For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2002 James Melough

6:1.  “And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass.”

A careful study of this chapter indicates that it’s primary application is to the Tribulation era, a period very far distant when the revelation was given, but which is now imminent.

Four is the biblical number of earth and of testing, and brass is the biblical symbol of judgment; all of Scripture combining to declare that the Tribulation period will be the final and most terrible testing time this world has ever known.  It is of further significance that the word used here for chariots is specifically war chariot, and the Great Tribulation - the final three and a half years of the seven year Tribulation era - will be a time that will see the world engulfed in wars far more terrible than any that have ever been. 

Since a mountain is the biblical symbol of a king or kingdom, these two mountains may represent the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, the Tribulation period being the time that will bring the conflict between the two to a climax that will witness the defeat of the prince of this world, and the victory of the Prince of peace.

6:2.  “In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses;”

6:3.  “And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay (dappled) horses.”

It is instructive to note that in Re 6, relative to the Tribulation, we read also of four horses, the white horse there representing the Tribulation Beast ruler; the red horse representing war; the black horse, famine; and the pale horse, death.

6:4.  “Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord?”

6:5.  “And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.”

“... the four spirits of the heavens,” like the “seven spirits” of Re 4:5, have to be understood as referring, not to four or seven separate spirits, but to characteristics of the one Holy Spirit, see for example Isa 11:2 where the reference is to the sevenfold fullness of the one Holy Spirit, “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord....”

In the present context the “four spirits” represent the one Holy Spirit as the Divine Agent of judgment in the Tribulation.

6:6.  “The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country; and the white go forth after them; and the grisled (dappled) go forth toward the south country.”

Relative to the phrase “the white go forth after them,” some translations - the NEB, for example - render this “the white go to the far west.”

6:7.  “And the bay (red) went forth, and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth: and he said, Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth.  So they walked to and fro through the earth.”

Since the black horses went north; the white, west; and the dappled, south, it seems reasonable to conclude that these bay (red) horses went east, so that the picture is of the activity of the four chariots over the whole earth; and as noted already that activity appears to be related to the Tribulation judgments.

6:8.  “Then cried he upon me, and spake unto me, saying, Behold, these that go toward the north country have quieted my spirit in the north country.”

These were the black horses yoked to the first chariot, and the Amplified rendering of the latter part of the verse is, “have quieted My Spirit [of wrath] and have caused it to rest - rest is used here in the sense of stopping or settling, not of ceasing from activity - in the north country.”  Since the black horse of Re 6 represents famine, the inference may perhaps be made that the reference here is also to Divine judgment, in the form of famine, settling upon the north country.  The absence of any further details may justify the conclusion that the whole northern hemisphere is meant rather than one particular northern country.

The absence of any further reference to the activity of the other horses may be due to the fact that we are meant to interpret their activity also in relation to their color, and to the significance of that same color in Re 6.  Since therefore the white horse of Re 6 portrays the activity of the Beast emperor in the Tribulation, the activity of the chariot drawn by these white horses in the west may also speak of his activity in the western world. 

Since the red horse of Re 6 speaks of war, this chariot drawn by the red horses in the east may well speak also of war originating in the east; but as the prophetic Scriptures make clear, that war will ultimately engulf the whole world, and culminate in the conflict of Armageddon.  In this connection it is to be noted that at the time of writing the east is already seething with conflict which gives every indication of spreading rather than ending; and it is to be noted further that in the Tribulation a two hundred million man army will march from the east westward “to slay the third part of men,” Re 9:15-16.

This leaves only the chariot drawn into the south country by the dappled horses, and while the fourth horse of Re 6, and representing death, is described as pale, it may well be that these dappled horses also represent death.

The evil associated with each chariot, however, is not to be viewed as being confined to the region of the earth mentioned.  War, famine, death, and the activity of the Beast will affect the whole world in the Great Tribulation - the final half of that seven year era.

6:9.  “And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,”

6:10.  “Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah;”

This appears to be the symbolic revelation of what will follow the Tribulation: the exaltation and blessing of Israel and the nations in the Millennium.

“... them of the captivity” are those who had returned from Babylon, and the command to take from the three men mentioned is literally to accept donations or offerings from them.  It is believed by many that these three brought not only their own personal wealth, but that they acted as the agents of the Jews who had remained in Babylon and who desired to also contribute to the cost of the Temple being built.

Nothing is known of Josiah the son of Zephaniah, nor is there any obvious reason why the prophet was commanded to enter his house, unless he was a skilled worker in precious metals and therefore capable of making the composite crown mentioned in verse 11.

6:11.  “Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest;”

Some believe that two crowns were made, one of gold and the other of silver; others, that there was but one composite crown, one part gold, the other part silver, to be placed upon the head of Joshua the high priest.  A composite crown seems to be more fitted to what is written concerning this diadem.  Since gold speaks of glory; and silver, of redemption, the truth being declared is that Joshua, like every other high priest of Israel, is a type of Christ, but here crowned with the composite crown, he represents Christ as both Priest and King in the Millennium.

