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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
Zechariah 6

 

 


Verses 1-15

The Eighth Vision - Four Chariots

(vv. 1-8)

The last of Zechariah's visions is of four chariots coming forth between the two mountains (JND). Note that the definite article "the" is used here, and inasmuch as the city of Jerusalem has been the main subject of Zechariah's prophecy, it is evident that the two mountains are Mount Zion and Mount Olivet, between which lay the valley of Jehoshaphat. They are said to be bronze (or copper) mountains, emphasizing the holiness of God in government. It is manifestly God who is sending them forth with some definite purpose in view.

Red horses were drawing the first chariot, black horses the second, white horses the third, and dappled and strong horses the fourth. These four horses represent some answer from God to the four kingdoms that wasted Israel. Yet in this case it it not direct judgment, but rather the sovereign government of God. The angel answered Zechariah's question by telling him that these horses "are four spirits of heaven who go out from their station before the Lord of all the earth" (v. 5). They are therefore energizing principles working behind the scenes with effective power.

The order of presentation of the colors of the horses is different than in Revelation 6:1-17, for the significance is different. Red stands for the power of attraction, just as Babylon, the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar, drew the attention of all the earth because of its magnificence (Daniel 4:10-22). So the red horses indicate that the power of God is superior to that of Nebuchadnezzar.

Verse 6 passes by the red when considering the sphere of operation and begins with the black, because the Babylonian kingdom had already given place to the kingdom of the Medes and Persians, so Babylon was no longer a threat to Israel. The Medes and Persians were gradually on the way out too, and the black horses seem to indicate the darkness of that kingdom's eventual extinction. The black horses were going to the north country since the Medes and Persians had extended their kingdom greatly in that direction, so as to awaken the anger of Alexander and the Greeks (Daniel 8:4-7).

"The white are going after them." White speaks of victory. Alexander the Great, in defeating the Medes and Persians and in many other engagements, was spectacular in his decisive victories. But true victory is in the hands of the Lord Jesus, and the Grecian empire too would be easily overcome by the sublime victory of the Lord of glory. Alexander's kingdom embraced the same northern areas as did that of the Medes and Persians, but the Lord's white horses would overcome him.

The horses of the fourth chariot are seen as divided in verses 6 and 7, the dappled horses going toward the south country and the strong going to walk back and forth through the earth. This indicates God's action toward the Roman empire, first in its original condition, and secondly in its future condition when revived during the tribulation period. Rome's conquests first took them southward, but when that empire is revived, it will seek to extend its power as widely as possible through the earth. God knows how to meet these things. The dappled horses speak of judgment tempered with mercy, possibly indicating that God's judgment of the original Roman Empire was not so devastating as it will be against the revived Roman Empire, when "the strong horses" will overcome the boasted strength of the beast and his armies. Indeed, the overruling power of God will control and direct the power of Rome even while it is opposed to Him

THE CROWNING OF THE HIGH PRIEST

(vv. 9-11).

The eight visions being ended, the word of the Lord comes to Zechariah with a message of great importance. Now that all opposing authority has been put down, as the four chariots indicate, we are to see authority approved by God in its proper place. This is plainly symbolic of the future crowning of the Lord Jesus as priest upon His throne.

Zechariah is told to take an offering from three exiles who had arrived from Babylon and were received into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah (v. 10). This is a picture of the remnant of Israel in the time of the end being recovered after long years of exile which began with the captivity of Babylon. Josiah's name means "he will be sustained by Jehovah," and Zephaniah means "treasured by Jehovah." The exiles are welcomed into such circumstances, indicating that God valued them and would sustain them. They willingly come with an offering, which speaks of their voluntary appreciation of the Messiah of Israel.

In such a house Zechariah is to make (with the offering) crowns of both gold and silver, an elaborate crown. He was to put this crown on the head of Joshua, the high priest, not on Zerubbabel, the governor. This was most unusual! Joshua was of the line of Aaron, of the tribe of Levi. Priests came from this line, but never kings. Israel's king came from the tribe of Judah. But this occasion symbolizes the fact that Christ will be both Priest and King. He is King, being of the tribe of Judah, and Priest, not of the Aaronic line, but of the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6:20).

THE MESSAGE TO JOSHUA

(vv. 12-15)

Zechariah is now instructed (v. 12) to tell Joshua the meaning of this symbolic act, so Joshua will not think he was actually to be king. The message came directly from the Lord of hosts, "Behold the Man whose name is the Branch." It is interesting that over 500 years later, Pilate the governor used these first three words, "Behold the Man" in presenting the Lord Jesus before the Jews (John 19:5). He probably did not know anything about Zechariah's prophecy, but God put these words into his mouth, to face the Jews with a prophecy they knew referred to the Messiah. Sad to say, it only incensed them instead of convicting them.

