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ZECHARIAH CHAPTER 6
The vision of the four chariots, Zechariah 6:1-8. By the crowns of Joshua the high priest are showed Christ the Branch, and his church and kingdom, Zechariah 6:9-15.
And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes: see Zechariah 5:1.
There came four chariots: the appearance or emblem is plain enough, we can easily conceive that; but the things signified hereby are most difficultly found out, and perhaps not found when we think they are: here then, if any where, all are bound to write modestly, and all are bound to read carefully, and to judge candidly. Whether by these chariots are meant,
1. The various changes made by wars in the nations; the chariots, as some say, were chariots for war, and drawn by several-coloured horses, and thus wars and mutations thereby might be signified: or,
2. The four monarchies, of different temper and carriage toward the Jews and others, whom they ruled, as very many learned expositors think: or,
3. The four Gospels, with the apostles and preachers of the gospel sent by Christ, as others.: or,
4. Angels, who are sometimes styled chariots of God, and who are by the prophets, Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and by the Apocalypse, introduced as great ministers and servants of Christ in the affairs of his church, —I determine not; though perhaps all these might fairly be woven into one web, in which angels, as employed in the affairs of church and empire, act their part in the revolution and changes of things, be these of what temper soever they will in both, till the gospel be preached by the Messiah and his apostles.
Out from between two mountains; out of a deep; shady, and dark valley, which here is laid between two mountains; so God’s judgments are a great deep, whilst his righteousness is as the great mountains, Psalms 36:6.
The mountains were mountains of brass: these mountains appear to the prophet very wonderful; for they were of brass, to denote the immovable decrees of God, his steady executions of his counsels, the insuperable restraints upon all empires and councils, which God keeps within the barriers of such impregnable mountains, whence not one can start till he open the way: and possibly it may import the pressures, difficulties, and distresses of the times signified hereby.
There is no distinction made between chariot and chariot, nor any mention made of the drivers of these chariots, though these are included in the chariots. Now by the different colours of the horses doth the prophet distinguish the chariots, and possibly that is all intended by the various colours, though generally interpreters do guess by the colour of the horses what should be the quality and temper of the times pointed at; of which a little: red horses may signify bloody times, a fiery execution of wrath, Revelation 6:4; black, a time of mortality, and wasting diseases, Revelation 6:5.
White horses; joyful and prosperous affairs: see Zechariah 1:8.
Grisled and bay; state of affairs mixed of good and bad: see Zechariah 1:8.
See Zechariah 1:19; Zechariah 5:6.
These are, signify, or are the emblems of, the four spirits, Heb. winds, to which the empires are compared, Daniel 7:2, and for the bustlings of them may be well compared so; and forasmuch as they are raised by the Lord, and are under his command, may properly enough be called
winds of the heavens, which blow as God orders. Or,
spirits, i.e. angels of heaven, who have, as ministers of the Divine Providence, a great share in the management of affairs both of church and states. Or, the impulses of God’s Spirit moving as he pleaseth in the kingdoms of men, and in his church. Indeed this is the great spring which moves angels, and sets them on work about what is to be done by them, either for or against states and kingdoms, especially in reference to the church of God.
Of the heavens, which, as they reside in heaven till employed, so go thence when employed, and observe the will of their God in heaven; and, having done their work, return thither again.
Standing before; they stand as servants attending the will and command of their Lord.
The Lord of the whole earth, their God is Lord of all, and their business, to do his will in all the earth, not in one part only, but every where, whithersoever they are sent.
The angel signified by the
black horses the executioners of God’s just displeasure against sinners.
Which are therein; in the second chariot, for nothing is said more of the first, (the red horses,) say some, because that bloody and cruel state was expired; but the sad things portended by the black horses are to come next on the scene.
Go forth into the north country; Babylon, the whole kingdom of Babylon, which lay so much north from Judea, and because the metropolis lay north the whole kingdom is called the north country; which must feel the effects of these black horses, which was executed by the hands of the Medes and Persians, assisted by that squadron of angels which appeared in the second place.
The white go forth after them; ministers of goodness, mercy, and kindness, went after the black, and their business was, say some, to dispose affairs for the benefit and joy of God’s people in Babylon, whither these were sent to preserve them, to conduct them, and bring them back; and here was great work in this, for many staid behind till Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s time.
The grisled go forth; the angels signified by these, and whose business, as some guess, lay in managing the Roman power, which was a mixture of many different people, and which were sometimes favourable, sometimes fierce and severe, to those they had to do with.
Toward the south country; Egypt and Arabia, which lay south of Judea, and which the Romans did, though late, subdue; it may perhaps point at their invading Africa too, whose punishments were mixed somewhat with kindness and mercy more than the punishments of Babylon were.
The bay went forth, from the place where the prophet saw them at first standing as at the starting-place,
and sought to go, either asked commission or waited for it, that they might walk to and fro through the earth: they had a larger commission, say some, the whole earth; or a particular commission to keep their rounds in the land of Judea, and to take care of their affairs for the comfort of that people.
He said, Christ, who hath all power in heaven and on earth,
Get you hence; stay no longer here, hasten to your charge; as you have desired, so do.