Verse 14 indicates that this crown was to be kept in the Temple as a memorial to the willing giving of Heldai (Helem), Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Josiah (Hen).  There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that Joshua wore it permanently, so it seems that it was  placed on his head briefly as the symbolic token of Christ’s millennial glory as King and Priest, and then kept in the Temple.

6:12.  “And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord:”

Joshua himself was not “the man whose name is The BRANCH,” but as crowned with the kingly and priestly crown, he was a type of the Lord Jesus Christ “the man whose name is The BRANCH,” God’S true Priest King, and presented also under the same figure in Isa 4:2; 11:1; Jer 23:5; 33:15, and Zech 3:8.  The BRANCH is a particularly fitting type of Christ, for the word in the original is associated with greenness, abundant fruitfulness, springing up out of the ground, as did the Lord in resurrection as the corn of wheat that had fallen into the ground and died.

“... his place” is ambiguous and may refer to the Lord’s having grown up in Nazareth, or perhaps to His having risen up out of the place of death which He had entered in order to make God’s gift of eternal life available to believing men.

The prophet was occupied with the literal Temple being built by Zerubbabel, but God here bade him look forward to a greater: that which the Lord would build out of living stones, 1 Pe 2:5: men who would trust Him as Savior during this present Church age which began on the day of Pentecost, and that will be complete at that instant when He will come to the air, and by resurrection and translation, rapture all of them home to heaven.  The building of that mystical temple going on today, however, doesn’t preclude also the application of this verse to the literal glorious millennial Temple of which all the other literal temples are but types.

It is instructive also to note in connection with that mystical temple which the Lord is building today, that we the living stones who constitute it, are also “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light,” 1 Pe 2:9

6:13.  “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.”

MacDonald, quoting David Baron, writes, “Surely it is in keeping with the Royal Priesthood of Messiah, that the Hebrew word used here (for temple) means both palace and sanctuary.  As King He has entered into His palace, and as Priest into His sanctuary.”

The reference continues to be to the Lord Jesus Christ as the One Who, through the Holy Spirit, is today building the mystical spiritual Temple, the Church, and Who in the Millennium will build the glorious literal Temple, but using human hands to do the actual work.  During the Millennium He will sit upon the throne of heaven crowned with glory and honor, combining in Himself the two offices of Priest and King, while His regent, a literal descendant of David, will sit upon the earthly throne in Jerusalem, the office of priest being filled by a descendant of Zadok, see Eze 44:15-16; 48:11.

That Christ will not be sitting literally on the throne in Jerusalem during the Millennium is made clear in Eze 46:2,12 where instructions are given relative to the presentation of the worship of the prince who will occupy the throne during that thousand year era.  Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity.  He does not worship: He is worshiped, though it is necessary to point out what is largely ignored by many Christians today: worship is to addressed to the Father, in the name of the Son, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.  To address prayer to any Member of the Godhead, other than the Father, is to ignore the Divine order, and create confusion.

“... and the counsel of peace shall be between them both” is explained in the Amplified translation, “... He shall bear the honor and 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 the two offices [Priest and King].”

6:14.  “And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the Lord.”

As has been discussed in our study of verse 11, the crown seems to have been kept in the Temple after having been placed briefly on Joshua’s head since there is no record of his having worn it  other than on that one special occasion.

I regret having no explanation for the substitution of the name Helem for Heldai; and of Hen for Josiah.  Helem means a dream: robust; Heldai, my times; Hen, favor: grace; and Josiah, he will be sustained of Jehovah, but these meanings shed no light on the matter.

Their being “for a memorial” is usually understood to be that the dual or composite crown would be there in the Temple as a continual reminder of the generosity and faithfulness of the three men mentioned.

6:15.  “And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the Lord, and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you.  And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.”

The reference here may certainly be to those who might come from Babylon and Assyria, to which the Jews had been carried captive, but it is much more likely that the allusion is to those who will be gathered back to Palestine at the beginning of the Millennium, the Diaspora of AD 70 having scattered them amongst the Gentiles in virtually every corner of the earth where they remain to this day, except for those who have returned and continue to return to the land since the restoration of Israel’s autonomy in 1948.

Those who might come to build the Temple then under construction, would authenticate Zechariah’s words to that generation; and those who will return after the Tribulation will be the verification of the prophet’s credentials to the millennial generations: his words, like those of every true prophet, are the immutable words of Jehovah, applicable to every generation, and to none more so than to this present one.  Well might Peter write, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts,” 2 Pe 1:19.

The final sentence warns that obedience is the prerequisite of blessing.  Israel could have entered into that blessing two thousand years ago, but she rebelled, not only against the words of the prophets, but against the living Word Himself when He stood in her midst, crucifying Him at Calvary, as the prophets had foretold they would, and by that consummate act of rebellion she has forfeited the blessing Jehovah is so anxious to bestow upon her.  It will take the impending terrible Tribulation judgments to bring her to repentance and obedience, apart from which blessing is impossible, for God will never bless disobedience.  And what is true of Israel is true of every individual.  He who would enjoy God’s blessing must obey Him.

[Zechariah 7]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough