Chariots of God Safeguard Coronation
1. Are the chariots seen in Zechariah’s eighth vision those brought up from Egypt?
CHARIOTS make their appearance in the eighth and final vision given to the prophet Zechariah. These chariots are not any brought up from Egypt for the protection of the temple builders at Jerusalem in that year of the vision, 519 B.C.E., or the second year of the reign of King Darius I of Persia. The higher source of these more powerful chariots is revealed in the vision. Let us watch with Zechariah as they dash on the scene:
2. From between what did the chariots come forth, how many were there, and by what kind of horses were they drawn?
2 “Then I raised my eyes again and saw; and, look! there were four chariots coming forth from between two mountains, and the mountains were copper mountains. In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot, black horses. And in the third chariot there were white horses; and in the fourth chariot, horses speckled, parti-colored.”—Zechariah 6:1-3.
3. What do the colors of the horses serve to do, and what question comes up as to the mountains?
3 We need not make guesses as to what the differentiating colors of the horses mean. The colors of the horses served to distinguish the chariots pulled by each color group. How many horses were hitched to each chariot, Zechariah does not tell us. But those two copper mountains from between which the four chariots come forth—what do they represent? They certainly do not picture the mountain height of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives right to its east. What they stand for becomes clear from what Zechariah is now told:
4. From where does the angel say that the chariots come forth?
4 “And I proceeded to answer and say to the angel who was speaking with me: ‘What are these, my lord?’ So the angel answered and said to me: ‘These are the four spirits of the heavens that are going forth after having taken their station before the Lord of the whole earth.’”—Zechariah 6:4, 5.
5. Who is “the Lord of the whole earth,” and why did the four chariots take their stand before him?
5 Aha! not material war chariots from the flatlands of Egypt are these, but they are visionary chariots, symbolizing the “four spirits of the heavens that are going forth after having taken their station before the Lord of the whole earth.” And who is that “Lord of the whole earth”? (Zechariah 4:14) It is Jehovah of armies. (Micah 4:13) And where is he located? In the heavens, in his holy spiritual temple. It is before Him that these four symbolic chariots present themselves, taking their stand respectfully before Him to receive their official commission, their assignments with respect to the earth of which He is the Lord. After that they emerge from between the two symbolic copper mountains.
6. Scripturally, what do the two copper mountains picture?
6 These two mountains of copper must accordingly picture mountains of God. That is to say, governmental organizations of God. This is not surprising, for in the Holy Scriptures mountains are used as the symbols of royal governments, kingdoms. For example, God’s angel said to the Christian apostle John concerning the seven-headed wild beast that carried the harlot, Babylon the Great: “The seven heads mean seven mountains, where the woman sits on top. And there are seven kings.” (Revelation 17:9, 10) So the one copper mountain would picture the personal kingdom of Jehovah God in which he reigns as Universal Sovereign. The second copper mountain would represent the Messianic kingdom that Jehovah establishes in the hands of his only-begotten Son, Messiah Jesus.
7. (a) That second mountain was seen by Daniel in vision as coming into existence in what way? (b) When and how does the fulfillment of its work take place?
7 This second copper mountain is the one seen in a dream by King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon just eighty-seven years before this eighth vision to Zechariah. This was at first the stone that was cut out of a large mountain without hands and that then struck and crushed the political image of Gentile domination of all mankind, after which that symbolic stone grew and became a large mountain that filled the whole earth. Explaining this mountain to be a picture of the Messianic kingdom of God’s Son, Daniel said: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” (Daniel 2:35, 44, 45) That Messianic kingdom was “cut out” in the year 1914 C.E., at the close of the Gentile Times, and in the oncoming “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon, it will clear the earth of all these Gentile governments.
8. When did these chariots come forth from between the two symbolic mountains, and how does their being of copper comport with what they symbolize?
