VICTORY AT LAST: King and High Priest Part Four
Israel had just been judged for her sins. For seventy long years the Jewish people had suffered in Babylon. A remnant had now returned to Jerusalem and was struggling to reestablish the city. By means of the visions of Zechariah in chapters one through four, the Lord promised them that their beloved city and Temple would be rebuilt. Their enemies would be defeated and, yes, in the future their sins would be forgiven. They would one day be God’s light to a sin-darkened world, finally becoming what He had always intended them to be. These truths were very comforting to that little group.
However, there were still some unanswered questions. Was the Lord really fair? Israel had suffered for her sins. Would He let the Gentile nations continue sinning? Was there ever going to be a day of reckoning for them? Would the world ever know real victory from sin and suffering?
To answer this, the Lord gave Zechariah three more visions recorded in chapters five and six. The theme now turns from Israel to stem warnings of severe punishment of sinners and sins. Before God could ultimately bless Israel, all sin and sinners must be removed. God cannot give the total victory promised until these problems are handled.
Vision Six God Removes Sinners 5:1-4
Zechariah saw a huge flying scroll approximately fifteen by thirty feet, exactly the same size as the Holy Place in the Tabernacle. It was unrolled and had writing on both sides. The writing seen on one side was the middle commandment of the second table of the Mosaic Law, or the eighth commandment, “Thou shall not steal. “The writing on the other side was the middle commandment of the first table, regarding swearing.
Look at the picture here. Stealing is a sin against another person. Swearing is a sin against God. Since these two commandments are representative of them all, the Lord is communicating through the prophet that all sin will be judged, whether it be against God or man.
We are told in verse three that, “This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth. . . .” God will deal in judgment not only against the Jew, but the Gentile as well.
The Lord promises, “I will bring it forth.” Judgment will come swiftly and harshly. It will enter into each home and remain there until all is totally destroyed. The believer will be vindicated. God will remove sin and the sinner once and for all.
Vision Seven God Removes the Sin System 5:5-11
The first highly developed system of sin, with its pride, commercial greed, ecclesiastical wickedness and idolatry, originated in Babylon. God had dealt with that city in Genesis chapter eleven. He confounded the languages and scattered the people all over the earth. However, this godless system still continued.
At the time of the writing of Zechariah, the remnant of Jews had just returned from the Babylonian captivity. They had learned their lesson about pagan idolatry and had outwardly put it away. Instead, they were drawn into wicked materialism. They had developed a greed never known before. They were now engulfed in another Satanic system of sin.
Zechariah saw an ephah. “”What is an ephah?” you ask. It was the largest measure of grain in the writer’s day. It held about 1.05 bushels and was big enough to hold a small person.
The symbolism of this vision is that of wickedness. It is a picture of single grains of sin filling a measure, the largest possible one. The sins are heaped up! It is saying that sin was no longer a little thing, but great in quantity.
As the prophet watched the vision unfold, the lid was lifted up. Inside was a woman. Symbolically, woman is often used in prophetic Scripture to show religious evil (Rev. 2:20; 17:1-7). What does this woman represent? Verse eight gives the answer: “This is wickedness.”
God gives a picture here of end-time wickedness. The woman is that apostate religious system that will develop to its fullest extent during the end of the Church age and during the Tribulation. She will join together with godless trade and commercialism. Just like in ancient Babylon, there will then be a mammoth materialistic system encompassing the globe.
As Zechariah watched, the woman tried to escape, but the lid of lead was placed upon the ephah. The wicked ecclesiastical and materialistic system represented by the woman was sealed within the basket. The lid was put upon the ephah!
The Fate of the Woman and the Ephah
Two demonic women with wings like a stork picked up the basket with the woman sealed inside and carried it back to Shinar or Babylon. It was taken right back to where it all started, and where it will all end. These demonic women try to protect the wicked woman from the judgment of God about to overtake her, but their effort will be to no avail. The Messiah will root out and destroy both the evil ecclesiastical system and the world’s wicked economic system.
Vision Eight The Judgment of the Nations 6:1-8
We come now to the eighth and final vision received by Zechariah on that awesome night. A casual reading will let us see that it concerns four chariots and four horses. This vision connects with the first vision found in chapter one. There were four horses there, dispatched by the man on the red horse, whom we saw was the Messiah. These angelic riders on the horses had traveled among the nations to determine their relationship to Israel. They were declared to be peaceful and at rest.
Now, in chapter six, there is a new perspective. The four chariots here are moving! They are pictures of divine vehicles of judgment. In the first vision, they were standing. Now they are moving, advancing to God’s final judgment upon the nations.
The second thing we see about these horses and chariots is that they come out from between two mountains of brass. Brass is used in the Scriptures as a symbol of judgment. Most Bible teachers believe them to be the Mount of Olives and either Mount Moriah or Mount Zion. Between these mountains is a major valley, Kidion, and these chariots and horses are seen plummeting down this valley.
So, then, the vision is portraying the angelic hosts moving down the Kidron Valley bringing the judgment of the Lord upon the nations. This agrees so well with the Old Testament writers who spoke of a final conflict in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Heb., Jehovah judges). There is no recorded place by this name. Bible scholars are generally agreed it is the Kidron Valley, renamed in the last days.
