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Eighth Vision: Four Chariots


And again I looked up and saw four chariots coming out from between two mountains—mountains of bronze. 2The first chariot had red horses, the second chariot black horses, 3the third chariot white horses, and the fourth chariot dappled gray horses. 4Then I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” 5The angel answered me, “These are the four winds of heaven going out, after presenting themselves before the Lord of all the earth. 6The chariot with the black horses goes toward the north country, the white ones go toward the west country, and the dappled ones go toward the south country.” 7When the steeds came out, they were impatient to get off and patrol the earth. And he said, “Go, patrol the earth.” So they patrolled the earth. 8Then he cried out to me, “Lo, those who go toward the north country have set my spirit at rest in the north country.”

The Coronation of the Branch

9 The word of the L ord came to me: 10Collect silver and gold from the exiles—from Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah—who have arrived from Babylon; and go the same day to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah. 11Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak; 12say to him: Thus says the L ord of hosts: Here is a man whose name is Branch: for he shall branch out in his place, and he shall build the temple of the L ord. 13It is he that shall build the temple of the L ord; he shall bear royal honor, and shall sit upon his throne and rule. There shall be a priest by his throne, with peaceful understanding between the two of them. 14And the crown shall be in the care of Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Josiah son of Zephaniah, as a memorial in the temple of the L ord.

15 Those who are far off shall come and help to build the temple of the L ord; and you shall know that the L ord of hosts has sent me to you. This will happen if you diligently obey the voice of the L ord your God.

The vision is now explained; for if the chief priest, without this explanation, had been adorned with two crowns, there must have been much talk among the people, “What means this?” God here shows that what he has commanded to be done to Joshua does not belong to him, but has a reference to another, Thou shalt say to him, Behold the Man, Branch is his name. It is the same as though the Prophet had expressly testified that Joshua was not crowned, because he was worthy of such an honor, or because he could look for royal dignity; but that he was to bear this honor for a time, in order that the Jews might understand that one was to arise who would be both a king and a priest. Hence he says, that there would be a man, whose name was to be Branch

As to this name, it has been explained elsewhere. I omit those refinements with which some are delighted; but as I have shown in another place, the simple and true reason why Christ is so called, is, because he was not like a tall tree, with deep and strong roots, but like a small plant. He is indeed called in another place, “a shoot from the root of Jesse.” (Isaiah 11:1.) But the meaning is the same; for that root of Jesse was obscure and of no repute. Besides, this kind of shoot has nothing in it that is illustrious. We hence see that Christ is called Branch, because his beginning was contemptible, so that he was of hardly any repute among heathens; nay even among his own nation. But God intimates at the same time, that this little plant would be set, as it were, by his own hand, and thus would gather strength. Though then the beginning of Christ was humble, yet God declares, that he would give vigor for continued growth, until he should attain to a great height. In this sense it is that Christ is called Branch: and we clearly conclude, that the minds of the people were transferred to Christ who was to come, that they might not fix their attention on Joshua, who was then but a typical priest. Say to Joshua, Behold the man, whose name is Branch. Where is that man? He does not speak of Joshua; he does not say, “Thou art the man;” but he says, Behold the man, whose name is Branch, that is, who comes elsewhere. We then hence learn, that these crowns were those of Christ, but given to Joshua, that the Jews might see in the type, what was as yet hid under hope.

He afterwards adds, He shall arise from himself, or grow up from his own place, literally, from under himself. Here also some have too refinedly philosophised, — that Christ arose from himself by his own power, because he is the eternal God. I think, on the contrary, that all human means are only excluded, as though the Prophet had said, that though Christ was like a little plant, he would yet grow up as though he had roots deeply fixed in the earth. There is indeed no doubt, but that Christ grew up by his own celestial power, and this is what the words of the Prophet include; but what he meant was this, — that Christ had nothing in his beginning calculated to draw the admiration of men. Though then Christ was only a shoot, yet God had sufficient power, that he should grow from his own place, 6666     And he shall branch out from his place,—Newcome. Henderson follows our version. The Targum’s version is remarkable, “Behold the man, Messiah is his name; who shall be revealed.” The metaphor is dropped, and revelation or manifestation was understood to be the meaning of “growing out of his place.” “Out of his place,” that is, “out of Bethlehem,” says Henry. “Out of David’s root, tribe and family,” says Adam Clarke.—Ed. that though human means were absent, it would yet be enough, that God should bless this branch, so as to cause it to grow to its proper height.