8 Consequently, after the Gentile Times ended in early autumn of 1914 C.E., there were two symbolic “copper mountains,” namely, Jehovah’s royal government of His universal sovereignty and the Messianic kingdom of his royal Son Jesus Christ. So it is from between these two heavenly governments that the four symbolic “chariots” come forth. Evidently they came forth in the postwar year of 1919 C.E., when the remnant of spiritual Israel was released from Babylon the Great and went to work at building up the theocratic worship of Jehovah God at his spiritual temple. Anciently, copper was a noble metal like gold and silver, and it was used in Jehovah’s sacred tabernacle of worship and also in the temple at Jerusalem. Appropriately, then, the noble quality of the copper of the two symbolic mountains represented the noble quality as well as the weighty stability of Jehovah’s kingdom of universal sovereignty and of his Messianic kingdom by his Son.
9. How is it that the four chariots are said to be the “four spirits of the heavens,” and what service do these render?
9 How can it be that the four chariots pulled by sets of horses of different colors are “the four spirits of the heavens”? (Zechariah 6:5) It is because, in the fulfillment of the prophetic vision, they are angelic spirit forces, who have access to the presence of the heavenly “Lord of the whole earth.” Jehovah is the One “making his angels spirits.” (Psalm 104:1-4; Hebrews 1:7) He being “Jehovah of armies,” he can use these angels as in a military capacity for the protection of his chosen people. As Jesus Christ said to the apostle Peter before a mob in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father to supply me at this moment more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53) Since these “four spirits of the heavens” are pictured by horse-drawn war chariots, they picture bands of heavenly angels who are commissioned by their heavenly Commander in Chief to protect His people on earth during the time of rebuilding His temple of worship at Jerusalem.
10. Where do the chariot-drawing horses go on their respective assignments?
10 Where, then, is it that (1) the red horses, (2) the black horses, (3) the white horses, and (4) the speckled, parti-colored horses go forth on assignment? In answer, the angel explained to Zechariah regarding the movements of the four chariots: “‘As for the one in which the black horses are, they are going forth to the land of the north; and as for the white ones, they must go forth to behind the sea [literally, ‘after them’; that is, to their own rear]; and as for the speckled ones, they must go forth to the land of the south. And as for the parti-colored ones, they must go forth and keep seeking where to go, in order to walk about in the earth.’ Then he said: ‘Go, walk about in the earth.’ And they began walking about in the earth.”—Zechariah 6:6, 7.a
11. (a) Why do the red horses seem to be overlooked? (b) What assignments do the other horses respectively have, and in what behalf?
11 The “red horses” seem to be overlooked here; but this seeming oversight may be because they have already finished their assignment of military patrol duty. The black horses go to the “land of the north,” that is to say, to territory formerly that of Babylonia. The white horses go their way westward, the direction opposite from what they were facing (the sunrising). The speckled, parti-colored horses appear to have a double assignment, namely, “the land of the south” (toward Africa, including Egypt) and to reconnoiter the remaining open country, the eastern parts not covered by the other chariots. Jehovah’s angel told all the chariots to go to their assignments respecting the various quarters of the earth. Obediently they did so, to safeguard God’s people in Judah.
12. Of what force is this vision to those restoring pure worship, and what scriptures do they have in mind?
12 What a comfort such import of this vision must have been to the temple builders in Zechariah’s day! They did not have to worry about violent interference from their enemies to stop their work on the house of Jehovah’s worship. How strengthening and heartening this is, too, for the anointed remnant of spiritual Israel today while they are engaged in restoring to the fullest extent the pure, undefiled worship of the Sovereign Lord of the whole earth at his spiritual temple! They confide in the divine promise: “The angel of Jehovah is camping all around those fearing him, and he rescues them.” (Psalm 34:7) By faith they see what the eyes of the prophet Elisha’s attendant at besieged Dothan were opened miraculously to see: “The mountainous region was full of horses and war chariots of fire all around Elisha.”—2 Kings 6:17.
13. As the chariots go forth on patrol duty, what does Jehovah say about the black horses as respects his spirit?
13 The eighth and last vision to the prophet Zechariah closes as he sees and hears Jehovah’s approval expressed as the military patrol work of the four symbolic chariots proceeds. Zechariah tells us: “And he proceeded to cry out to me and speak to me, saying: ‘See, those going forth to the land of the north are the ones that have caused the spirit of Jehovah to rest in the land of the north.’”—Zechariah 6:8.
