Zechariah 6 – Horses II: The Revenge (Also, Branchman)

Zechariah 6 Bible with Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans

Today’s ChocolateEndangered Species Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans

Today’s PassageZechariah 6

The horses from chapter one are back today. They don’t have anything to say this time around, but they’re accompanied by chariots coming from mountains made out of bronze. Also, Joshua the high priest gets crowned, but he doesn’t get crowned king. He gets crowned branch.

In other words, the vision is still a little bit weird.

There are four chariots, each accompanied by horses of a particular color: one chariot with red horses, another with black, then with white, and finally with dappled. Unlike in chapter one, there are no sorrel horses, and the black and dappled horses are new to the party; the horse roster has changed up. I don’t know what the colors mean, but the black ones with their chariot head to the north, followed by the white ones. The dappled ones head south, the “strong ones” (which ones are the strong ones?) go patrol the earth, and when they leave, God reports: “See, those who are going to the land of the north have appeased My wrath in the land of the north” (8). Whatever went down in the north with those two chariots and the black and white horses, by the time they return, God’s thirst for justice has been sated.

For a brief moment, the text leans hard into that phrase “patrol the earth.” Zechariah observes, “When the strong ones went out, they were eager to go to patrol the earth. And He said, ‘Go, patrol the earth.’ So they patrolled the earth” (7). The phrase is literally “walk about through the earth.” And isn’t that what patrolling is? To go around throughout a certain area? The horses are going on a walkabout-through.

The chariots, the angel explains, are “the four spirits of heaven” (5). God’s got his scouts out and his heavy hitters ready to move. He’s well aware of the situation on the ground, and the angel, who originally wondered how long until God would have compassion on his people, wonders no longer. He got all his misgivings wrapped up in chapter one.

Then we’ve got the coronation of Joshua the high priest. God commands Zechariah to crown him with a crown made of silver and gold, and he goes on: “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the Lord” (12). As my NASB notes, the word for “branch” is literally “sprout.” “Sprout” reads more like a nickname for a boy than a name for a man, though, which is why I expect the translator has rendered it “Branch.”

Wherever a prophet identifies a man as a branch, one naturally reads it as a Messianic prophecy, a reference back to Isaiah 11:1-5 and the Branch from the line of Jesse. Certainly, Joshua the high priest played a role in restoring the temple during Zerubbabel’s administration. But Zechariah describes the Branch as “He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne” and “a priest on His throne” (13). And isn’t the Church proper, that set of all people across time and space who receive the grace of Jesus Christ and bear it to the world, a sort of embodied temple of the Lord? Isn’t it the temple that Jesus Christ built?

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