THE FOUR CHARIOTS
Zechariah 6:1-8 NKJV
“Then I turned and raised my eyes and looked, and behold, four chariots were coming from between two mountains, and the mountains were mountains of bronze. With the first chariot were red horses, with the second chariot were black horses, with the third chariot white horses, and with the fourth chariot dappled horses – strong steeds. Then I answered and said to the angel that talked with me, What are these, my LORD? And the angel answered and said to me, These are four spirits of heaven who go out from their station before the LORD of all the earth. The one with the black horses is going to the north country, the white is going after them, and the dappled are going toward the south country. Then the strong steeds went out, eager to go, that they might walk to and fro throughout the earth. And he said, Go, walk to and fro throughout the earth. So they walked to and fro throughout the earth. And he called to me, and spoke to me, saying, See, those who go toward the north country have given rest to my spirit in the north country.”
This is the eighth vision given Zechariah during a single night session. It involves four chariots which are seen as coming out from between two mountains. The chariots are pulled by different coloured horses.
Red horses were pulling the first chariot. Black horses the second; white horses pulled the third, and the fourth chariot was pulled by grisled horses. Notice horses is plural so each chariot had more than one horse pulling it.
These are seen as coming out from between two mountains of brass. I am going to defer discussing these two mountains until we reach chapter 14 of Zechariah, but I will remind you that brass is a symbol for judgment in Scripture and mountains usually refer symbolically to kingdoms.
Chariots often speak of angels in Scripture. Consider the following reference to chariots in Psalm 68:17a (KJV).
“The chariots of GOD are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels.”
Again, in Isaiah 66:15-16.
“For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with His chariots like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire.
For by fire and by His sword will the LORD plead with all flesh:
and the slain of the LORD will be many.”
Chariots most often, as in this account, speak of the angels of the LORD of the host of heaven’s armies and are usually associated with judgment. The fact that here in Zechariah they are coming from between two mountains of brass reinforces a prelude to judgment.
Red speaks of war, bloodshed, judgment.
Black speaks of famine and death.
White speaks of victory, righteousness and peace.
Dappled or grisled speaks of vindication and justice. This my own take on this colour and I will give reasons shortly.
Some translations, such as the KJV use the word “bay” in verse 7. Bay (‘amos’) means strong from the root meaning, ‘to be strong.’
So we have a picture of four chariots and four different coloured horses that are described as being ‘strong.’ It is unclear whether the adjective refers to strong horses or to strong colours.
These four coloured chariots and horses are probably not the same horses of Revelation 6:1-8.
The four coloured horses of Revelation appear to be in the beginning half of the final 7-year period; these horses in Zechariah 6 appear to be at the end of the Tribulation period.
The results of the horses of Revelation 6 affects only parts of the earth; there seems to be a sense of totality and finality in the results of these horses of Zechariah 6.
Also, the horses in Revelation 6 are most likely caused by man or are demonic in nature; these in Zechariah 6 come from “before the LORD”.
Note that the seal judgments and trumpet judgments of Revelation are caused by mankind or by demonic forces, whereas the bowl judgments come directly from GOD.
These four horse-chariots are defined as “the four spirits of heaven.” And they have been “sent out from standing before the LORD of all the earth.”
1 Kings 22:19 reminds us,
“And he said, Hear thou the word of the LORD : I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right hand and on His left.”
Or Daniel 7:10 NKJV,
“A fiery stream issued and came forth before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.”
Also in Luke 1:19 we read,
“And the angel answered and said to him, ‘I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of GOD, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings.’”
These are the four spirits that stand before the GOD of the whole earth.
This takes us beyond Israel for the scope here is far broader.
The black horses are to go north, followed by the white horses. Some translations say that the white horses go ‘west’ but this is incorrect! If they were to go west they would get wet – the Mediterranean sea. The word used here is ‘ahar’ meaning after them or behind them. So, both the black and the white go north.
The dappled or grisled go to the south.
It seems the red horses remain behind, for war and judgment are about to explode upon the land of Israel!
These horses that go north and south will deal with the enemies of Israel. Israel’s enemies always came from the north or the south.
Egypt and Edom are to the south, while Assyria and Babylon are to the north or at least attacked from the north.
Time does not permit a detailed account concerning the fate of the enemies of Israel. Jeremiah gives detailed accounts for many of them.
Jeremiah 47 speaks the prophecy against the Philistines – Gaza.
Jeremiah 48 speaks the word against Moab.
Chapter 49 concerns the Ammonites and some prophecies against Edom. This chapter also deals with Damascus, Kedar, Hazor and Elam.
Chapters 50 and 51 speak to Babylon.
Many other passages speak to Edom and Babylon as well including Obadiah which lists eight statements condemning Edom. The eight “Thou should not have . . .”
The black and white chariots go north to execute GOD’s wrath against all these northern enemies including the Gog-Magog of Ezekiel 38-39. “I will remove far from you the northern army.” Joel 2:20.
Some excerpts from Ezekiel.
“Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog.”
“Thus says the LORD GOD I am against you O Gog, I will put hooks into your jaws and bring you forth.”
“After many days you will be visited: in the latter years you will come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which has been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, . . you will ascend and come like a storm: you will be like a cloud of cover the land; and you will think an evil thought: I will go to them that are at rest, to take a spoil, and to take a prey.”
“In the latter days and I will bring you against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I will be sanctified in you, O Gog, before their eyes.”
“I will plead with you . . .Thus will I magnify myself and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they will know that I am the LORD”
“I will turn you back, and leave but the sixth part of you, and will cause you to come up from the north parts, and will bring you upon the mountains of Israel:”
“You will fall upon the open field: and they will know that I am the LORD.”
