Zechariah 6 Bible Commentary

John Darby’s Synopsis

(Read all of Zechariah 6)
Mediate power: God's government on earth after Nebuchadnezzar's failure

In chapter 6 we are shewn the government of God in the four monarchies, but neither as immediate government on God's part nor merely that of human government. We have seen power committed to man in the person of Nebuchadnezzar, and that he had failed therein. But it was not the will of God immediately to resume the reins of government in the earth, neither to leave the earth to the wickedness and the will of man without any providential bridle, without any government. He controls them, not by acting directly, so as to maintain the testimony of His character and His ways, but by means of instruments whom He employs, the result of whose activity is according to His will. The only wise God can do this, for He knows all things and directs all things to the accomplishment of His purposes. This is the reason that we see all sorts of things morally in disagreement with His ways in government, which yet succeed: a chaos as to the present, but the issue of which will furnish a clue, that will make manifest a wisdom even more profound and admirable than that which was displayed in His own immediate government in Israel, perfect as this was in its place. It is that universal providence, which, in its results, satisfies the moral exigencies of the nature of God; while in the intermediate course of things free scope is left to the active energies of man's will.

This mediate power, exercised by means of instruments proceeding from the presence of the Most High God, is employed in connection with His rights over the whole earth. This is the character of God in the prophecy of Zechariah. It is the character also of His government for the time being, that is, during the four empires. When Christ shall reign, the government will again be immediate in His Person, and Jerusalem be its centre.

I think that the judgment executed upon Babylon answers to that which is said in verse 8. We know that Chaldea was always the north country to Israel. The spirits employed by God have accomplished the will of God there. The seventh verse appears to indicate the Roman empire, comprising everything from its first establishment to the present time, and its historical character at all times. The white horses would be the representatives of that which God has done by means of the Greek empire. The grisled and bay appear to indicate a mixture of Greek and Roman power—at least, these horses have a double character, which becomes afterwards two distinct classes (the last only having the character of universality, which goes to and fro throughout all the earth). I doubt not that all these proud instruments of His government will be found again as spheres of judgment in the last days, when God begins to assert His rights as the God of the whole earth, unless Babylon geographically may be an exception in virtue of what is said in verse 8.

The Branch, the true Melchisedec

The full result is given in verses 9-15 in which the Branch is looked at as born and growing up in the place of His earthly glory, building the temple of Jehovah, bearing the glory, ruling upon His throne, a priest upon His throne, the true Melchisedec, maintaining for the earth the enjoyment of perfect peace—the "counsel of peace" with Jehovah. This counsel of peace is maintained between Jehovah and the Branch (compare Psalms 85 and 87). Therefore should they come from far to build in the temple of Jehovah; and the testimony of prophecy should be made good by its fulfilment.

Judgment on Babylon: fulfilment of promise to the obedient remnant

Again we see the two elements which link the events and the dealings of God in the prophet's day, with the glorious circumstances of the last days. First, the overthrow of Babylon has already executed the judgment on the first oppressors of Jerusalem who led her captive. The whole system is thus judged in principle; as in the New Testament it is said of the adversary, "Now is the prince of this world judged." And then, the fulfilment of the promise is attached to the obedience of the remnant (v. 15). This continues with respect to Israel unto the end (see Acts 3, and even Heb. 3 and 4). But meantime the fulness of the Gentiles must come in independently of this on other grounds. At the end Israel, obedient (that is in fact, the remnant)—no longer united to the order of the assembly, but connected with the promises to Israel in the earth—will enjoy the fulfilment of these promises.

God's hidden providential government

We may remark that in Zechariah (Babylon being already judged) we have neither man invested with the government, nor the moral character of the empires presented under the form of an image or that of beasts; but the government of God hidden, providential, but real, in connection with these empires. This is an element of much importance, if we would understand the whole system existing from the time of Nebuchadnezzar, and the return from captivity, until the end, when Christ shall reign in righteousness. The first part of the prophecy closes with the end of chapter 6.