14. How was danger shown to exist in that “land of the north” even in the days of King Darius I of Persia?
14 The expression “the land of the north” refers to Babylonia. (Jeremiah 25:8, 9) Even during the reign of King Darius I of Persia there was danger from that quarter. As indicative of this, we read in the book “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules! page 376, the following history:
. . . This is, of course, not Darius the Mede, but King Darius I the Persian, who began ruling the empire in 522 B.C.
In that year Darius I had to move against Babylon and its local ruler (Nidintu-Bel), who had taken the name of Nebuchadnezzar III. Darius defeated him in battle and shortly afterward captured him and killed him at Babylon, which had tried to assert its independence. After that Darius I was recognized as king of Babylon till September, 521 B.C.E. Then Babylon revolted under the Armenian Araka, who took the name of Nebuchadnezzar IV. Thus Darius had to reconquer the Babylonians. After the city had been taken by storm that same year, he entered Babylon as conqueror. The old tradition was thus broken, namely, that Babylon’s god Bel was the one to confer on a man the right to rule that part of the earth; and Darius the conqueror ceased to acknowledge such a false claim. What a blow for Bel or Marduk! This time, after the Persians took the city, they did not deal with it leniently, as Cyrus had dealt with it.—See also page 317, paragraph 1.
15. What was the chariot with the black horses sent to the “land of the north” thus preventing, and how did they thus cause “the spirit of Jehovah to rest in the land of the north”?
15 Thus the repatriated Jews in the land of Judah did not come again under the domination of Babylon, which had destroyed the first temple of Jehovah at Jerusalem and which “did not open the way homeward even for his prisoners.” (Isaiah 14:17) After this, also, Jehovah’s symbolic chariot that went to the “land of the north” kept the rebellious Babylonians from successfully revolting and from again enslaving the liberated Jews and interfering with the building of the second temple of Jehovah. That is how the chariot and horses going to the north already “have caused the spirit of Jehovah to rest in the land of the north.” Their faithful safeguarding work up there quieted His spirit up north and was an assurance that all the other chariots and horses in other quarters of the earth would safeguard God’s temple work.
16. What grand assurance does this give to Jehovah’s liberated witnesses?
16 How grand an assurance this is today to Jehovah’s liberated worshipers at his spiritual temple. Under protection of the symbolic chariots of Jehovah they will never again be conquered by Babylon the Great and all her political paramours!
A CROWN FOR THE TEMPLE-BUILDING HIGH PRIEST
17. Zechariah is now told to come into the house of Josiah with whom from Babylon, and to do what in that place?
17 The series of eight visions on that memorable twenty-fourth day of the eleventh lunar month (Shebat) of the year 519 B.C.E. had now ended, and the prophet Zechariah was directed to events visible to the natural eye in the land of Judah. Look! Here come three new arrivals from Babylon and (as it seems) Josiah the son of Zephaniah takes them to his home in Jerusalem for entertainment. Who are those three men, and what are they bringing with them? The spirit of prophecy identifies them to Zechariah: “And the word of Jehovah continued to occur to me, saying: ‘Let there be a taking of something from the exiled people, even from Heldai and from Tobijah and from Jedaiah; and you yourself must come in that day, and you must come into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah with these who have come from Babylon. And you must take silver and gold and make a grand crown and put it upon the head of Joshua the son of Jehozadak the high priest.’”—Zechariah 6:9-11.
18. Why was there no objection to Zechariah’s taking part of the silver and gold and performing a prophetic act?
18 Likely the prophet Zechariah did not use all the silver and gold that Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah, as a delegation, brought as a contribution from the Jews still in exile in Babylon. Although these three men from Babylon were not directed by the senders to give the silver and gold to Zechariah, yet there could be no objection to his taking part of it at the command of Jehovah of armies, forasmuch as the silver and gold were really contributed to Him in behalf of the restoration work under Governor Zerubbabel. With what Zechariah took, he was to perform a prophetic act, as an encouragement to the restoration work.
