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Lowell Brueckner

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God’s Spirit at Rest


An expository study of Zechariah 6:1-8

The eighth vision: The mission of the four chariots and horses

We come to a chronological end of the Old Testament with the books of Zechariah, Haggai, Ezra, Esther, Nehemiah and Malachi. If you are following this study of Zechariah in your Bible, you should have noticed that God is presented many times in the prophecy as the Lord of Hosts. He and His heavenly forces are warring in the affairs of men. We have seen angels mounted on horseback on reconnaissance missions (1:10), led by the majestic divine Angel of the Lord. It is all demonstrated in visions, according to the military system known in the time of Zechariah. They report situations that occur on earth and then, the Lord of Hosts dispatches military movements to carry out His will. They have to do with His purposes in the time of the prophet, but they also extend far into the future until the end of world history. The God of all the earth is also God of all time on the earth.

We will try to see and understand what Zechariah saw, as best we can, but we also can bring into play different portions of the Bible, in order to clarify principles and symbols that remain constant throughout the divine revelation. God is giving His people, in every century, the opportunity and privilege to know things, of which there are no other fountains of information on earth. Besides, He shares His feelings, speaking of His anger, jealousy, pleasure and comfort, showing us the reasons behind His actions. This can only stem from a desire to have intimacy with individuals, who care about how God feels (1:12-14; 2:8; 8:2).

Clearly, in chapter one, as the book begins, God opens His heart to His people. In verse 12, the Angel of the Lord prays to the Lord of Hosts and we will notice the little word ‘O’, which always signifies deep desires. The Angel is the Son of God, who exclaims, ‘O righteous Father’ in John 17:25 in a prayer that is meant for believers in the entire history of the church (John 17:20). In Paul’s letters to the churches, we can see how his writings reached and informed members to the end of time (1 Th.4:17; 2 Th.2:1-12; 1 Tim.4:1-3; 2 Tim. 3:1-9 and 4:3-4, for example).

Zechariah, inspired by the same Holy Spirit as Paul, lifts his eyes to see more heavenly things (v.1). The first vision took place in a low area where small myrtle trees grew. The Angel of the Lord prayed among His people, but in this vision we see two bronze mountains. The first vision depicted the Lord’s cavalry and now the revelation of His armies augments, including chariots.  

Elisha was present when a chariot and horses of fire came to take Elijah to heaven (2 Kg.2:11), but when the king of Syria came against him and surrounded his city, the mountains were covered with horses and chariots of fire (2 Kg.6:17). Matthew Henry said, “They are chariots of fire and horses of fire to carry one prophet to heaven and guard another on earth.” It seems to me it requires less chariots to take us to heaven than it does to guard us on earth. “The chariots of God are myriads, thousands upon thousands” (Ps.68:17). There’s no shortage!

The Apostle John saw the feet of the Son of Man as burnished bronze (Rev.1:15) and with those feet of bronze, He presents Himself to the church at Thyatira (Rev.2:18). He carries a message of judgment to them; in the Bible bronze symbolizes judgment. The horses leave the presence of God with a firm and unchangeable purpose.

The horses are red, black, white and dappled. In other places the red or sorrel horse stands for war, especially in Revelation 6:4. The black of Revelation speaks of bad times, of plagues, pestilence and famine (v.2).

The white horse is the horse of the conqueror and symbolizes victory. The last horse carries two adjectives that define it in Hebrew, strong and dappled. This word for strong cannot be found in any other part of the Bible. It is possible that this word applies to all the horses. Some translations see strong as the color of the horse… strong colored and dappled (v.3). The Hebrew word for dappled is called mottled, when applying to Jacob’s sheep and goats in Genesis 31:10. He had contracted with his uncle, Laban, to keep all the young of that color for himself. Then, he took fresh green rods of poplar and almond and peeled bark from them to expose the white wood. He put them before the strongest sheep at mating time, when they came to drink, and as a result the strongest lambs and kids were mottled.   

Mission accomplished; prayer answered

In verse four we have Zechariah’s tenth and final question, because in the middle of this chapter, the prophecy is going to change. From this point on to the end of the book, there will be revelations and no more visions. The angel reveals that Zechariah is observing the four spirits or winds (the word for wind or spirit is exactly the same in Hebrew) of heaven (v.5). They come before the Lord, who is called here the Lord of all the Earth: “Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire” (Heb.1:7). That which the writer of Hebrews quotes from Psalms 104:4 gives a short resume of what we are learning about the angels in Zechariah. They are spirits of fire that are sent from His presence to perform the will of God in all the earth, “according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph.1:11).

The black horses head for the north country and the white horses follow the blacks. The dappled are assigned to the work of God in the south country (v.6). In those times in Israel, the north country referred to Babylon. Babylon was already conquered by the Persians. That was now a matter of history, but what Zechariah sees is a matter of prophecy. Once more, he is transported to the end times to join with the events that the Apostle John saw.

The chariots and horses have gone out from presence of the Lord between the two mountains of judgment and the blacks are going to accomplish God’s work against the Babylon of Revelation. The whites are there to assure victory. “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird” (Rev.18:2). It proves that the “Temple of the Ephah” that we saw in the last chapter was a diabolical work.  

I prefer the interpretation of the adjective for the horses to be simply strong and not strongly colored. God describes the horse in Job 39:21-25: “He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength; he goes out to meet the weapons. He laughs at fear and is not dismayed; and he does not turn back from the sword. The quiver rattles against him, the flashing spear and javelin. With shaking and rage he races over the ground, and he does not stand still at the voice of the trumpet. As often as the trumpet sounds he says, ‘Aha!’ And he scents the battle from afar, and the thunder of the captains and the war cry.” Within them a nature stirs, which causes them to do what they were created to do; they are eager to perform it. However, in all cases, the Lord must order every step, which they are created to carry out with passion (v.7). Once again, their mission is to patrol the earth (1:11, as the eyes of the Lord, 4:10). The mission is in their blood and the Lord releases them for that purpose.

In chapter one, though there was peace on earth (1:11), the Angel of the Lord was not content with that situation (1:12) and He prayed that the Lord would have compassion for Israel. The Lord spoke of his jealousy for them and purposed to move against their enemies. Until the chariots moved against the north, Babylon, the Spirit of God had no rest. They did a work of propitiation that we see take place from time to time in the Bible, principally when Jesus went to the cross, as the propitiation for our sins. God’s wrath fell upon Him and then God was appeased. As we have mentioned, the Babylon of Zechariah’s day had fallen to the Persians, but there is a work to be done against the Babylon of the book of Revelation.

The Lord called to Zechariah and told him His sentiments (v.8). He wants this man, who sees that the things of God are important and is concerned about how the Lord feels, and not just his own feelings, to know that He is now at rest. What intimacy there is between them! Do we have it in our relationship with the Lord? I ask a direct question, because this is the Lord’s desire and it is important; we were created for this reason. The Son of God gave His life, to reconcile us with the Father.   

Now we can see how the prayer, offered among the myrtle trees, has moved heaven to bring about an answer. To have a High Priest at the right hand of the Father in heaven ought to fill us with great assurance. How many times, do you suppose, has the Father turned a deaf ear to His prayer?  


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