Four chariots of God
Chariots of the Copper Mountains1I looked up again. This time I saw four chariots driving through the valley between two copper mountains.  2Red horses pulled the first chariot, black horses the second. 3White horses pulled the third chariot. The fourth chariot followed a team of dappled horses in gray hair sprinkled and spotted with lighter and darker hairs.
4I asked the angel, “Who are they, sir?” 5The angel said, “These are the Four Winds  of heaven, Spirits of the Lord that travel the earth. 6Black horses take their chariot to the north,  white to the west, spotted to the south.” 
7When the horses came trotting forward, they pulled on the reigns and stomped—eager to get going. The angel gave the order, “Go. The world is waiting for you.”  Off they went.
8The angel said, “Look at that. See what the Lord’s Spirit did in the north? The land is peaceful now because the Spirit has arrived.
Zechariah takes an offering9God gave Zechariah another message:
10“I want you to collect a donation of silver and gold from three men who just returned from exile in Babylon: Heldai,  Tobijah, and Jedaiah. The same day you collect that offering, take it to Josiah, son of Zephaniah.  11Use the silver and gold to make a crown. Then place the crown on the head of the high priest, Joshua, son of Jehozadak.
12Give Joshua a message. Tell him this is what the LORD of everyone says:
‘Listen to me. A man known as the Branch  will sprout up and branch out here in this land. He’ll build the LORD’s Temple.
13That’s right. He’ll be the one who will build the Temple of the LORD. He’ll rule as king and sit on his throne. A priest will sit on a throne beside him.  And the two will collaborate and get along with each other, for a peaceful rule.’
14Make another crown to honor Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah. Put it in the Temple as a reminder of their gift.”
15People living far away  will come and help build the LORD’s Temple. When they do, you’ll know that the LORD of everyone sent me, Zechariah, with these messages for you. These things will happen if you carefully listen to the LORD your God and do what he says.
The mountains may have represented God’s home. Some people at the time thought of their gods as living on the mountains. Bible writers, too, spoke of God who had dwelling places on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion (Psalm 48:1-2) and on Mount Sinai (Habakkuk 3:3).
The Hebrew word is ruah, a word that can mean: wind, spirit, breath, heart, among many other possibilities. The context helps scholars settle on which one seems best.
Colors of the horses aren’t important, many scholars say. But the directions are. They indicate that God’s influence and power extends all around the world. To Jews in Zechariah’s day, north could have represented Babylon, in what is now Iraq, or Persia in Iran. Both were east of Israel. But to get there most travelers followed the caravan routes to the north and then to the east and then south. That tracked alongside water sources, such as the Euphrates River. Chariots headed south could have meant to Edom, Egypt, and Ethiopia.
That left the red horses headed east, perhaps the Far East.
The original language of Hebrew says only, halak (go) and eres (earth). Context clues determine how Bible translators interpret the meaning. Some say the chariot teams “patrol” the earth or “range” the earth or “go through” the earth. But the point is that God’s influence has wheels.
It’s unclear if Heldai and Helem (verse 14) was the same person. We would expect Heldai’s name in verse 14 to appear with the other two donors. Perhaps Heldai’s nickname was Helem. Or maybe it was his name in another language of the region. Or perhaps a scribe copying a worn out scroll onto fresh leather needed some morning coffee, which wouldn’t be invented for another 2,000 years.
Josiah may have been a metalworker, given what happens next. The precious metal is melted and shaped into a pair of crowns.
See Zechariah 3:8. Jews probably knew exactly what Zechariah meant by the Branch. This mysterious Branch will be a heroic king from King David’s family—Israel’s only God-approved dynasty of kings. The prophet Isaiah talked about the Branch two centuries earlier. He described David’s dynasty as a stump of a tree that had been cut down. That’s what Babylonian invaders did when they defeated Judah and destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC. Isaiah said a branch would grow out of that stump, which is rooted into the family of David and his father Jesse. Jews later interpreted this Branch as a savior-king, a messiah. Many Christians interpreted the Branch as Jesus, a descendant of David. “Jesus” is the Greek version of the Hebrew name “Joshua.” The New Testament, which contains the story of Jesus, was written in Greek.
Some scholars interpret this to say that there’s only one person ruling, and that person is both a king and a priest. Some New Testament writers said Jesus fulfilled that prediction. King (Matthew 18:18; Luke 1:31-32). High priest (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Jews from “far away,” exiled to what is now Iraq, started returning to Jerusalem in the mid-500s BC. They rebuilt what sounds like a diminished version of King Solomon’s earlier Temple, which Babylonians stripped and destroyed. Some scholars say the people from “far away” might have a future fulfillment—when the messiah arrives. In this case, the “far away” people could be Jews and non-Jews building either a literal or a spiritual Temple of the LORD. Maybe it sits on Jerusalem’s bedrock, maybe in the heart, maybe on a cloud. God knows which. In God we trust.
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