Zechariah 6 Commentary
Zechariah 6 starts with another vision. This is the eighth and final vision. This vision serves as a connector to the first. The horses that are in the first vision are shown in this vision. This vision shows us the quick judgment that comes upon Babylon.
Zechariah 6:1 – Again I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, four chariots came out from between two mountains. And the mountains were mountains of bronze.
Here comes the war. Chariots symbolize war. In the previous vision, the sins went out of Israel (physical and spiritual) and were taken to Babylon. Now that the sin is in the world, God is declaring war on the sin.
The mountains could have a dual meaning. It could be the physical placement of the mountains as many think they are Mount of Olives and Mount Zion. But the Lord calling these mountains of “bronze” or, in some translations, “brass,” means that they hold symbolic meaning as well. Typically we see the color bronze used with strength.
Putting the strength of the mountains together with the chariots and we see both strength and judgment.
The reasoning behind the physical mountains is because it is the actual Kidron Valley. That is the place that Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe will be the place of final judgment.
Zechariah 6:2 – The first chariot had red horses, the second black horses,
The horses, as we will see, match up to the horses seen in Zechariah 1 with one exception. There is the addition of a black horse.
In Zechariah 1 we see that the horses are on reconnaissance. In this, we see that the horses are hooked up to chariots. This means that we are seeing these horses coming in war, not reconnaissance.
These horses are pretty much the same as the horses as in the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Revelation 6:4 – And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.
Then again in Revelation 6:5 – When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand.
The black horse talks about troubled times and famine.
Zechariah 6:3 – the third white horses, and the fourth chariot dappled horses—all of them strong.
White horses are typically peaceful. The dappled horses are typically mixed times of peace and adversity.
At the end of the day, it is God whose plans are made a reality. Man can plan how this world will move forward, but God’s plan is true. It is timeless. And the strength of these horses show that man cannot have an impact on the mission of these horses.
Zechariah 6:4 – Then I answered and said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?”
Again, as we have seen throughout the book, Zechariah is confused and asking for wisdom. This is the wisdom that can only come from God alone.
Zechariah 6:5 – And the angel answered and said to me, “These are going out to the four winds of heaven, after presenting themselves before the Lord of all the earth.
The symbolism here is the four corners of the world. Similar to the four kingdoms in the book of Daniel, these horses go out to the entire world.
These angels are to present themselves before the “Lord of all the earth.” This is the millennial title of Christ.
Zechariah 6:6 – The chariot with the black horses goes toward the north country, the white ones go after them, and the dappled ones go toward the south country.”
Now this is going to get a little deep. If we look directly at the historical significance of these horses in the physical realm, we can match up the horses to different times in history. The red horse, which isn’t mentioned here, has already occurred. The red horse was the time of the Chaldeans. That empire was already gone, so there is no mention of that horse here.
The black horse was Cyrus. He destroyed the Chaldeans and his kingdom is called “the north” in much of Scripture.
The white horse comes after Cyrus, which is Alexander. He was a fairly peaceful ruler. Which makes sense he would get the white horse.
The dappled horses could be the Egyptian rulers which were had some that were peaceful and others that were cruel.
Israel’s enemies came from the north and south. Babylon and Egypt. God is calling the judgment upon those areas.
Zechariah 6:7 – When the strong horses came out, they were impatient to go and patrol the earth. And he said, “Go, patrol the earth.” So they patrolled the earth.
Who are the strong horses? Rome? Could be. It could also be any of the other kingdoms that strived to go well beyond their boundaries such as the Huns or the Goths or the Vandals.
These horses are told to go an walk to and fro through the earth. This means they have subdued the earth so that they can comfortably go through the world.
Zechariah 6:8 – Then he cried to me, “Behold, those who go toward the north country have set my Spirit at rest in the north country.”
This is most likely a millennial statement. God’s spirit of wrath won’t rest until the Messiah is on the throne. This is looking forward to Revelation 17 – 20.
Zechariah 6:9 – And the word of the Lord came to me:
In Scripture, one of the ways that prophets typically close out their visions is by giving focus to God. Zechariah is no different. He said that the Word of the Lord came to him. This is the moment that the topic moves from the vision itself to the word that God is giving Zechariah about the visions.
Zechariah 6:10 – “Take from the exiles Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah, who have arrived from Babylon, and go the same day to the house of Josiah, the son of Zephaniah.
There are a ton of names here. Each of those names have meanings, as did most names from that day. Heldai is one of the exiles who returned from captivity and his name is based off the word cheled which means worldliness. Tobijah is another man from exile and his name means God is my good. Jedaiah is another formerly exiled man and his name means God has known.
Those three former exiles are to go immediately to Josiah. We don’t really know who this person is other than it is at his house they are crowning Joshua.
An interesting thing is that the name Josiah means God saves. While I am not sure it really works like this, these people were exiled in Babylon, in the world (Heldai). But God’s goodness knows what the exiles needed (Tobijah and Jedaiah)….saving from God (Josiah).
Zechariah 6:11 – Take from them silver and gold, and make a crown, and set it on the head of Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest.
It is interesting to note here that when Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BC, he allowed the Jews to go back to their homeland. When they arrived, they had joint leadership under Zerubbabel and Joshua. Throughout the history of Israel, God has commanded that the civil and the ceremonial leadership should be separate. Zerubbabel maintained the civil law while Joshua maintained the ceremonial.
The question here is why would they be putting a crown on the head of the high priest? This is not a normal thing. The only time we saw the two offices intermingle was in 2 Chronicles with Uzziah and it brought his death to him.
An interesting note is that Joshua is basically the same name as Jesus. This is most definitely a call out to the Messiah Jesus Christ. When Christ comes He will rule completely. This is a foreshadowing of the one to come from the Davidic line, Jesus the Christ.
Zechariah 6:12 – And say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord.
In the next 4 verses, we learn a lot about Jesus Christ. First, we learn the Jesus will come from Israel and that He will build a temple.
While the crown was placed on the head of Joshua, they are calling out the Branch (capitalized), meaning Jesus the Christ.
Mark 14:58 – “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’”
John 2:21 – But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
John 15:5 – I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Zechariah 6:13 – It is he who shall build the temple of the Lord and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on his throne. And there shall be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”’
I am very confused by the various translations of this verse and, although I do most of my work from the ESV, I am not impressed with the translation of this verse in the ESV. Many other versions have the following:
Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”
When you read other translations, it is very easily seen as a singular person who is taking the role of both ruler and priest. When you read the ESV, it seems as though there are two separate people in this role.
As I believe this is a millennial verse that would go along with the others, I have to believe that this, too, is a millennial verse. If it is, then we learn several things about Christ here. First, we see the Lord’s glory. Next we see that He will be both king and priest. And finally in this verse we see that there will be peace.
Zechariah 6:14 – And the crown shall be in the temple of the Lord as a reminder to Helem, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Hen the son of Zephaniah.
This crown that was given to Joshua is meant to be kept in the temple as a memorial to those who returned from exile.
This is a verse to speak to the faithful in Christ receiving the crown of glory.
The name “Hen” means gracious and is evidently another name for Josiah, who is being gracious himself.
Zechariah 6:15 – “And those who are far off shall come and help to build the temple of the Lord. And you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. And this shall come to pass, if you will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.”
The next thing we learn about Christ is that God is opening His kingdom to the Gentiles, that we will know that this is from the Lord, and that it requires our obedience.
1 Peter 2:5 – you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:13-22 – But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Zechariah 8 Commentary
Zechariah 8:1 – And the word of the Lord of hosts came, saying,
As we have seen before, this tells us that we have yet another message coming from God.
Zechariah 8:2 – “Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath.
The word “jealous” is typically used when God is telling of something that He is intensely passionate about. Some translations use the phrase “zealous.” In Exodus 20:5, we learn that God is jealous and will not tolerate anything rivaling His glory. This phrase is being used to show that He is passionate about restoring his covenant with His people.