19. What was Zechariah to make and then do with it?
19 With what precious metal he took, Zechariah was to make a “grand crown” (literally, “make crowns,” but evidently the plural noun being used in the sense of grandeur). What Zechariah made he was to put upon the head of High Priest Joshua. What did it mean?
20. (a) What was the one called Sprout to build, and where would that one rule? (b) What was to become of the golden crown that was made?
20 Let us listen to what Zechariah is told to say to Joshua: “And you must say to him, ‘This is what Jehovah of armies has said: “Here is the man whose name is Sprout. And from his own place he will sprout, and he will certainly build the temple of Jehovah. And he himself will build the temple of Jehovah, and he, for his part, will carry the dignity; and he must sit down and rule on his throne, and he must become a priest upon his throne, and the very counsel of peace will prove to be between both of them. And the grand crown itself will come to belong to Helem [or, Heldai] and to Tobijah and to Jedaiah and to Hen [or, Josiah] the son of Zephaniah as a memorial in the temple of Jehovah. And those who are far away will come and actually build in the temple of Jehovah.”’”—Zechariah 6:12-15.
21. Why was it fitting that High Priest Joshua be the one crowned, and not Governor Zerubbabel?
21 In the fourth vision to Zechariah he had been told to say to High Priest Joshua: “Here I am bringing in my servant Sprout!” (Zechariah 3:8) In Jeremiah 23:5 the foretold Sprout is said to be raised up to King David of the house of Judah, not to a high priest of the house of Levi. Yet it was appropriate for Zechariah to put the golden crown upon the head of High Priest Joshua instead of upon the head of Governor Zerubbabel. Why? Because, concerning Sprout, it was said: “He must sit down and rule on his throne, and he must become a priest upon his throne.” (Zechariah 6:13) Here the Greek Septuagint Version reads differently, saying: “And there shall be a priest on his right hand”; and a number of modern Bible translators take that reading instead of the Hebrew and Syriac. The crowning of High Priest Joshua instead of Governor Zerubbabel would not arouse the fears of King Darius I of Persia that a Jewish revolt was being set forward. No, the kingdom of David was not being restored at that time, but it had to wait until the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E.—Luke 21:20-24.
22. Did Joshua the son of Jehozadak sit upon a throne and rule as priest-king, and, in the light of that, what is the application and fulfillment of the prophecy?
22 High Priest Joshua did have part with Governor Zerubbabel in finishing the building of the second temple of Jehovah at Jerusalem and he witnessed its inauguration. He did not, however, personally rule as a crowned Priest-King upon a throne in Jerusalem. Neither did Governor Zerubbabel do so. But the anointed High Priest Joshua was a type or prophetic figure of the Messiah, the Christ, and in this latter one the prophecy concerning Sprout is fully realized. The Messiah, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, does become a Priest-King, in heaven, at the right hand of Jehovah God. He fulfills what was foreshadowed in ancient Melchizedek, who was both king of Salem and priest of the Most High God at the same time. Since the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E., he reigns in the heavens as a King-Priest, like Melchizedek, and now rules and goes subduing in the midst of his enemies.—Psalm 110:1-6.
23. (a) Is there any conflict between Jesus’ office of High Priest and his office of King? (b) For whom does he bear the “dignity” worthily, and for what work will Jehovah give him credit?
23 The Messiah Jesus, crowned in 1914 C.E., is no imitator of the religious clergy of Christendom who meddle in worldly politics and try to boss the resentful politicians. There is no conflict between his office of heavenly High Priest and his office of Messianic King. As it is written, “the very counsel of peace will prove to be between both of them.” (Zechariah 6:13) He worthily carries “the dignity” conferred upon him by the God for whom he is High Priest. (Hebrews 5:4-6) From his royal throne in the heavens he has carried forward the temple work at the earth since the year 1919 C.E. among the liberated remnant of his anointed spiritual underpriests. As in the case of High Priest Joshua in rebuilding Jehovah’s temple at Jerusalem, Jesus Christ the heavenly High Priest will bring the temple work to completion. With this honor he will rightly be credited by his God.
24. The use of the crown from the gold contributed by the three from Babylon and (indirectly) by Josiah indicates what for those contributing to the temple work?
