four winds of the heavens” (Zechariah 2:6; Ezekiel 37:9), “the four ends of heaven” (Jeremiah 49:36) and “the four corners of the earth” (Revelation 7:1).

Verses 2-3

The Four Chariots and the Horses

The description of the horses is somewhat similar to that in Zechariah 1 (Zechariah 1:8; cf. Revelation 6:3-Ruth :). The similarity is that in both visions there are different colored horses. Apart from that, there are only differences. In Zechariah 1 we see only horses, with riders on them. They go over the earth to record the state of affairs and report about it (Zechariah 1:8-1 Kings :). Here they are war chariots with horses to carry out God’s judgments (Psalms 68:17). Each chariot has its own area (Zechariah 6:6).

Verses 4-5

The Four Spirits of Heaven

Zechariah wants to know the meaning of the chariots (Zechariah 6:4). He asks “the angel”, which is the Angel of the LORD, whom he addresses with “Lord”, Adonai. The Angel answers that the chariots are “the four spirits of heaven” (cf. 7:1; Daniel 7:2). They are powers that are sent out from heaven. It means that the four empires going forth are called up from heaven. In Psalm 104 winds – wind and spirit is the same word in Hebrew – are the messengers of God who carry out His will (Psalms 104:4).

All these powers have as their point of departure “the Lord of all the earth” (cf. Zechariah 4:14). The name of God has been “the God of heaven” since the exile. But God never gives up His claims to the earth. In order to maintain His claims He uses the ruling powers. They are under the providence of God Himself. He determines where they go, without them being able to deviate from the path He wants them to go. We see that in the two mountains of bronze they walk between. They are controlled by demonic powers, which are completely under God’s control.

Nations fight each other, but the demonic powers in the heavenly places that govern them do not fight each other, but God and His people. The main reason for the existence of the realm of Babylon is that through them God wanted to discipline the Assyrians for their attitude towards Israel. He also wanted to use the Babylonians as a means of discipline for His people because of their unfaithfulness. But when they violate His people, they are in turn given into the power of the next empire.

Verses 6-7

Where the Horses Are Going Forth to

About the red horses, where we can think of Babylon, nothing more is said because this empire is already over. The black horses represent the Medes and Persians. They go to the north where the Babylonian world empire is and subdue it. Then come the white horses, representing the Greek-Macedonian empire, and they conquer the Medo-Persian empire. Then come the horses representing the Roman world empire which also conquer the land of the south, which is Egypt, making Egypt a province of the Roman empire.

The strong horses, the Romans, want to subdue the whole earth and not just the country in the north and the country in the south. They can only fulfill their desire under God’s permission. They are not aware of this. We don’t read that in the history books either. But for faith this is reality.

Verse 8

God’s Wrath Appeased

God cries out to Zechariah and then speaks to him. The fact that the crying out of God precedes His speaking means that it is an urgent call to pay attention for what He is about to say. He tells Zechariah that He wanted the judgment of Babylon to appease His wrath. Literally it says “caused My spirit to rest in”. This is a thing of the past in Zechariah’s time.

God’s Spirit had no rest when His people stayed in Babylon. He worked in Cyrus to call His people to return to their land (Ezra 1:1-Leviticus :). Cyrus carried out the judgments of God on the Chaldeans. He helped, favored and redeemed God’s people. All this is very pleasing to God. It has calmed His Spirit.

Verses 9-10

Zechariah Must Take an Offering

When all postulated authority has been set aside and God’s Spirit has come to rest through the judgments exercised, it is the time for God to show the authority acknowledged by Him. This happens in the following message. This does not come in a vision like the previous message, but through “the word of the LORD” (Zechariah 6:9).

The LORD says to Zechariah that three men from Babylon who still live there, will come to visit him. They are mentioned by name. The three are a remnant in Babylon and represent those who will return to Israel in the last days, which are now near. Not all who stayed in Babylon have alienated themselves from God’s people. Although the serious word to flee from Babylon has also come to them (Zechariah 2:6), yet they have remained there.

Now they perform an act of faith that transcends the behavior of the returnees. They bring a great offering for the rebuilding of the temple. That is a stimulus for the others. God works profit for His house through the tribulation of exile. .

They come with gifts, with silver and gold (Zechariah 6:11). Much silver and gold is found with those who, through the exercise of exile, have learned to appreciate Jerusalem and the house of God. Silver speaks of what God is as He makes Himself known in the grace of reconciliation. Gold reminds us of the glory of God.