The phrase “Thus says the Lord” is in this chapter of Zechariah 10 times. When we see this phrase, it is to stress the promises God has made with His people.
Zechariah 8:3 – Thus says the Lord: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain.
I find it interesting that some versions of the Bible call Jerusalem a “city of truth” and the ESV calls it the “faithful city.” While they can be used to mean similar things, reading it without context can lead to confusion.
A faithful city is one that will be faithful to the Lord. Yes, that does include the truth of God’s Word and love, but I think that we can easily pass by that word in the Bible in our 21st century American minds. When I read other versions and see “city of truth” I perceive a city that is ruled by God and their words and their actions are both based on the truth of God alone.
I believe the phrase “city of truth” needs to be used here rather than “faithful city” because of the tie it has to verse 16. This would make this chapter more consistent with the rest of the book.
We also see in this verse the “holy mountain,” which ties back to Isaiah 6:3. The mountain is holy because God is there.
We need to remember that simply returning from captivity did not end the sin that God’s people would do. This is more prophetic than historical in nature. The sin won’t come to an end until the Savior returns a second time.
Zechariah 8:4 – Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age.
Think of what those who were in captivity returned to. Jerusalem’s walls were all destroyed and they were coming back to a city that was a ghost of what it once was.
Between this verse and the next, we see that God is promising to have the city be vibrant once again.
Zechariah 8:5 – And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.
There would be families once again growing in Jerusalem. The Targum (a spoken translation of the Tanakh, or the Scriptures, in a language for the common people) says that instead of playing in the streets, these children will be singing or praising God in the spaces of the city.
Children are seen to be a blessing from God. With these same children playing in the streets, they have nothing to fear. Peace has come to Jerusalem.
Zechariah 8:6 – Thus says the Lord of hosts: If it is marvelous in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, should it also be marvelous in my sight, declares the Lord of hosts?
The people must have marveled at being called home. I am sure that the captives were struggling to not lose hope, but the situation that they were in must have seemed hopeless.
This one act, bringing God’s people home, was a miracle that only God could make happen!
Zechariah 8:7 – Thus says the Lord of hosts: Behold, I will save my people from the east country and from the west country,
This is a very interesting verse! Think of this in terms of history. The Israelites were taken captive to the north. The western scattering didn’t happen until the first century AD! At this point, there were no Jews in the western world.
I really believe there are two different ways to look at this verse: physical and spiritual. In the physical sense, east and west could mean the entire world. Think of Deuteronomy 30:3: “That then the Lord your God will turn your captivity, and have compassion on you, and will return and gather you from all nations where the Lord has scattered you.”
In the spiritual sense, God is speaking of the salvation that is offered to the entire world. Think of verses like Malachi 1:11 or 1 Timothy 4:10.
Zechariah 8:8 – and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.”
When I read this verse, I immediately think of Hebrews 8:10: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them on their hearts: and I will be to them a God and they shall be to me a people.”
But then I realize that the verse in Hebrews is reverse of this. In this verse, the people must want to be God’s before He will be theirs.
This is one of the most important promises in all of Scripture! Imagine the awesome time we will have with God being our God and us being His people! This is both physical and spiritual. It isn’t just for Jews. It is for all.
Zechariah 8:9 – Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Let your hands be strong, you who in these days have been hearing these words from the mouth of the prophets who were present on the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.
God is talking about the building of the temple in this case. He is encouraging His people to get the temple built. The foundation of the temple had been laid over 15 years before this was written. As we will see in the upcoming verses, the were running out of money and they were facing opposition.
But one can’t help but think about Ephesians 6:10 in this: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”
Zechariah 8:10 – For before those days there was no wage for man or any wage for beast, neither was there any safety from the foe for him who went out or came in, for I set every man against his neighbor.
This is a backward look at a forward promise. God is telling them that where they came from was very poor in condition compared to where He is about to bring them to.