So they walked to and fro through the earth; they obey immediately, and do his commands. These bay horses are here represented as attempting, or making essay, which at first seems to take little effect, though at last, by a full commission empowered, they do succeed in the attempt. This might give ground to suppose here is some kingdom aimed at, which made some attempts to enlarge itself through all the earth, but failed in its attempt, which no wonder, since the angels which were to assist were not commissioned to walk through the whole earth, and they keeping to their commission gave no further help, for want of which the design failed. How far this may concern Goths and Vandais, or any more late empires and kingdoms, I have neither skill nor will further to inquire. Nor yet to inquire whether these bay horses were not emblems of angels employed by the Lord, in the government of the rest of the kingdoms of the world remote from Judea, but not remote from God’s wise and sovereign providence governing all the earth. The known empires here are supposed to have been managed by particular angels, represented according to the analogy between the colours of the horses and the complexion of the kingdoms. And it may seem likely that the rest of the world was not left without some to have care of them.
Then, when the prophet had been informed about the former vision,
cried he; the Angel that talked with the prophet, i.e. the Lord Christ, spake aloud. and called to him.
These that go, or are gone, for he speaks of what was already past; it is likely he meaneth the red horses.
Toward the north country; into Babylon.
Have quieted my spirit; either by doing what I appointed them against the cruel Chaldeans, in revenge of my people’s injuries, or bringing my people back out of Babylon into Canaan.
And: it appears not that this next thing hath any necessary connexion to that which the prophet last saw.
The word; the direction or command for the prophet to do something out of hand.
Take, gold and silver, of those that are come out of Babylon lately, to make their oblation to the Lord, or to bring the oblation of them who yet were in Babylon, but remembered Jerusalem and the temple.
And come thou; go fetch them if they lodge elsewhere, and bring them in thy company.
The same day; the same day in which they come, or else in the same day that I speak unto thee, delay not.
And go into the house of Josiah: some say he was a goldsmith, others, that he was treasurer for the temple, and that these persons before named had brought a rich present to him for the temple and the service of the Lord.
Then take silver and gold: this reiterating the command both confirms and explains the former command.
Make crowns; two, the one of silver, the other of gold.
Set them, put both of them, i.e. one after the other,
upon the head of Joshua, who now in this circumstance stands a type of Christ, King and Priest for ever for his people, and this extraordinary act was to represent something extraordinary in the Messiah.
Speak unto him; Joshua, but in hearing of others, and in the name of the Lord.
Behold; consider thoroughly the import and meaning of this unusual ceremony.
The man; thou, Joshua, art the type or figure, but he that is the man signified by thee, is that great person God hath promised, and you do expect, and who shall come.
Whose name is the Branch; whom you know by the name of the Branch, who was called so long since, Messiah Ben David; this wonderful person is the man that is crowned, as King and Priest, by proxy, or in effigy: thou, O Joshua, art the portrait; he is the Branch itself, Zechariah 3:8.
He shall grow up; though you may perhaps suspect the root dry or dead, yet assuredly it is not, the Branch will spring up, Messiah, King and Priest, shall be born in due time.
Out of his place; of the same tribe and family, and in the same place, foretold.
He shall build the temple; he it is, though unseen, that stands by you, that builds the material temple: neither Zerubbabel nor Joshua, nor all the Jews, could do any thing without Christ in the present building, which is yet far inferior to the spiritual temple, which Christ will build, beautify, and preserve, and dwell in for ever.
Even he shall build: the promise is repeated to settle the Jews in the assured expectation of the thing.
The temple of the Lord; your material temple as type, and the spiritual temple as antitype.
He shall bear the glory of both kingly office and priestly, the glory of both those crowns shall abide on him, the only person worthy of it.
He shall sit; which speaks both his royal magnificence and the perpetuity of it.
And rule; though he shall have many attendants and officers, yet he shall rule, give laws, distribute rewards, and punish offenders.
Upon his throne; his by birth, by donation, by purchase, and by conquest, his most undoubtedly by best right.
He shall be a priest; the great High Priest, to offer the great sacrifice to God, to make reconciliation, to intercede for his people: this is that meant by the crowns set on thy head, O Joshua.
The counsel of peace shall be between them both; the peace made for God’s people shall rest upon these two, the kingly and priestly office of Christ: by his priestly office he shall make their peace with God, by his kingly office he shall deliver them from spiritual enemies; by priestly operation he shall expiate our sin, by the power of his kingly office he shall extirpate sin; as Priest he makes, as King maintains, peace; purchase as a Priest, protect as a King.
The crowns; those two crowns before mentioned, made of the gold and silver brought from Babylon, Zechariah 6:11.
Shall be to Helem, & c.: these persons we know no more of with any certainty but their names.
For a memorial, of their incredulity, say some, of their liberality, say others; but these crowns were certainly to be memorials of the Messiah’s certain and speedy coming, and to be reserved in the temple as a memorial of this solemn typical inauguration of Joshua, or Messiah in him.
This verse hath certainly a double reference, one to the Jews, and the building of the material temple, which is the literal and historical sense; the other mystical, and refers to the bringing in of the Gentiles.
They that are far off; such Jews as do now abide in Babylon and Persia, or other remote parts. It is also the character of the Gentiles, Acts 2:39; Ephesians 2:13,Ephesians 2:17.
Shall come and build in the temple; the Jews did so with their gifts, came to Jerusalem and built with their brethren; the Gentiles are come in and build the spiritual temple.
Ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you; the accomplishment of this shall prove my words to be God’s word, and that I am sent of him.
This shall come to pass; the literal part shall come to pass in your day,
if ye will obey the voice of the Lord your God speaking by me. The mystical part shall come to pass also; and, if you will believe and obey, the Gentiles shall come in and be your brethren, make up one church with you, and help to build the temple, the spiritual temple; but if you obey not, you shall be cast out, and the Gentiles be taken in, to be God’s people, and to build his temple.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Zechariah 6". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25