We continue this verse-by-verse study of Zechariah chapters 1-8 here in Part 4, starting with Zech. 6:1. I remind the reader that Zechariah chapters 9-14 are discussed in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." (The book is available on my internet site, at amazon.com, and at armageddonbooks.com.)
ZECHARIAH CHAPTER 6.
[Zechariah 6:1-8 give the eighth and last vision of the eight night visions of Zech. 1:7-6:8. Zechariah 6:9-15 contain a very important prophetic word about Christ's being a priest (He is the Great High Priest), and the King on His throne, and about His building God's ultimate temple/house/kingdom.] "Now I lifted up my eyes again and looked, and behold, four chariots were coming forth from between the two mountains; and the mountains were bronze mountains. [[I'm satisfied with the common view that the two mountains are Mount Zion (the temple mount) and the Mount of Olives, which is just east of Mount Zion, at Jerusalem. In this context, with the focus on God's end-time judgment of the nations, it is reasonable to think of the chariots coming forth from God at Jerusalem. (Compare, for example, Joel 3:16, 17.) The four chariots are used in God's judgment of the nations. The chariots will be discussed further as we continue.
Verse 6 speaks of the chariots being sent forth to the "north country" and the "south country," which refer to kingdoms north and south of Jerusalem (and the land of Judah/Israel), which is the center of the earth, biblically speaking. The fact that the mountains at Jerusalem are "bronze" mountains helps convey the idea that God's kingdom is indestructible - it will stand forever, unlike the kingdoms of the world (cf., e.g., Daniel chapter 2, especially verses 44, 45; 7:13, 14, 22, 26, 27 [I had a footnote: Daniel chapters 2 and 7 are discussed verse-by-verse in chapters 5 and 6 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture."]).]] (2) With the first chariot were red horses, with the second chariot black horses, (3) with the third chariot white horses, and with the fourth chariot strong dappled horses. [[The Hebrew adjective translated "strong" is used for the dappled horses here, but there is widespread agreement that verse 7 shows that all the horses are "strong" horses, whatever their color. At the end of verse 3, the NIV has, "- all of them powerful."]] (4) Then I [Zechariah the prophet] spoke and said to the angel who was speaking with me [the interpreting angel], 'What are these, my lord?' (5) The angel replied to me, 'These are the four spirits of heaven, going forth after standing before the Lord of all the earth, (6) with one of which [[The first words of verse 6 mean "with one of the four spirits [that were just mentioned in verse 5] the black horses are going forth...." The four spirits of heaven are not explained here ((I had a two-paragraph footnote: The four spirits refer to four powerful spiritual forces loyal to God. The fact that the spirits were standing before God demonstrates that something more than impersonal forces are spoken of here. The number "four" fits the idea of their "worldwide" involvement. "The universality of the judgment is indicated by the number 'four,' Cf. 'the four corners of the earth' (Isa. 11:12); 'the four winds of heaven' (Zech. 6:5; Jer. 49:36)" (Merrill. F. Unger, "Zechariah" [Zondervan, 1982], page 102). "The number four speaks of the universality of the judgment to be carried out by God's agencies..." (Charles L. Feinberg, "God Remembers: A Study of Zechariah" [Multnomah Press, 1979], page 76).
