Zechariah builds the House Meditations: 9. Spirit & Rule
Zech 6:1 I looked up again, and there before me were four chariots coming out from between two mountains—mountains of bronze.
Recap: The key things we’ve seen in these studies are a call to come to God, a reassurance that God is on our case, a reassurance that God will deal with those against us, a reassurance that God seeks to bless His people, a call to come and join in what He is doing and be in a place of security, a call to realise afresh what He has done in redeeming us, a reminder that everything we achieve is to be by the power, revelation and direction of the Holy Spirit, and a call to live holy, purified lives. There is yet one more vision to come in these visions of the night on this one day.
The Vision: “I looked up again, and there before me were four chariots coming out from between two mountains—mountains of bronze. The first chariot had red horses, the second black, the third white, and the fourth dappled—all of them powerful.” (6:1-3) Many have speculated different things about the parts of this picture, parts that are not explained in detail, so we will not join them, but simply note what is here.
Let’s start with the words “coming out from”. Now that may be simply describing coming from between the two mountains or it may suggest coming from behind. Both indicate moving from one place to another which will be shortly confirmed. Mountains can be obstacles or simply features of geographic note, mountains feature a lot in the Bible as places of significance. These two mountains (?law and grace?) seem to indicate a boundary, a big and strong (bronze) boundary. There are four chariots coming, not merely riders on horses. Chariots are used for warfare and subduing enemies and for proclaiming authority and victory. These are powerful, meaning will not brook resistance. They are different colors meaning they go to different regions for different purposes and there are four of them indicating the four corners of the earth or four points of the compass.
Explanation: As before the picture evokes a question in the prophet: “I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these, my lord?” (6:4) to which he is told, “These are the four spirits of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world. The one with the black horses is going toward the north country, the one with the white horses toward the west, and the one with the dappled horses toward the south.” (6:5,6) Four spirits indicate the one Holy Spirit, sent by the One described as “the Lord of the whole world.” We cannot but remember the prophetic description of Jesus, the one seated at his Father’s right hand, ruling in the midst of his enemies (Psa 110:1,2) where he reigns over the Fallen World bringing into existence the kingdom of God, subduing his enemies until the work is complete and he hands the kingdom to the Father (1 Cor 15:24,25 – note ‘he must reign’ meaning ‘ he must reign and rule over that entire period before he returns in glory at what we call the Second Coming).
Further Activity: “When the powerful horses went out, they were straining to go throughout the earth. And he said, “Go throughout the earth!” So they went throughout the earth. Then he called to me, “Look, those going toward the north country have given my Spirit rest in the land of the north.” (6:7,8) The Living Bible expresses that last part as, “Then the Lord summoned me and said, “Those who went north have executed my judgment and quieted my anger there.” The land of the north, as viewed from Jerusalem was thought to be Babylon. Put most simply, “My Spirit has fulfilled my work in the land you came back from.”
A New Word: Then comes a word that requires Zechariah to do three things. Observe: “The word of the Lord came to me: (i) “Take silver and gold from the exiles Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah, who have arrived from Babylon. (ii) Go the same day to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah. (iii) Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jozadak.” (6:9-11) i.e. first, there are three rich newcomers who have just returned who will want to contribute silver and gold. Receive it from them. Second, go to Josiah’s house, presumably with it. Was he a maker of fine jewelry? Third, make a crown that is to be set on the head of the high priest.
A New Approach: We’ve had a hint of this before but here it is spelled out in more detail: “Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord. It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.” (6:12,13) This is quite dramatic for this is a change of administration from before the Exile. Note the three things that come out here. Again Joshua is called ‘the Branch’. Before it wasn’t clear if it was him (3:8) but now it is clear it is, one who will spread out in influence and achievement, the one who will (with Zerubbabel) build the temple (to completion). Now here’s the big thing: there will no longer be a king over Israel, there will be a priest-king or priest ruler. The previous emphasis of a king used to include dominating over the people and fighting against enemies. The emphasis of the new administration is that it comes from the priest, from the presence of God. This cannot be over-emphasized – the rule and direction of Israel from now on is to come from the Temple, from the high priest as God’s representative; the day for kings is over!
There is a further instruction: “The crown will be given to Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah and Hen son of Zephaniah as a memorial in the temple of the Lord.” (6:14) The Message version makes and assumption: “The other crown will be in the Temple of God as a symbol of royalty, under the custodial care of Helem, Tobiah, Jedaiah, and Hen son of Zephaniah.” We suggest that may be true except it is where Joshua’s single crown is kept under their care.
Ongoing: “Those who are far away will come and help to build the temple of the Lord, and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. This will happen if you diligently obey the Lord your God.” (6:15) The Living Bible now makes an assumption: “These three who have come from so far away represent many others who will someday come from distant lands to rebuild the Temple of the Lord.” That’s quite good and may be true. Whether it is just the straight statement or the implication, one way or another, others in exile (probably in Babylon) will hear what is going on, understand the blessing of God is on this new administration and will come back as well, wanting to join in with all that is happening. It is yet a further indication of the blessing of Jerusalem and the people of God that is on God’s heart.
And us: Jesus is sometimes referred to as a prophet and priest and king: he was a prophet in that he declared the word of God and spoke of the future, he was a priest in that he was the intermediary between us and God, and he was a king in that he ruled over and brought in the kingdom of God in power. In that we, the Church, are his body (1 Cor 12:27) called to do the works of Jesus as he gifts, inspires and leads us, we too are called to be prophetic, speaking out the word of God for here and now and for the future (21 Pet 2:9). We are also called to be priests (a holy priesthood 1 Pet 2:5) and also called to rule with Christ (Eph 2:6,10) doing the things Christ did (Jn 14:12)
Although we may not be able to see it or understand it, Christ IS still ruling in the midst of the shambles that is sometimes this world, he IS still working out his purposes, the will of the Father, and he does still call us to follow him and that means doing and saying what he does and says in the ways we have just considered. If we are not, then we need to be on our knees before him asking both for forgiveness and a second chance to be the people he wants us to be, achieving what he wants achieved on the earth. May it be so.