Summary: The LORD is supreme over the nations & is sovereignly working for the good of His people.
ZECHARIAH 6: 1-8
THE FOUR CHARIOTS DESCEND (THE EIGHTH VISION)
The vision of the four chariots and their horses is the eighth and last in this series of visions. This vision not only completes the visions but returns to the same theme as was found in the first. The LORD is supreme over the nations and is sovereignly working for the good of His people (CIT). The intervening visions focused on Israel's relationship with the LORD. Once God's people are in right relationship with Him, God is ready to move forward with the intervention promised in the first vision. The LORD's people could not expect to see their spiritual, emotional, and economic oppression vanquished and the kingdom of God ushered in until their own relationship with the LORD had been put on right footing. But now God reverses the situation for His sanctified repentant remnant by a wave of His almighty hand.
God's timetable is not determined by the need to punish the peoples who reject His rule, but by the need for His own people to be purified and ready to enjoy all He has prepared for them. When that is accomplished, God will ensure that no outside power will disrupt their peace and the enjoyment of their fellowship with Him.
Why did God allow His people to go through such suffering at the hands of an enemy He was going to destroy anyway? The intervening visions in which God postponed His judgment upon the peoples and powers which oppress His people teach us that it is more important that His people learn to trust and follow Him and be built up through adversity than it is that their enemies be punished.
So let us look more closely at the universal providence of God which is now acting to cleanse away the sinfulness of the earth.
I. THE COMING JUDGMENT UPON THE NATIONS, 1-3.
II. THE GOING FORTH OF JUDGMENT, 4-7.
III. THE RESTFUL AFTERMATH OF JUDGMENT, 8.
I. THE COMING JUDGMENT UPON THE NATION, 1-3.
Verse 1 uses the same phrase as before to indicate the start of another vision. "Now I lifted up my eyes again and looked, and behold four chariots were coming forth from between the two mountains and the mountains were bronze mountains."
Despite the fact that Zechariah has been weighted down by numerous overpowering visions, he is startled when he again lifted up his eyes and looked and graphically beholds four chariots advancing from between the two mountains of brass. The word for the two unnamed mountains (or hills) have a definite article in Hebrew which may indicate that they were well known. The mountains were bronze (or copper). Bronze typifies refining, purifying by fire or judgment. It was used when types of righteous judgments were established as is seen when Moses held up the bronze serpent in the wilderness for those bitten by fiery serpents because of their sinful rebellion (Num. 21:9; Jn. 3:14; 2 Cor. 5:21). The altars of burnt sacrifice of the Tabernacle and Temple that signify God's judgment against sin were bronze.
Thus the mountains are very likely the only two neighboring mountains of significance in the Bible, Mount Zion and Mount Olivet. They are mounts from which God's judgment goes forth upon the world. The valley of Je/hos/ha/phat (the Kidron Valley), which means Jehovah or "the Lord will judge," lies between those two mountains and is associated in prophetic Scriptures with God's judgments upon the nations (Joel 3:2f, 4:16; Zech. 14:4). Jews, Christians, and Moslems fix this valley as the scene of the last judgment.
Although used to transport kings and other notable persons, chariots were principally military vehicles. The designation of chariots would suggest battle to the ancient world. They symbolize the LORD's power (Ps. 68:17; Isa. 66:15; Hab. 3:8). Action is about to occur and chariots represent that action. The number of chariots seen is also significant. The number four stands for what is universal or world wide (2:6; 6:7). Ezekiel (37:9) and Zechariah (6:5) talked about "the four winds" and Isaiah (11:12) "the four corners (or directions) of the earth." The eternal city, the new Jerusalem of Revelation (21:16) is a city built four square (Jer. 49:36) [world-wide?]. Thus the universality of the judgment is indicated by the four chariots. Four chariots are pulled by four different colored horses. (Another clue to their identity is that verse five associates them with the "Presence" or "dwelling place" of the Word).
The focus of the prophet's description changes in verses 2 & 3 from the chariots to the horses which were drawing them. "With the first chariot were red horses, with the second chariot black horses, with the third chariot white horses and with the fourth chariot strong dappled horses."
From verse five we know that these horses are going forth from the Lord just as the horses were in the first vision (1:10). There thus seems to be a connection between the first and last vision for in both of them we find colored horses sent to patrol the earth.