Only the "north country" and the "south country" are mentioned in these verses, but I believe it's clear that God's worldwide" judgment is in view. For one thing, the way the words the "north country" and the "south country" are used here they could cover the entire world. Going to, or from, Judah/Israel by land you typically went north or south - to the west was the Mediterranean Sea and to the east was extensive desert land. Furthermore, as I'll document under verses 6-8, kingdoms that were far to the east and west of Israel were sometimes spoken of in the Bible as being kingdoms of the "north," and the same thing was true regarding kingdoms of the "south" (including Egypt, which was/is west of Israel even as it is south). "Nothing is said...of horses going east and west because the Great Sea (the Mediterranean) bordered Israel's land on the west and the Arabian desert on the east. The millennial scope of this and of all eight of the night visions necessitates a world-wide sally of the horses (denoted by the number four) with their chariots, as in the first vision in the case of the horsed riders presented there (Zech. 1:7-17). ..." (Unger, "Zechariah," page 106).)), but it is clear here that the four spirits (in company with the horses) are going forth to accomplish God's judgments on the nations. I believe these judgments will take place at the end of this age, just before the millennial kingdom begins.]] the black horses are going forth to the north country; and the white ones go forth after them, while the dappled ones go forth to the south country. [For the interpretation see the two-paragraph footnote under verse 6, and see under verse 8.] (7) When the strong ones went out, they were eager to go to patrol the earth.' [[There is widespread agreement that the "strong ones" refer to all the horses with their chariots, not just to the dappled ones. I'm not satisfied with the translation "to patrol" here or later in this verse. That verb hardly fits the idea of going forth on missions of judgment. (I had a footnote: As verse 5 shows, the four spirits went forth "after standing before the Lord of all the earth," from whom they undoubtedly received their assigned missions.) It would be better to translate they were eager "to go throughout the earth" with the NIV. In the margin the NASB says the literal translation is "walk about through." The horses "were eager" (the Hebrew would be more literally translated "were seeking to go") to go on their assignments; God's heavenly ministers are always eager to do His will, very much including when it comes to His work of judging. They know that His will is always right, good, and necessary.]] And He [["He" here and in the next verse refers to the "Lord of all the earth," who was mentioned in verse 5, but it isn't clear to me whether God the Father or God the Son (the Angel of Yahweh) speaks here in verses 7, 8; it isn't important for us to know which Person speaks here. I lean toward God the Father, but since the Angel of Yahweh speaks again in 6:15 (even as He spoke several times earlier in the book of Zechariah), He could be the One speaking here too.
The fact that verse 8 goes on to speak of the "wrath" of God, doesn't prove that God the Father is the One speaking here. Revelation 6:16, 17, for example, in a context dealing with the end-time judgment of the world, speaks of the wrath of God the Father and God the Son.]] said, 'Go, patrol the earth.' So they patrolled the earth. (8) Then He cried out to me and spoke to me saying, 'See, those who are going to the land of the north have appeased My wrath ["Lit 'caused My Spirit to rest' " (margin of NASB)] in the land of the north.' [[This account is quite brief. For one thing, it doesn't specifically mention any assignment(s) for the chariot with the red horses in verse 6. I assume that that chariot goes forth worldwide bringing warfare and bloodshed as part of God's end-time judgment of the world. On the color "red," see under Zech. 1:8.
The judgment of the "land of the north" (the "north country" Zech. 6:6) is given special prominence in this vision. Judah/Israel had problems with kingdoms/nations that came from the south (especially Egypt), but their greatest problems came from the north. That included the world-kingdoms of the Assyrians (cf., e.g., Isa. 14:31; Zeph. 2:13), Babylonians (cf., e.g., Jer. 1:13-15; 25:9) ((I had a footnote: These references demonstrate that Assyria and Babylon can be considered kingdoms of the "north," and there are other such verses.)), Greeks, Romans, and their greatest problem is yet to come out of the north through the revived Roman empire that will be ruled by Antichrist. If this eighth vision of Zechariah deals (at least for the most part) with God's end-time judgment of the world, which I believe it does, Antichrist's kingdom is the primary one in view here. Antichrist is the "king of the north" in Dan. 11:36-45. (Daniel 11:36-45 are discussed in chapter 9 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture."
I believe these verses (Zech. 6:5-8) show that God sends the most intense judgment against the land of the north, where the greatest judgment is needed. Verse 8 shows that God has wrath, undoubtedly special wrath, against the land of the north (because of their intense blasphemous attacks against Him, His people, His kingdom, even against the temple at Jerusalem). ((I had a footnote: The Babylonians destroyed the temple in Jerusalem in 587/586 BC. Antichrist will blaspheme God on a large scale (as long as God permits for His own purposes); he will even stop the sacrifices and demand worship in the temple that is to be rebuilt in Jerusalem. Antichrist's "abomination of desolation" will center in that temple. God had already judged Babylon through the Medo-Persians in the days of Zechariah and had permitted the exiles to return to Jerusalem and Judah, but His judgment against Antichrist's (and the devil's) Babylon is yet to come. Regarding "Babylon," see on Zech. 2:7; 5:11.))
Verse 6 shows that God sends the chariot with the "black" horses against the north country. I assume the black horses represent very intense judgment. The judgment associated with the black horses totally turns off their lights, so to speak. ((I had a footnote: Darkness (both symbolic/spiritual darkness and natural/physical darkness) is often associated with God's day(s) of judgment in the Bible. (This fact is documented in some detail in my paper on Genesis chapters 1-3.) Revelation 6:12, for example, which deals with God's end-time judgment of the world, mentions that "the sun became BLACK [my emphasis] as sackcloth made of hair....")) Then the chariot with the "white" horses, with white representing God's victory and purity, move in to establish His reign over that part of the world. (On "white" horses, see on Zech. 1:8.) Although this detail isn't mentioned (along with quite a few other details), I believe we are to understand that the chariot with the white horses will go to, and take over, the entire world before God is done with His end-time judgment of the world.