The red horses stay within the land of Israel for there will be war and judgment there according to Psalm 83.
As Christians our desire is for peace. We are benefactors of the Peace of Christ for He is The Prince of Peace. However, there cannot be peace without justice, and all that is unjust, all that is deceitful, all that rages against our Holy God must be put away.
The world is striving for peace but only according to their own agenda. The world wants no God, no God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; no God Who bears the name of Jesus. The world’s peace cannot stand.
1 Thessalonians 5:3: “For when they will say, Peace and safety then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.”
The horses were eager to get moving. GOD’s longsuffering is drawing to a close. If you listen closely you can hear the stamping of their hooves and the wicker of their voices. “Today is the day of salvation if you would hear His voice.”
A couple of additional thoughts. The word grisled or dappled occurs only four times in Scripture – here twice and in Genesis 31 twice.
A dappled/grisled animal is one that is usually white, black or grey underneath a scattering of dots or speckles. When trying to understand a word use in Scripture it is imperative to look back to find its first usage. Thus, we need go back to Genesis 31 for grisled.
Perhaps you recall the story surrounding the grisled sheep and goats of Jacob’s time.
A little background for our story.
Esau and Jacob were twins with Esau being the eldest.
Jacob, along with his mother Rebekah, deceives his father Isaac and takes the blessing of the firstborn from his brother Esau.
It’s true that Esau scorned the blessings and had sold his birthright to his brother Jacob, however, Jacob gained the birthright of the eldest unfairly.
Esau marries women of the Hittites and this upsets his parents.
“Esau was forty years old when he took to wife . . . daughters of Hittite. Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.” Gen. 26:34-35.
So Jacob is sent back to the original homestead to his uncle Laban to find a wife. His father Isaac’s servant had also made this journey to find Rebekah as a wife for Isaac.
Upon arrival, Jacob falls madly for Rachel and asks his uncle Laban what wages he would require to marry her – seven years labour it turned out.
So, for seven years Jacob tends Laban’s flocks of sheep and goats.
Upon completion a marriage is performed and Laban escorts his daughter Leah into the darkened bedchamber of Jacob for the consummation. In the morning Jacob is shocked to find Leah laying beside him and not Rachel!
Laban’s response to Jacob,
“It must not be so done in our land, to give the younger before the first-born.”
Notice the irony or rather the “sowing and reaping!”
Jacob got the first-born blessing from his father Isaac by deceit, and now Jacob gets the first-born daughter of his uncle Laban by deceit!
Jacob now works an additional seven years to gain the hand of Rachel.
Now Jacob is ready to head home with wives and herds and sons. Genesis 30:26:
“Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for you know my service which I have done for you.”
But Laban was reticent to let Jacob go for he had made Laban very wealthy with his skill at breeding his sheep and goats. Tell me what wages you want in order to stay?
Give me one thing and I will again feed and keep your flocks.
Genesis 30:25-43 describes Jacob’s struggle to convince Laban to allow him to return to his own people with his wives and children, even though the 14 years of Jacob’s contracted service have ended. Laban asks Jacob to name new wages to continue to work for him. Laban knows he has grown wealthy due to the Lord’s blessing on Jacob. Jacob asks to own all the new off-color sheep and goats that will be born to Laban’s flock. Laban agrees and quickly tries to cheat Jacob. Nevertheless, the Lord blesses Jacob’s unusual breeding practices, causing so many off-color animals to be born in the flock that Jacob becomes a wealthy man in his own right. Soon he will leave Laban behind for good.
As we read through this passage, we need to keep in mind that Jacob wasn’t cheating Laban, God was counteracting Laban’s cheating on him. Apparently, God had come to Jacob in a dream and told him what to do, and then God directed the birth of the sheep and goats to produce whatever Laban had forced Jacob to take out of the flocks. We are not told in Scripture if God miraculously changed the genetic makeup of the flocks or whether he just divinely guided those with the genetic information for stripes, spots and/or mottling to outcompete the other animals. But either way, this was providentially directed.
“And the angel of God said, Lift up now your eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ring-streaked, speckled, and grizzled: for I have seen all that Laban does to you.”
Jacob explained things to Laban’s sons that their father had deceived him and changed his wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.
So, what does all this have to do with Zechariah?
God chose the 4th chariot to be pulled by grisled or dappled horses to attest to GOD’s overturning of deceit with His Truth and His justice.
The wages that were “changed” ten times by Laban speaks to the world unethical economic treatment of those who labour for them.
There is a tie-back to the deceitful basket of the previous vision by the description of the grisled horses of chariot four.
Our final thought today concerns the phrase in Zechariah 8:
See, those who go toward the north country have given rest to my spirit in the north country.”
Rest to GOD’s Spirit! This sounds like something very special.
This may have to do with the final overthrow of Babylon as recorded in Revelation 17 and 18.
The first rebellion was led by Nimrod and it involved Babel and the land of Shinar. Everything occultic began in Babylon. The spiritual warfare that emanated from this very first rebellion has finally been dealt with.
The turmoil resonating throughout the earth from this spiritual warfare is over. Can we even imagine what the inner silence of our spirits will be like without all the unholy, filthy chatter bombarding us every moment of every day! Peace, in the inward parts.
Wisdom in the inward parts as per Job 38:36;
Truth in the inward parts as per Ps. 51:6;
His law in the inward parts as per Jeremiah 31:33.
When GOD sets all things right again, there will be rest to His Spirit and rest to ours. Praise GOD for His integrity, faithfulness, and justice, for these release peace into our entire being. God in peace, Amen.