Zechariah 3 - Outline of Zechariah (Book Notes menu page)
I. Symbolic Visions - Israel's Messianic Hope: Sure (ch. 1-6)
  1. Introduction and Message of Warning, 1:1-6
  2. Ten Visions, 1:7 - 6:15 -
    1. A Rider among the Myrtle Trees, and Horses behind Him (1:7-17)
    2. Four Horns (1:18-19
    3. Four Smiths (1:20-21)
    4. Man with Measuring Line (2:1-13)
    5. Joshua and Satan (3:1-7)
    6. The LORD's Servant, the Branch (3:8-10)
1. And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD,
and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
2 And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan;
even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee:
[is] not this a brand plucked out of the fire?
...Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD...-
Joshua was one of the leaders of the recently returned remnant (Ezr 3:8,9). He and Zerubbabel had responded in obedience to God's Word through Haggai and Zechariah. Joshua stood before the LORD as a servant entrusted with the spiritual leadership of the people in the work of restoring Jerusalem and the Temple worship (Ezr 5:1,2; Hag 1:12-14; 2:2-4; cp. 2Chr 29:11).
...and Satan standing... to resist him.-
Israel's leaders were well aware of the opposition posed by 'the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin,' namely their gentile neighbors, who discouraged the workers with physical and legal threats (see Ezra ch. 4). This vision revealed the powerful spiritual being who was working behind the scenes, to hinder God's work. The Hebrew name, Satan (meaning 'Adversary' or 'Opposer'), and the HB word translated 'resist' are nearly identical. The 'Opposer' was standing to 'oppose' God's servant.
the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan...-
Joshua did not have rank or power to turn aside Satan's opposition (cp. Jude 1:9). His confidence must be in the LORD whom he served, not in his own strength (cp. Zech 4:6).
...even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee...-
Satan has no rank or power to turn aside the LORD's purposes. Since God purposes to restore Jerusalem, all opposition, regardless of its source, strength and severity, will fall before Him (cp. Zech 1:17; 2:12; 2Chr 6:6). It is only 'in the power of the Lord's might' that His servants can stand against 'spiritual wickedness in high places' (Eph 6:10-13).
3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.
4 And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying,
Take away the filthy garments from him.
And unto him he said,
Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee,
and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.
5 And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head.
So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments.
And the angel of the LORD stood by.
Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel...-
As high priest, Joshua represented the people, who had not fully turned from the sins for which the nation had been judged, nor truly separated themselves from the ungodly people around them (Ezr 9:1-15; Isa 64:6). In God's sight, the defilement of Joshua's priestly garments was severe, as indicated by the HB word for 'filthy' {HB=tso', soiled by excrement}. [A related word, HB=tsa'ah, issue, refers to 'that which comes out of a man' in Deu 23:13 and Eze 4:12. Human defilement is from within (Mark 7:15,20-23).]
     The sinful condition, of priest and people, provided Satan with reason to accuse them before the LORD. (Satan is 'the accuser of the brethren.' Rev 12:10) Yet, having demanded that God judge His people for their sin, Satan stands speechless, at their LORD's response: The believing remnant was a "brand plucked out of the fire" of God's judgment. Though they were unworthy of His favor, still, God chose to save and bless them (cp. Hag 2:10-19).
and he {the angel of the LORD}... spake... (v.4)
...unto those that stood before him {ie., unto His angelic servants}, saying...
  • Take away the filthy garments from him...-
...unto him {Joshua}...
  • Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee...-
        cp. Isa 43:25; Psa 32:1,2; Php 3:7-9; Heb 8:12; cp. Rev 12:10,11; 1Joh 1:7; Jude 1:21-23
  • I will clothe thee with change of raiment...- Having been cleansed of sin, Joshua was to be clothed in the undefiled garments of a priest, who in true righteousness, was set apart to serve the LORD. Psa 132:9; cp. Eph 4:22-24
  • I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head...- The crowning glory of the high priest's garments was a head piece which was engraved with "Holiness to the LORD." (Ex 39:30,31).
and the angel of the LORD stood by.-
- - 'The angel of the LORD,' elsewhere referred to as 'the angel of His Presence' (Isa 63:9), stands with His people in their sorrows, and stands for His people to redeem them out of sin and trouble.
- - Joshua could neither do nor say anything to improve his condition. The angel of the Lord did everything necessary to cleanse, clothe and crown him.
- - In due time, the messenger of God's Presence would stand among His people as Emmanuel ('God with us,' Mat 1:23; 1Tim 3:16), to take away their sin, and to purify a people for Himself (Titus 2:14; 1Pet 2:24; 1Joh 1:9 - 2:2). (Thus, again, we see that 'the angel of the LORD' is the OT manifestation of the pre-incarnate Christ.)
6 And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying,
7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts;
If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge,
then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts,
and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.
If thou wilt walk in my ways... then thou shalt also judge my house...-
Israel's priests and rulers had failed to keep {hold fast} the things that He had committed to them in the past. Therefore, He had removed them from their responsibilities as His representatives. Here, the LORD was commissioning the priests of the returned remnant to serve Him. Sadly, though Joshua and his fellow priests were cleansed to serve in their day, their holy influence would soon fade away. The nation would again turn from God's ways and lose the privilege of governing their city. (Mal 2:1-9, written 100 years after Zechariah)
     They could not walk in God's ways, nor could they walk in company with God's angelic servants ('these that stand by'), because of their inward corruption. Just as Israel had failed to meet the conditions which God set before them in the wilderness (Ex 19:5,6), they would continue to fall short, until the day when they would receive inward cleansing (in the form of 'new hearts' provided through the New Covenant, Jer 31:31-33; Heb 8:8-13; 12:22-24).
8. Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee:
for they [are] men wondered at:
for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.
9 For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua;
upon one stone [shall be] seven eyes:
behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts,
and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
10 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts,
shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.
Joshua... and thy fellows... men wondered at {HB=mopheth, a sign, a token}...-
Having been cleansed and fully equipped for the LORD's service, Joshua and his fellow priests were a 'sign' or 'token' of the future condition of God's people. These men had nothing in themselves of which to glory. The angel of the LORD had plucked them out of the fire and prepared them for the work of His ministry. Their new relationship to Him illustrates the future day, when all Israel will be priests unto the LORD. Isa 61:6-10
Hear now, O Joshua... for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.
Although Joshua is later crowned symbolically as a foreshadow (or 'type') of the Branch (Zech 6:11,12), here, Joshua and his fellows are told to "behold... the BRANCH" and "behold the stone... before Joshua." Hearing that instruction, their gaze must already have been fixed upon 'the angel of the LORD' who stood by, and before whom Joshua stood (v.1,5).
'The BRANCH' is a name applied to the Messiah in four ways:
  1. "the Branch of Jehovah" (Isa 4:2). Christ is "Immanuel" ("God with us," Isa 7:14), who, though unrecognized by many today, will be revealed in His divine glory at His second coming (Mat 25:31).
  2. the "Branch of David" (Isa 11:1; Jer 23:5; 33:15), that is, the Messiah "of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Rom 1:3), who will be revealed in His earthly glory as King of kings and Lord of lords.
  3. Jehovah's "Servant the Branch" (Zech 3:8), who "humbled himself, even unto death" in obedience to God's will (Isa 52:13-15; 53:1-12; Php 2:5-8).
  4. the "man whose name is the Branch" (Zech 6:12,13), who, in His character as the Son of man, the "last Adam," "the second Man" (1Cor 15:45-47), will reign as Priest-King, over the earth in the dominion given to... and lost by... the first Adam.
These four aspects of the Branch correspond to the pictures painted by the four gospel accounts:
  • Matthew: the "Branch of David."
  • Mark: "Jehovah's Servant, the Branch."
  • Luke: "the man whose name is the Branch."
  • John: "the Branch of Jehovah."
[The numbered and bulleted points above are adapted from a note in the Scofield Reference Bible at Isaiah 4:2]
for behold the stone...- 'stone' (HB=eben, large or small stone, precious stone, common stone, plummet...)
...that I have laid before Joshua...- 'laid before' (HB=nathan, given to, provided for, presented to, designated unto).
These Hebrew words are used in similar language regarding the two tables of stone which the LORD 'gave' or 'delivered' to Moses (Ex 24:12; 31:18; Deu 5:22; 9:10,11). The two stone tablets bore commandments setting forth the standard of righteousness, first, in man's relationship to God, and second, in his relationship to other men. The commandments were written {engraved} by 'the finger of God.' The One, whose authority is unquestionable, presented His Law as unchangeable, 'written in stone.' But though Israel promised to keep God's commandments (Ex 19:8; 24:7), they were unable to fulfill their promise, because of the weakness of their sinful human nature.
     Therefore, God provided atonement for their sins through the sacrificial system. As the high priest performed his prescribed duties, and as he presented the blood of atonement in the Holy place, he bore the names of Israel's twelve tribes upon his shoulders, on two engraved stones (Ex 28:11,12).
     So, Joshua would have understood that the 'stone set before' him represented both the standard of righteousness and the means of cleansing, for him and for the people whom he represented as high priest.
for behold the stone... one stone...-
Joshua is presented, not two stones, but one unique stone. The righteousness which God will provide for His people is not a cooperative effort. Salvation is not a two part process in which both God and man participate. Man's failure to keep God's commandments was continually demonstrated by the necessity of repeated offerings for sin. Therefore, the Giver of the righteous standard must also be the provider of true righteousness. Salvation must be the work of God alone.
upon one stone... seven eyes...-
The seven eyes are "the eyes of the LORD" (cp. Zech 4:10; 2Chr 16:9). Thus, this 'stone' is alive with the fullness of God's Spirit, ensuring that He will fully accomplish God's purposes for His people.
- - Who is this stone? Scripture clearly identifies Him. See: Psa 118:22; Isa 8:14,15; 28:16; Mat 21:42-44; 1Pet 2:4-8; Rev 5:6).
...I will engrave the graving thereof...-
The stones on the high priest's shoulder were engraved by a skilled workman. But the LORD Himself would engrave this stone, as He had personally engraved the stone tables with His Law. That which would be done in and through the living stone would be entirely the work of God, completely apart from the work of man.
- - The literal meaning of the word 'engrave' {HB=pathach} is 'to open.' Observe the use of this word in Zech 13:1.
...I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day...-
  • The fountain for cleansing of sin was indeed opened in one day. cp. 1Tim 2:5,6; Heb 7:27; 9:25,26; 10:10-18; 1Joh 2:2
  • One day in the future, the Redeemer will return, and Israel will recognize and receive the stone which they had previously rejected. Their cleansing from sin will mark the beginning of Christ's Millennial Kingdom, which will be characterized by peace and rest, as described in v.10. cp. Isa 66:7-10; 59:20,21; Rom 11:26,27
in that day...shall ye call every man his neighbor under the vine and under the fig tree.
When the Kingdom of the 'stone cut out without hands' fills the earth (Dan 2:34,35), Israel and all the nations will enjoy peace and will serve the LORD with joy, free from satanic oppositon (cp. vs.1,2). Every man will be a neighbor {ie., fellow, companion, friend}. Everyone will relish the simple blessings of a world governed by the Prince of Peace. cp. 1Kin 4:25; Mic 4:1-4; Isa 9:6,7

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