What about the chariot with the "dappled" horses sent forth to the south country (verse 6)? Dappled means spotted, speckled; I consider it probable that these horses were a mixture of black and white, which would fit the idea of less severe judgment than with the black horses. ((I had a footnote: There is widespread agreement that the Hebrew adjective (barod) translated "dappled" (by the NASB) is closely related to the Hebrew noun for hail (barad). The BDB Hebrew Lexicon suggests that the spotted, marked, or speckled condition resembles something (of a darker color) that has been sprinkled with hail (white). " 'Dappled' suggests white spots on a dark background" (L. Carl Laney, "Zechariah" [Moody Press, 1984], page 70). The same Hebrew noun was used in Gen. 31:10, 12 of "spotted" (NIV) goats. The "Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament" (by L. Koehler and W. Baumgartner, Study Edition [Brill, 2001], page 154) points out that Syriac (an Aramaic dialect that became the literary and liturgical language of the ancient Syrian Christian churches, which is a language similar to Hebrew) uses bareda for "speckled black and white." "Langenscheidt's Pocket Hebrew Dictionary to the Old Testament" says that the Hebrew adjective "barod" means "spotted, pied." ("Pied," according to Webster's Dictionary, means "covered with patches or spots of two or more colors; piebald.... "; "Piebald" means "covered with patches or spots of two colors; esp. with white and black....") )) I believe the idea is that less severe judgment is sent to the land of the south.
On God's "appeasing His wrath" through judgment, see Ezek. 5:1-17 (espec. 5:13); Ezek. 24:1-14 (espec. 24:13).]] (9) [[The eighth and last night vision ends with verse 8, but the prophetic passage that finishes chapter 6 seems to build on the eighth night vision, and it is closely related to much of the content of the eight night visions. For one thing, those who are far off that will come to help build the temple/house/kingdom in the last days (see Zech. 6:15) will not come until after God's end-time judgment of the world that is pictured in the eighth night vision. The exiles who came from Babylon to Jerusalem at that time (in Zechariah's day), who are spoken of in Zech. 6:9-14, prefigure those who will come to help build the temple/house/kingdom at the end of the age, after God's end-time judgment of the world. (Quite a few prophetic passages speak of the remnant of Judah/Israel that is scattered worldwide and of the remnant of the peoples of the nations worldwide coming to God at Jerusalem after His end-time judgment of the world.) The fact that Zech. 6:9-15 deal extensively with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Branch of Yahweh, the One who builds the ultimate temple/house/kingdom of God, makes these prophetic verses all the more important and interesting.]] The word of the LORD [Yahweh] also came to me [I prefer the translation of the NKJV, "Then (or, "And" KJV) the word of the LORD [Yahweh] came to me." This verse is exactly the same as Zech. 4:8 in the Hebrew.], saying, (10) 'Take [The NKJV has, "Receive the gift."] an offering from the exiles, from Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah; and you go the same day [[I prefer "on that day," which is a literal translation of the Hebrew. In the context of Zech. 6:9-11, the words "on that day" refer to the day the exiles arrive from Babylon.]] and enter the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah, where they have arrived from Babylon. [[There is quite a bit of confusion regarding how to translate the Hebrew of verse 10 (it's possible that we don't have the Hebrew text in its original form for this verse) and regarding a few details, but the overall meaning of verses 9-11 is clear enough. ((I had a two-paragraph footnote: The NIV has, "Take silver and gold from the exiles Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah, who have arrived from Babylon. Go the same day to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah." The translations of the KJV and NKJV are similar to the NIV. It isn't clear what role(s) Josiah the son of Jephaniah plays here. Apparently the three exiles were staying at his house. It is quite possible that Josiah made an offering at that time too. Some believe that verse 10 includes the idea that Josiah the son of Jephaniah had come from Babylon too. It is possible that Josiah the son of Zephaniah was the one to make the "ornate crown" of verse 11.
