“Then I looked up again and saw four chariots coming from between two mountains. The mountains were made of bronze.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
There’s a great scene near the end of the first Avengers movie when Iron Man is confronting Loki about his plans. The villain arrogantly crows about how superior he is to all the humans and how they are just ripe for being ruled by him and how none of them pose any threat to him. Iron Man relates how Loki has managed to anger some really powerful people. When he fires back that he has an army at his disposal, Iron Man quickly retorts, “We have a Hulk.” Loki later meets Hulk and it doesn’t go quite like he expected. It’s always nice in a moment of crisis to have a Hulk on your side.
Here at last we come to the final of Zechariah’s visions (though we are not quite halfway through the book itself). This has been an interesting journey. It was not one I was honestly prepared for going in and I have learned much along the way. We have together seen a vision of God’s character and the passion He has for His people. It’s a remarkable thing just how much He loves us.
In this final vision, we see Zechariah offering one last bit of encouragement to the people of Israel: Your adversary is gone.
In a sight reminiscent of the first vision, Zechariah sees four chariots coming out from behind two bronze mountains. As I’ve done some reading on this passage, there are some pretty creative explanations as to what these mountains are, but the fact is we’re not told. Bronze was the strongest metal around at the time so this could be a vision of some kind of a strong base of operations, perhaps symbolizing God’s own strength, but we’ll leave that as a “we’re not sure.”
The four chariots are pulled by horses that are mostly the same colors as the horses from the first vision. Again, there are many creative explanations as to what these colors mean. It could be that they’re symbolic of something…it could also be that this is just good writing where more vivid imagery helps the reader get a clearer mental picture of the scene Zechariah is trying to describe.
Ultimately, two of the chariots are sent to the “land of the north” (probably symbolizing Babylon), and one is sent to the “land of the south” (possibly symbolizing Egypt). One chariot apparently stays in Israel. They are sent out to patrol these areas, but they’re not satisfied. They are strong horses and want to patrol the whole earth which they are allowed to do. The vision ends with a note that the chariots going to the land of the north “have pacified my Spirit in the northern land.”
So, what does this all mean? This is all militaristic imagery. God is sending out His forces to patrol. What do troops on patrol do? They keep the peace for the benefit of the commander who has sent them. These troops are patrolling the whole earth, but the land to the north–Babylon–is specifically noted as having been pacified, meaning there is no threat from there any longer.
Think about what God is likely saying here. He has sent troops over the whole earth and they are keeping the peace. The threat from Babylon has been specifically quelled. In other words, there are no more threats to the people of Israel. This is God giving them the encouragement that there are not any forces who will disrupt their efforts to rebuild and reestablish themselves in the land. He has extended a hedge of protection around them. They are safe.
There’s nothing quite like knowing you’ve got the God of the universe at your back. The people were still coming out of crisis mode. They needed this reassurance that if they started down the path Zechariah was calling them that they weren’t going to get hit by something else as they went. God was telling them here that they were safe to move forward. He had their back.
His commitment to us today hasn’t changed. In fact, it’s even stronger. In Christ and with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, we have the assurance that He always has our back. As long as we are moving forward toward His kingdom, there is nothing that will meaningfully be able to stand in our way. We don’t just have a Hulk, we have the God of the universe on our side. No matter what seems to rise up to stand in our path, we can walk with boldness.