We saw in Zechariah 3:8 that the Branch is literally "the Sprout," the One who came from the stalk of Jesse, as David did, who specially typifies Christ as King of Israel. He would grow up from His own place. Having a place of lowly rejection to begin with, He would by the power of God grow up or emerge into a place of highest honor and dignity. In this verse the emphasis is on the fact that He is truly "The Man." Elsewhere the emphasis is on His royalty (Jeremiah 23:5), on His being Servant (Zechariah 3:8), and on His being "Jehovah" (Isaiah 4:2). All of these are essential in God's Messiah, but in our chapter both His royalty and His priesthood are considered, and both of these require that He should be a true Man.

The fact is emphasized the second time (v. 13) that He shall build the temple, for man's natural pride would like to think himself capable of doing this. David's thoughts along this line had to be corrected (2 Samuel 7:11), and Peter's similar thoughts were strongly reproved by God's voice from heaven (Luke 9:33-35). Orthodox Jews today know this scripture and are looking for their Messiah to come and build the temple. While many Jews are stirred up to desire the Dome of the Rock removed, wanting to replace it by a Jewish temple, yet they fear to do this. Still, by the middle of the seven year "tribulation" period following the Rapture, there will be a temple, erected by humans, in such a location that it will be called "the temple of God" (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

The Branch, the Lord Jesus, will build yet another temple of the Lord at Jerusalem that will endure through the Millennium. All previous temples will have been done away, including the one which stands during the tribulation period. Today, however, before the time of the Lord's building of Israel's temple, He is engaged in the building of a spiritual house, the Church of God, adding to that building every convert to Himself as a living stone, and the building is growing "into a holy temple in the Lord" (Ephesians 2:21). Thus, believers are "being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:22). God dwelling there is the most important feature of the temple. He loves to dwell with His own, whether in the Church today, or with Israel in the millennial age.

Returning to verse 13, "He shall bear the glory." The glory and honor of being entrusted with the authority of ruling Israel and the whole world will be perfectly safe when borne on the shoulder of this faithful Son of Man. He alone of all men will be able to bear this glory. Even David was not able to bear it: he failed badly, as did Solomon and the kings that followed. "He shall sit and rule on His throne." This looks forward to the millennial age. Already He is seated with the Father on the Father's throne (Revelation 3:21), but will take His own throne when coming as the Son of Man in power and glory to subdue all creation under His feet.

More than this, "He shall be a priest on His throne." No king of Israel could be a priest, for kings were of the tribe of Judah while priests were from Levi. Yet before Israel's existence, there was a man who was both king and priest of the Most High God (Genesis 14:18). This man, Melchizedek, was typical of Christ, who would combine both offices in His own person (Hebrews 7:1-3). While His kingship establishes His authority, His priesthood adds the wonderful feature of tender grace and sympathy (Hebrews 4:14-16). "The counsel of peace shall be between them both." While kings and priests of Israel often could not agree, yet in the royalty and priesthood of Christ there is beautiful concord: authority and grace are perfectly balanced in Him, both being fully maintained according to the counsel of God.

The crown would then remain as a memorial in the temple of the Lord to the three men mentioned in verse 10, and as a memorial to the grace or kindness of the son of Zephaniah in having welcomed the three exiles from Babylon. The returning exiles, as we have seen, are typical of the remnant of Israel returning in the last days, and the crowns indicate their giving to the Lord Jesus the place of supreme authority as both King and High Priest of His people. The memorial of their faith will remain, just as will the memorial of the great grace by which they are received back to the land.

Other Israelites would come from "far off" to help build the temple, recognizing the true Messiah in His directing that building process. Peter refers to those "far off" (Acts 2:39) as the dispersed Israelites, to whom later he writes his first epistle as guided by God (1 Peter 1:1). On the other hand, Paul writes to Gentiles as having been "far off," yet brought near by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13), who are made members of the body of Christ along with Jewish believers of this present dispensation of grace.

Whether Zechariah 6:15 includes Gentiles is a question perhaps not easily settled, but Isaiah 60:10 prophesies that "the sons of foreigners shall build up your walls," the walls of the city, not the temple, and that Gentiles will be most cooperative with Israel in that coming day of glory.

The coming of those from far off to help build the temple was an additional confirmation that "the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you." We may take this as the words of the angel speaking with Zechariah, but it seems to apply in its fullness to the sending of the Messiah in that future day.

This would come to pass if Israel would diligently obey the voice of the Lord their God. But sending of the Messiah will not take place till Israel is brought back from their rebellious wanderings and into subjection to the Word of God. For centuries the nation of Israel has been disobedient, rebellious and scattered as though not a nation at all, stubbornly persisting in their rejection of Christ. When finally they receive Him, then we are told, "Your people shall be volunteers in the day of your power" (Psalms 110:3).

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Zechariah 6:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/zechariah-6.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 27th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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