The Hebrew isn't easy for verse 10, but I suspect that much of the confusion regarding this verse has arisen because it has wrongly been assumed that the delegation had already arrived from Babylon when Zechariah received this prophetic word (which he apparently received the same night he received the eight visions). I suspect they hadn't arrived yet. (God would have known, of course, that these particular men were coming, and when they were coming, undoubtedly very soon after Zechariah received this revelation.) I suggest "on that day" refers to the day the exiles will arrive from Babylon. These verses don't make this point clear, but if the idea is correct that the exiles hadn't arrived yet, Zechariah would have clearly understood exactly what he was supposed to do. If this is the right idea, then the verb at the end of verse 10 would be translated something more like "where they will arrive from Babylon." This verb is in the perfect "tense" in the Hebrew, which would be most often translated something like "have arrived," but a translation of the perfect translated with an English future is quite common. There are, in fact, several examples in the verses that follow in Zechariah chapter 6, including "He will build" in verse 12 and "He will rule" and "He will be" in verse 13.))
Zechariah was instructed to take silver and gold from three Jewish exiles who make the trip from Babylon to Jerusalem with an offering to help rebuild the temple, and he was to make (have made) an ornate crown of silver and gold and to set the crown on the head of Joshua the high priest, which foreshadowed the crowning of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest (and the Great King) who will reign on the earth in the last days (including His end-time reigning in the millennial kingdom). Whatever role(s) Josiah the son of Zephaniah's played (see above), he was commended by God along with the other three (see verse 14).]] (11) Take silver and gold, make an ornate crown and set it on the head of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest. [[We have already discussed the important fact that Joshua the high priest served as a type for the coming Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. ((I had a footnote: See on Zechariah chapter 3. Joshua the high priest was all the more appropriate as a type for the Lord Jesus Christ in that the name "Jesus" derives from the Hebrew name "Joshua" (not that "Joshua" is the way that that name would be written or spoken in Hebrew, but it is the way we find the name written in many editions of the Bible). "The Aramaic Targum, the Jerusalem Talmud, and the Midrash all regard the verse [Zech. 6:12] as messianic. The words were addressed to Joshua; yet it is clear that the language refers to the messianic Branch" (Kenneth L. Barker, "Expositor's Bible Commentary," Vol. 7 [Zondervan, 1985], page 640).))
(We have also discussed the important fact that Zerubbabel served as a type for of the coming Great King, the Lord Jesus Christ.) For Zechariah to crown Joshua the high priest, at the direction of God, was for him to prophetically proclaim that the coming Great High Priest will also be the King reigning on His throne. Psalm 110 is a very important cross-reference in that it prophesies of Christ's ruling and of His being a priest (but not a Levitical priest). That significant psalm prophesies regarding Christ's end-time judgment of the world. (Psalm 110 is discussed in a verse-by-verse manner in chapter 19 of "The Mid-Week Rapture.")
The Lord Jesus Christ began to function as our Great High Priest (cf., e.g., Heb. 5:5, 6, 9, 10; 6:19, 20) and to reign after He was raised from the dead - He has all authority now (cf., e.g., Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-22; and Rev. 3:21), but it is not yet the Father's time for Him to come and reign on the earth, which will include the rapture of the true Christians, judging the world, and establishing peace on the earth (cf., e.g., 1 Cor. 15:23-28; Rev. 11:15-18; the reign spoken of in both passages will not begin until Christ returns to the earth in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, at the time of the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet of the book of Revelation). (First Corinthians 15:23-28 are discussed in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture" and in my paper on 1 Corinthians chapter 15 that is on my internet site and on this Christian article site; Revelation 11:15-18 are discussed in the book and in Article 7 of my "Twenty-Four Articles on the Mid-Week Rapture" that is available on my internet site and on this Christian article site.]] (12) Then say to him [to Joshua the high priest], "Thus says the LORD [Yahweh] of hosts, 'Behold, a man whose name is Branch ["Lit. 'Sprout' " (margin of NASB). Under Zech. 3:8 I noted that "Branch" is used several times in the Old Testament as a symbol for the coming Messiah/Christ.], for He will branch out ["Lit. 'sprout up' " (margin of NASB). His beginning among men was rather inconspicuous (cf. Isa. 53:2); He was even rejected by most of the Israelites; but ultimately all people will acknowledge His infinite glory.] from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD [Yahweh]. [[Even as the temple was rebuilt under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest in the days of Zechariah (cf. Hag. 1:12-15), the ultimate temple/house of Yahweh will be built by the Lord Jesus Christ. That ultimate temple/house is the kingdom of God, which includes the Christian church, and which culminates with the new heaven, new earth, and new Jerusalem that are pictured in the last two chapters of the Bible. Regarding His work of "building," see Zech. 1:16, 17; 2:1-13; and 4:6-10.]] (13) Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the LORD [Yahweh], and He who will bear the honor [or, splendor, majesty, glory] and sit and rule on His throne [[cf., e.g., Isa. 9:1-7; 11:1-10; Jer. 23:5, 6 (These prophetic passages, along with many other very important prophetic passages, are discussed in my papers that deal with selected prophecies from the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah on my internet site.)]]. Thus, He will be a priest [even the Great High Priest] on His throne, and the counsel of peace [Hebrew, "shalom"] will be between the two offices.' " [[God ordained the office of high priest (and priest) in the Mosaic Law, but the high priest was not a king, and he did not rule on a throne. God also provided the office of king for Israel in Old Testament days, starting with Saul, then David and his household. As I have pointed out, both offices were to be combined in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only One able to establish "peace" in Israel, throughout the earth, and throughout the universe.