24 In that spiritual temple of the Most High God those who have contributed toward the temple work will be given due remembrance. Their part will not be allowed to be forgotten, just as the crown made from the gold brought by Helem (Heldai, in the Syriac), Tobijah and Jedaiah and, indirectly by their hospitable host, Hen (Josiah, Syriac), served as a “memorial in the temple of Jehovah.” (Zechariah 6:14) It will linger in Jehovah’s memory.
25. The coming of the three men from Babylon with a contribution was, seemingly, a forerunner of what according to the next words said?
25 The coming of Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah from Babylon to make or deliver a contribution in support of the temple rebuilding seemed to be the forerunner of something bigger. This is indicated by Jehovah’s words uttered immediately after speaking of the temple memorial of those three exiles from Babylon: “And those who are far away will come and actually build in the temple of Jehovah.” (Zechariah 6:15) Doubtless, although unreported, many Jews did leave exile in Babylon and come to Jerusalem just to lend a helping hand in the second temple at Jerusalem.
26. How has this prophecy been fulfilled since 1919 C.E.?
26 Likewise, after 1919 C.E., many who desired to worship Jehovah left Babylon the Great with a particular object in view. This object they carried out in that they dedicated themselves to Jehovah as God and got baptized in water as commanded by Jesus Christ and they joined the anointed remnant that had survived the affliction of Jehovah’s people during World War I. Jehovah God accepted their dedication through Christ and begot them by his spirit, thus adding them to the remnant of spiritual Israelites engaged in temple work. They have seized this blessed opportunity before temple work is over!
27, 28. What may be said as to whether the “great crowd” of worshipers who are not spiritual Israelites come under the fulfillment of Zechariah 6:15?
27 What, also, is to be said of the “great crowd” of those who do not become spiritual Israelites, but who join with the anointed remnant in the worship of Jehovah God and give support to the remnant in the temple work? The last book of the Holy Bible, at Revelation 7:9-17, foresaw an unnumbered “great crowd” of such fellow worshipers of the only living and true God. These acknowledge him as the enthroned Sovereign of the universe. They accept the sin offering of his sacrificial Lamb, Jesus Christ. In expression of this they dedicate themselves to Jehovah through Christ and testify to this by water baptism. Then they render what sacred service they are assigned to do in the earthly courtyard of Jehovah’s spiritual temple. They get inside the walls that surround the courtyards and that separate those courtyards from the profane things on the outside.
28 They do this now, before the coming “great tribulation” breaks upon Babylon the Great and all the rest of this worldly system of things. They thus get in ahead of the finishing of the temple work by that momentous time. Jehovah will not forget their part. He will memorialize it with a reward.
29. What accomplishment in 515 B.C.E. proved that Zechariah had been sent by Jehovah?
29 At the completion of the second temple in Jerusalem in 515 B.C.E., the Jewish remnant and the proselytes in the land of Judah had finalizing proof that Zechariah was God-sent as a true prophet. Not in vain had the words been said to Zechariah: “And you people will have to know that Jehovah of armies himself has sent me to you. And it must occur—if you will without fail listen to the voice of Jehovah your God.”—Zechariah 6:15.
30. As in Zechariah’s day, if we listen to Jehovah’s voice we shall witness what event and we shall come to the fullness of what knowledge?
30 In our case today it is the same. It all depends upon whether we listen to the voice of Jehovah as our God. If we do, we shall be privileged to witness the triumphant finish of the temple work, with honor to the crowned Priest-King Jesus Christ. We shall come to the fullness of the knowledge that Jehovah of armies sent the prophet Zechariah and that He gave us in advance a correct understanding of Zechariah’s prophecy for our benefit and joy. Jehovah’s four symbolic chariots have patrolled all the earth to safeguard the spiritual estate of the worshipers at his temple. Under their safeguarding our work comes to completion!
a The Bible footnote on “Behind the sea” says: “By a slight change in M [the Masoretic Hebrew text]. Literally, ‘after them,’ LXXVg; not in the same direction, but toward the west, toward the Great Sea, the Mediterranean.”