Zechariah sees four chariots with horses, representing heavenly powers under Christ's command in the end times. He is then told to crown Joshua the high priest in a symbolic act that represents the future coronation of Jesus as king and high priest.
Vision Eight - Four Chariots (v1-8)
Zechariah sees four chariots emerging from between two mountains of bronze (v1). They are harnessed to strong horses that are red, black, white and spotted respectively (v2). The angelic messenger tells Zechariah that these represent the four spirits (or winds) of heaven that present themselves before the Lord of all the earth. If we understand that Jesus is the commander of the Lord's army (e.g Joshua 5:14, and Revelation 19:11), these are powerful angelic forces at his disposal. He commissions them in the heavenly realm to bring about God's will in the earthly realm. In verse 7, these chariots and their horses are released to patrol the Earth. The NET bible says "they have sought permission". The NIV describes them "straining to go". The chariot with black horses goes north, followed some time later by the chariot with white horses. These bring about peace in the land of the north (v8). In Zechariah's day, this may represent Persia's conquest of the Babylonian Empire in 539 BC which resulted in a period of relative peace. That peace facilitated the return of the exiles to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple. The chariot with spotted horses heads south. In 525 BC, six years before Zechariah received this vision, Persia's King Cambyses had conquered Egypt. So the Jews who had returned from exile no longer faced a threat of invasion from the north or south. However, they did still face opposition from the local Samaritans and Arabs (Ezra 4-5 and Nehemiah 4).

Neither in this vision, nor in Zechariah's first vision of horses (Zechariah 1:8-15), are we told the meaning of the horses' colours. Neither are we told of any commission given to the chariot with red horses. In John's vision of four horsemen (Revelation 6:1-8), red denotes bloodshed and war, and so the red horse takes peace from the earth. Perhaps that is why the chariot with red horses had no commission in Zechariah's day. The other three chariots were commissioned and achieved a period of relative peace.

End-time application of the vision
As well as having a relevance to events in the 6th century BC, it is likely that this vision also portrays forces that will be at work in the heavenly and earthly realms during the Great Tribulation. In a similar way, the concluding oracle that follows had a relevance to Zechariah's time, but was ultimately symbolic of the coronation of Jesus at the end of the age.

The four chariots emerge from between two mountains of bronze (v1). When used metaphorically, mountains either represent great obstacles (Matthew 17:20) or they represent kings and their kingdoms (Revelation 17:9-10). The two bronze mountains suggest that end-time Israel will be caught in the middle between a kingdom in the north (Antichrist's empire) and a kingdom in the south (Mystery Babylon in Arabia). Jesus returns to defeat both these kingdoms and to deliver Israel from them in the sight of many nations (e.g. Ezekiel 39:27). These chariots and their horses represent powerful heavenly forces that will be under his command to help him defeat these kingdoms.

In Zechariah's first vision, he saw a man seated on a red horse (Zechariah 1:8). This man turned out to be the Angel of the Lord, the Pre-incarnate Christ. Here in chapter 6, perhaps Jesus is the rider of the chariot with the red horses, and this chariot represents Jesus' military campaigns leading up to and including his defeat of Antichrist at the battle of Armageddon. In Revelation 19:11, Jesus is portrayed riding a white horse of victory, but his clothes are stained red in the blood of those he has already slaughtered in his Edom campaign (Isaiah 63:1-6). Perhaps the chariot with red horses received no commission in Zechariah's day because its commission awaits the second coming of Jesus. Speaking of the second coming of Jesus, Isaiah 66:15 says, "For look, the Lord comes with fire, his chariots come like a windstorm, to reveal his raging anger, his battle cry, and his flaming arrows".

Concluding Oracle (v9-15)
Immediately after this eighth vision, Zechariah is told to go and meet three exiles who have just returned from Babylon (v10). The verb translated 'Choose' in the NET bible is translated 'Take' in the KJV and NIV, but has no object in the Hebrew text. It seems they have returned with an offering of silver and gold, and that Zechariah is to take it from them. He is then to go to the house of Josiah, to make a crown out of the silver and gold, and to set it upon the head of Joshua the high priest.

This crowning of Joshua is a symbolic act. Zechariah has already told Joshua that he and his fellow priests are a symbol that God's servant the Branch is coming (Zechariah 3:8). The Branch is a title for Israel's Messiah (Isaiah 4:2, 11:1 and Jeremiah 23:5). When Zechariah crowns Joshua, he proclaims God's word over him, "Look – here is the man whose name is Branch, who will sprout up from his place and build the temple of the Lord. Indeed, he will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed in splendor, sitting as king on his throne. Moreover, there will be a priest with him on his throne and they will see eye to eye on everything". After this symbolic crowning ceremony, Zechariah is instructed to give the crown back to Josiah and the three exiles from whom he took the gold and silver. They are then to place it in the temple of the Lord as a memorial.

In Zechariah's day, Joshua and Zerubbabel would rebuild the temple and it would be completed in 516 BC. But Joshua was symbolic of the true Branch (Jesus) who will one day rebuild the Millennial temple in Jerusalem. Jesus will be clothed in splendour and sit as king upon his throne. The coronation of Jesus is also prophesied in Daniel 7:13-14. The next statement, starting 'Moreover…' in the NET bible is translated in the NIV as, "And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two". This translation gives a clearer sense that Jesus is both the king and the priest. They are not separate individuals. We are told there is harmony between the two because normally the king had to be from the tribe of Judah, and the high priest had to be a descendant of Aaron from the tribe of Levi. Psalm 110 and the book of Hebrews explain in more detail how Jesus is a high priest in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron (Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews 5 to 7). Consequently, it is possible (or harmonious) for Jesus to one day sit upon his throne as both King and Priest.

In verse 15, Zechariah says that those who are far away will come and help to build the temple of the Lord. The fulfilment of this would prove that Zechariah had truly been sent by God. In Zechariah's day, this referred to more exiles returning to Jerusalem from Babylon, and presumably more did arrive, just as Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah had done. In the end times, many scriptures prophesy the restoration of Israel and Judah and the great return of exiles to their ancestral homeland. At the beginning of the Millennium, these exiles will help Jesus build the Millennial temple. This temple is described in great detail on Ezekiel 40 to 48.
Places: Land of the North, The South
Symbols: Mountains, Four chariots, Four horses, The Branch, Joshua as a symbol
Tags: Armageddon, Defeat of Antichrist empire, Antichrist from the north, Jesus as the Branch, Coronation of Jesus, Jesus as king and priest, Jesus will build the temple, Millennial temple
Vision Eight: The Chariots
1 Once more I looked, and this time I saw four chariots emerging from between two mountains of bronze.
2 Harnessed to the first chariot were red horses, to the second black horses,
3 to the third white horses, and to the fourth spotted horses, all of them strong.
4 Then I asked the angelic messenger who was speaking with me, “What are these, sir?”
5 The messenger replied, “These are the four spirits of heaven going out after presenting themselves before the Lord of all the earth.
6 The chariot with the black horses is going to the north country, and the white ones are going after them, but the spotted ones are going to the south country.
7 All these strong ones are scattering; they have sought permission to go and walk about over the earth.” The Lord had said, “Go! Walk about over the earth!” So they are doing so.
8 Then he cried out to me, “Look! The ones going to the northland have brought me peace about the northland.”

A Concluding Oracle
9 The Lord’s message came to me as follows:
10 “Choose some people from among the exiles, namely, Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah, all of whom have come from Babylon, and when you have done so go to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah.
11 Then take some silver and gold to make a crown and set it on the head of Joshua the high priest, the son of Jehozadak.
12 Then say to him, ‘The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, “Look – here is the man whose name is Branch, who will sprout up from his place and build the temple of the Lord.
13 Indeed, he will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed in splendor, sitting as king on his throne. Moreover, there will be a priest with him on his throne and they will see eye to eye on everything.
14 The crown will then be turned over to Helem, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Hen son of Zephaniah as a memorial in the temple of the Lord.
15 Then those who are far away will come and build the temple of the Lord so that you may know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has sent me to you. This will all come to pass if you completely obey the voice of the Lord your God.”’”