He then says, And he shall build the temple of Jehovah. This is a remarkable passage: it hence appears that the temple which the Jews had then begun to build, and which was afterwards built by Herod, was not the true temple of which Haggai had prophesied, when he said,

“The glory of the second house shall be greater
than that of the first.” (Haggai 2:9.)

For though the temple of Herod was splendid, yet we see what the Spirit declares in this place, — that to build the temple would be Christ’s own work. Hence no one, had he heaped together all the gold and the silver of the world, could have built the true temple of which Haggai prophesied, and of which Ezekiel has so largely spoken near the end of his book. Christ alone then has been chosen by the Father to build this temple. Christ indeed himself was a temple as to his body, for the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in him, (Colossians 2:6;) but he built a temple to God the Father, when he raised up everywhere pure worship, having demolished superstitions, and when he consecrated us to be a royal priesthood.

We now then see what was shown to the Prophet, — that though the Jews were then exposed to many evils, to reproaches and wrongs, yet Christ would come to restore all things to a perfect order, that he would be not only a king but also a priest; and further, that his beginning would be obscure and despised by the world, and yet that he would attain without any earthly helps his own elevation; and, lastly, that his own proper office would be to build a temple to God.

He repeats the last thing which he had said, Even he shall build the temple of Jehovah. The Prophet seems here to reiterate to no purpose the same words without any additions of light: but it seems evident to me, that he meant in this way to confirm and sanction what seemed difficult to be believed. As the temple, then, begun at that time to be built, had but little splendor and glory connected with it, and could hardly be expected to become a better or more adorned building, the Prophet reiterates this promise, He, he shall build the temple of Jehovah; by which he means, “Let not your eyes remain fixed on this temple, for to look at it weakens your faith and almost disheartens you; but hope for another temple which ye see not now, for a priest and a king shall at length come to build a better and a more excellent temple.”

He afterwards subjoins, Bear shall he the glory, and shall sit and rule on his throne. He fully confirms what we have already referred to — that this man, who was to grow by God’s hidden power, would be made both a king and a priest, but by no earthly instrumentality. In the words, bear shall he the glory, there is no doubt an implied contrast between Joshua and Christ, the true priest. For Joshua, though he discharged in his time the office of a priest, was yet despised; but the Prophet bids his people to hope for more than what could have been conceived from the view of things at that time; for an illustrious priest was to come, full of royal dignity. And hence he adds, sit shall he and rule on his throne. This did not properly belong to the priesthood; but the Prophet affirms, that the man who was to come from above, would be a king, though he exercised the priestly office. He was then to be a priest, and yet to be on his throne and to rule as a king; and ruling is what belongs to a king and not to a priest.

At length he concludes by saying, The counsel of peace shall be between the two. I do not think that the discords which had been between kings and priests are here indirectly reproved. I indeed allow that such discords had often been seen among that ancient people; but the Prophet had regard to something far different, even this — that the priesthood would be united with the kingly office. He therefore did not refer to different persons who were to be at peace together; but, on the contrary, spoke of things or of the two offices; there shall then be the counsel of peace between the two, that is, between the kingly office and the priesthood. 6767     There are especially two interpretations of this sentence; the one adopted by Calvin, and also by Jerome, Marckius, Drusius, Dathius, Scott, and Henderson; and the other is, that the “two” are Jehovah, and the Branch or Messiah, and that the “throne” mentioned is the throne of Jehovah. This is the interpretation of Vitringa, Cocceius, Henry, M‘Caul, and Adam Clarke. The objection of Dathius to the last view, that is, that Jehovah is the speaker, and therefore cannot be understood here as the third person is used, seems not to be valid, for the third person is used before in the words, “the temple of Jehovah.” But the first interpretation seems the most appropriate and significant — the concord and agreement between the two offers.—Ed. We hence learn that which I have already stated — that what is here promised had not been found under the law, and could not have been expected under it; and that the fulfillment of this prophecy is the renovation which took place at the coming of Christ. It follows —

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