Zechariah 8:11 – But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as in the former days, declares the Lord of hosts.
God is not going to allow the same fate to happen to this remnant that He did to the people before.
Zechariah 8:12 – For there shall be a sowing of peace. The vine shall give its fruit, and the ground shall give its produce, and the heavens shall give their dew. And I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.
This verse and the next show the depth of God’s promises to His people. God is about to reverse the curses from Deuteronomy 28 and Jeremiah. Let’s look closer at this.
There will be a sowing of peace. Most other versions have listed “the seed shall be prosperous.” I think I like the other versions more than the ESV again in this. Simply saying that there is a sowing of peace doesn’t show the countering of Haggai 1:6 in which there would be sowing and it wouldn’t come to much.
Then we see that the vine will give her fruit and the ground shall give its produce. This is a counter to Haggai 1:11 in which there was a drought.
The heavens will give their dew. Again, we are countering Haggai 1:11 in which the drought was prevalent.
Zechariah 8:13 – And as you have been a byword of cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing. Fear not, but let your hands be strong.”
Both Judah and Israel are brought back. Unified. God is not going to have them be a curse among the nations, but a blessing. A couple of verses to think about for this:
Genesis 12:2 – And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
Then another one that speaks to this, after Jesus was resurrected,
Galatians 3:28-29 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave to free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.
Zechariah 8:14 – For thus says the Lord of hosts: “As I purposed to bring disaster to you when your fathers provoked me to wrath, and I did not relent, says the Lord of hosts,
So for the idolatry, abominations, and sins of the fathers, God brought disaster to His people. He didn’t end the relationship, however. As these are His sons and daughters, He wanted them simply to turn back. His people needed punishment.
Zechariah 8:15 – so again have I purposed in these days to bring good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; fear not.
God has forgiven them and has chosen now to bless them. Just as in Isaiah 14:24 we see that whatever God plans He does, the same can be said here. The time for fear has passed. The time for abundant faith and blessing has come.
Zechariah 8:16 – These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace;
As in all other times, the blessings come with obedience. We can’t expect to see God’s blessings if we choose to be disobedient. We see similar words in Psalm 15:1-5 when David asks who can live on the holy hill.
To stay under God’s blessing, these need to be a people who will speak the truth and execute honest judgment. Ephesians 4:25 tells us to speak truthfully to our neighbor and to put away our lying.
Zechariah 8:17 – do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the Lord.”
Our hearts determine who we are. Our character. Anything that runs counter to God’s Law is hated by God. Just as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 we are to take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ.
Zechariah 8:18 – And the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying,
We are about to get a new message. This is one that includes us Gentiles in it as part of the promises.
Zechariah 8:19 – “Thus says the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth and the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth shall be to the house of Judah seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace.
The fasts that are listed, which were to commemorate the destructions and/or deaths of others, are now to be feasts that are joyful times to celebrate what the Lord has done for the remnant returning.
Zechariah 8:20 – “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities.
This tells us that people from all over the different cities will be coming to Jerusalem. I like to think that this is foreshadowing the travels of Paul. Paul traveled all over the place and the people he came in contact with became part of the family. This is the same family that God is talking about in this verse.
Zechariah 8:21 – The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.’
The people from the other cities will come to seek the Lord. These Gentiles care about each other. This reminds me of John 13:35 where Jesus tells His disciples that people will know they are His by the love they show one another. The fact that these Gentiles are going to each other to help them seek Christ shows that love that Jesus is talking about.
Zechariah 8:22 – Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord.
This is very exciting! People from all around the world will come to seek God and to pray to Him. Galatians 3:8 says that God justifies the heathen through faith and that all nations are blessed.
Zechariah 8:23 – Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”
Ok, here’s a question. Why “ten?” Typically when ten nations is used in a verse it stands for the world governments. This means that the world will be seeking Christ. The Gospel was given to the Jew first, then the Gentile. But God is available for all nations.
Revelations 7:9-10 – After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, all kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.
I really appreciate you sharing this!