Zechariah has to go to the house of Josiah, the son of Zephaniah, on the same day that he gets the assignment. Josiah means ‘Yahweh supports’, Zephaniah means ‘Yahweh protects’. In the house that is connected to these names, the meeting takes place. The envoy from Babylon is already there and Zechariah has to join them there.

Verses 11-12

The Branch

Zechariah must make an ornate crown out of the silver and gold (Zechariah 6:11). He must then set it on the head of Joshua, the high priest. A crown does not belong to a high priest, but on the head of a king, the head of Zerubbabel, who is out of the line of David. However, God wants to show that King and Priest unite in the Person of the Messiah. Placing the crown on the head of the High Priest speaks symbolic language.

Zechariah must explain the meaning of this act to Joshua so that Joshua will not think he is the actual king. He must do so in the Name of the LORD of hosts, a name often mentioned in the remainder of the book. It is the name that indicates that the LORD has all power over all earthly and heavenly hosts.

The crown is connected to the Branch, literally Sprout, that is to come (Isaiah 4:2; Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15-Esther :). The call “behold, a man” is reminiscent of what Pilate says: “Behold, the Man!” (John 19:5). The Sprout is the Messiah from the house of David. Sprout means ‘to sprout out’ (Isaiah 53:2). He “will branch out from where He is” or “sprout out”, that is, out of Zion or Jerusalem. The Savior shall come out of Zion (Romans 11:26; Psalms 14:7), not to Zion. He is ascribed to Zion, he belongs to Zion (Psalms 87:5-Joshua :).

Joshua here in his ministry is a type of the Messiah, Who will be King-Priest, “He will be a priest on His throne” (Zechariah 6:13). He will be “a shoot” that “will spring from the stem of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:1). He shall come forth from His own people. And He will build the glorious temple of the realm of peace which we find in Ezekiel 40-43. Here it is about the future temple.

Verse 13

The Messiah Is Priest on His Throne

Zechariah 6:12-1 Chronicles : give a beautiful picture of the Messiah as King and Priest. He will have this dignity after His enemies have been dealt with, as described in the last night vision. He is still in heaven now and is not sitting on His own throne, but on that of His Father (Revelation 3:21). The moment that God will give Him His own throne, the throne of his father David, has yet to come (Luke 1:32). Then He will reign as King.

Everything gives way to Him:
1. The high priest Joshua of Zechariah 3 gives way to the Messiah Priest.
2. The governor Zerubbabel of Zechariah 4 gives way to the Messiah King.
3. Zerubbabel, the temple builder, gives way to Him Who builds the temple.
4. The two anointed ones of Zechariah 4 (Zechariah 4:14) give way to the anointed King-Priest.

He is the true Melchizedek, who was also king and priest (Hebrews 7:1). His kingship lays the foundation for His authority; His priesthood connects His caring grace and compassion to it. Each time the emphasis is on ‘He’. In this verse that word is rightly stated at the beginning of every line.

Between the two sides of the ministry that are present in one Person, “the counsel of peace” takes place. The royal aspect and the priestly aspect are in perfect harmony in Him. The counsel of peace will be there between the Messiah and Yahweh. He is Man and also God. This cannot be said of any human being. As a Man he is King and Priest, as Yahweh He fulfills all His promises in Him.

Verse 14

The Crown Comes in the Temple

This prophecy is given in response to the faithful act of the three men from Babylon whose hearts go out to God’s temple. The crown is given a place in the temple that Zerubbabel builds. The remembrance of the faith of the three and of the goodness of the one who took them into the house (Zechariah 6:10) will remain connected to the temple. Their deed will always remain in remembrance; that great is that deed for God.

Also today God has a temple, His house, the church. There God searches for hearts who want to contribute to its rebuilding in order to fulfill its purpose, which is that worship is performed. He will always think with joy of everyone, with whom He finds that.

Verse 15

The Nations Will Come and Build

Those “who are far off” are the nations. They will cooperate in building the temple of the LORD. It is about those from the nations who repent to the God of Israel. They will be counted among God’s people and will be allowed to build, not the temple, but the wall (Isaiah 60:10).

Again, the ‘me’ sent is ultimately the Messiah and not Zechariah (cf. Zechariah 4:9). Zechariah is here a picture of Him. The prerequisite for the fulfillment of all these things is to “completely obey the LORD your God”. They will do the same in the future, for then the law of God is given in their minds and written in their hearts (Hebrews 8:10). Then He is truly ‘their God’.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Zechariah 6". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/zechariah-6.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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