To bring about peace requires fully solving the sin problem - people can't have peace with God, or with themselves, or with one another, or with the environment until the sin problem is solved, and Jesus Christ is the only One able to solve the sin problem and to totally remove sin from God's people and His kingdom. His solving the sin problem includes judgment that removes all the unrepentant from His kingdom. To fully establish peace in God's kingdom will require totally removing the devil, the evil angels, demons, and the people who continue to follow him. Christ's work of sanctifying/cleansing and judging has been spoken of throughout the preceding chapters of Zechariah, and these themes continue as the book of Zechariah continues with chapters 9-14. (Zechariah chapters 9-14 are discussed in some detail in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture.")]] (14) Now the crown will become a reminder in the temple of the LORD [Yahweh] to Helem, Tobijah, Jedaiah and Hen the son of Zephaniah. [[Here we learn that this special crown that Zechariah was to have made was to be kept in the temple as a reminder. It seems clear enough that "Hen the son of Zephaniah" here in verse 14 is the same person called "Josiah the son of Zephaniah" in verse 10; so too for "Helem" here in verse 14, who was called "Heldai" in verse 10.]] (15) Those who are far off will come and build the temple of the LORD [Yahweh].' [[The three Jews who came from Babylon to bring an offering to help rebuild the temple prefigure those who will come to build the ultimate temple of Yahweh, which is built by the Lord Jesus Christ. The repentant remnant of the Jews who are scattered throughout the earth will come to God at Jerusalem after His end-time judgment of the world. (This is a common prophetic theme; see under Zech. 2:6.) These words also undoubtedly include the remnant of the peoples of the nations (who are distinct from God's true Israel) who will come to God at Jerusalem after His end-time judgment of the world. (This too is a common prophetic theme [cf., e.g., Isa. 2:2-4; 60:4-17; and Hag. 2:6-9]; see under Zech. 2:9-11.) Taking these words in the fullest sense, they also include all who become Christians (whether Jews or Gentiles) throughout this present age; they are part of God's true Israel, and part of God's temple/house/kingdom (cf., e.g., Eph. 2:21, 22; Heb. 3:6; and 1 Pet. 2:5), and they have a part in building God's temple/house/ kingdom by the grace of God in Christ through faith.
The NASB has a quotation mark here in the middle of verse 15, but the NIV and NKJV don't have a quotation mark here; they put it at the end of verse 15. The NASB is assuming that Zechariah was the one speaking as verse 15 continues. Some commentators believe Zechariah was the one speaking here, but I agree with those commentators who believe the Angel of Yahweh spoke the words that follow in this verse, so I wouldn't put a quotation mark here in the middle of verse 15.]] Then you will know that the LORD [Yahweh] of hosts has sent me [Me] to you. [Zechariah 2:9-11; 4:9 suffice to convince me that the Angel of Yahweh (the One who had been sent by God the Father) is speaking here.] And it will take place if you completely obey the LORD [Yahweh] your God [referring to God the Father].' " [[Compare Deut. 28:1. To the extent we, God's people, don't fully obey God, we rob Him of glory and cause disorder in His kingdom. We can't alter His overall plan to have a new heaven and new earth with its new Jerusalem, but we can, in a worst-case scenario, forfeit our place in that eternal kingdom that is full of His glory.]]
We will continue this verse-by-verse study of Zechariah chapters 1-8 in Part 5, starting with Zechariah chapter 7.