Furthermore, there is a parallel between the symbolism of these verses and that of the four horsemen of Revelation chapter six. The similarity occurs in the color of the horses and the judgment they bring. The red horse both here and in Revelation 6:4 speaks of war arid bloodshed. The black speaks of famine (Rev. 6:5). The white horse symbolizes conquering and triumph (Rev. 6:2). Finally, the dappled, grizzled bay or strong horse refers to death and hell (Rev. 6:7-8). There is a real consistency in the symbolism of both Zechariah and John. No wonder! The same Holy Spirit directed both as they wrote. Their prophecies only complement one another.
The Vision Explained 6:4-8
“What are these?” the prophet asks. They are four angelic beings dispatched from the very presence of the Lord, sent to the north and south. These are the two directions from which Israel’s enemies always came. The desert on the east was impregnable. The Mediterranean Sea was a natural barrier to the west.
God’s angelic messengers went then in judgment to the north and south. When they had completed their assignment, a message was related to Zechariah, “Behold, these that go toward the north country have quieted my spirit in the north country”’ (v. 8).
Babylon was to the north. Israel had been in bondage to them. “Quieted my spirit” is an idiom meaning brought peace. God had quieted Babylon, and Israel would not be troubled again by them in Zechariah s day.
The real blessing comes when you put this in its proper prophetic light. Much evil had come through the Babylonian system. It was the epitome of evil. Earlier, in chapter five, we saw the woman, the personification of wickedness in the midst of the ephah, with a lead weight on the top to keep her from escaping. Two demonic women carried her back to Shlnar or Babylon to continue in her wicked ways. With the comment given in verse eight, it is clear that religious and economic Babylon will be judged by the Lord, and the Spirit of God quieted or satisfied. The details of this are given in Revelation seventeen and eighteen.
Now, by means of these eight visions we have seen great promises to Israel concerning her land and enemies. She is to be forgiven and to become God’s shining light. Worldwide wickedness will have been destroyed. The world will now be ready for her Messiah and King to rule. No wonder the spirit of God is quieted. The stage is set for the greatest event to ever take place. Victory can come at last!
The Coronation of the King 6:9-15
Immediately following the destruction of the Gentile world powers and that system of evil, an act fakes place depicting the crowning of Messiah as King of kings. It is typified in the crowning of Joshua the high priest The events portrayed here are no longer in vision form; they are actual historical events that took place involving real people.
A caravan arrived from Babylon bringing gifts of gold and silver. They were probably sent to help rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. Zechariah was told to meet these men at the house of Josiah. No one else was to do this but him. He had been divinely prepared by the eight visions.
Zechariah was told to take the silver and gold from the travelers and “make crowns.” The Hebrew grammar suggests he was to make a composite crown of silver and gold intertwined. Then, he was commanded to put it upon the head of Joshua.
This was shocking. A high priest did not wear a crown. Neither did a king serve as high priest The priestly and kingly offices were always separate.
But we need to remember an incident earlier in Zechariah. Joshua, the high priest, represented Israel with his filthy garments (ch. 3). He was granted dean clothing, and a fair mitre was put on his head. Just as Joshua was a symbol of Israel cleansed in chapter three, the crowning of Joshua in our present passage is a picture of a day yet future, when the Messiah-Jesus would be crowned both High Priest and King in His Millennial reign. This crowning of Joshua was a brief act but far-reaching in its significance.
Zechariah is instructed to speak to Joshua: “. . . 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; 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 shaU be between them both” (Zech. 6:12-13).
This is an amazing passage of Scripture. Zechariah is speaking to Joshua the high priest, However, he is not speaking of Joshua, There are several reasons why we know this. First, the one of whom the prophet speaks will build the Temple of the Lord. Joshua never did this.
Zerubbabel did! Secondly, Joshua was never king. Thirdly, Joshua was never “the Branch.” Finally, Joshua never bore the glory. He died in insignificance.
The crowning of Joshua was to typify One far greater than he. “The Branch’” is a title for the Messiah given by both Isaiah and Zechariah (3:8 and 6:12).
The capstone of the entire first six chapters of the Book of Zechariah is found in the dual office of high priest and king. This High Priest will also be King. He will not be after the Aaronic priesthood, but rather another. He will be after the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 5:6, quoting Psalm 110:4, says of Christ, “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”’ He will make peace, or join together the office of high priest and king.
There were to be four crowns made for Helem, Tobijah, Jedaiah and Hen or Josiah. They would not wear them though, for they were to be put in the Temple and left there. According to Jewish tradition, these crowns were hung in windows at the top of the Temple, as a reminder of God’s promises regarding a permanent King-Priest, ruling over the earth.
All the visions of Zechariah, as well as the word of the Lord to him in chapter six, point prophetically towards the ultimate coronation of the Messiah King-Priest and the consummation of Jewish hopes and aspirations. With His crowning, sin and the unrepentant sinner will have been destroyed. The curse upon the earth will be gone. The Messiah will rule and reign over the entire earth. Creation will rejoice and cry out, “Victory at last!”