The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Zechariah 3

Zec 3:1

Zec 3: The cleansing and restoration of the High Priest: "This vision describes the change of raiment and promise of glory for Joshua, the high priest, type of Jesus Christ. Faced with the [1] opposition of Satan: vv 1,2, the prophecy sees the wonderful and faithful toil of Joshua (Christ), for the restoration of the city of Jerusalem (the typical Brotherhood of Faith). The high priest is identified with a condition of uncleanness, and requires a change of raiment: vv 3-5. Then comes [2] The divine injunction: vv 6,7, and [3] The men of sign -- the company of associates to Joshua, who are elevated with him to glory. Thus is depicted the great Redeemer and his faithful Community, all redeemed form the nature of flesh to that of glory" (GEM).

See Lesson, Zec 3 and Enoch.

JOSHUA THE HIGH PRIEST STANDING...: "In Joshua the high priest we see a picture of each and every child of God, who has been made nigh by the blood of Christ, and has been taught to minister in holy things, and enter into that which is within the veil. Jesus has made us priests and kings unto God, and even here [and now] we exercise the priesthood of consecrated living and hallowed service. But this high priest is said to be 'standing before the angel of the Lord,' that is, standing to minister. This should be the perpetual position of every true believer. Every place is now God's temple, and His people can as truly serve Him in their daily employments as in His house. They are to be always 'ministering,' offering the spiritual sacrifice of prayer and praise, and presenting themselves a 'living sacrifice' " (CHS).

SATAN STANDING AT HIS RIGHT SIDE TO ACCUSE HIM: Historically, it was the Samaritans who constituted the "satan", or adversary -- opposing the building and the work of the Temple at Jerusalem. In NT times, the "satan" was the Pharisees and Sadducees, who opposed the work of the antitypical "Joshua", the Lord Jesus, in building the spiritual "temple" of God.

Standing at the right hand was the traditional place where an accuser stood in Jewish life (cp 1Ch 21:1; Psa 109:6).

Zec 3:2

THE LORD REBUKE YOU: And this petition was fulfilled both in the days of Zechariah (Ezra 6:7) and those of Christ (Luk 21:20-24).

THE LORD... WHO HAS CHOSEN JERUSALEM: Joshua was secure from "Satan's" accusations because of the LORD's sovereign choice of Jerusalem (cp Zec 12:2). "Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies" (Rom 8:33).

IS NOT THIS MAN A BURNING STICK SNATCHED FROM THE FIRE?: The LORD then referred to Joshua as a burning stick plucked from the fire (cp Amos 4:11). If Joshua represents the "priesthood" of Israel, then the fire must refer to the Babylonian captivity, in which Israel had been almost destroyed, and the stick refers to the surviving remnant of faithful. Israel had experienced another brush with extinction at the Exodus (Deu 4:20; 7:7,8; Jer 11:4); she would escape again -- at least, the "remnant" -- in 70 AD (Acts 2:19,20); and she will do so one final time in the Tribulation (Zec 13:8,9; Jer 30:7; Rev 12:13-17).

Zec 3:3

JOSHUA WAS DRESSED IN FILTHY CLOTHES: Joshua the High Priest labored right alongside the other Israelites, in the dirt and debris of the fallen Temple, in order to lay the foundation of the new Temple.

In type, this describes the fallen human nature (Mar 7:20-23; Rom 7:18) of the Lord Jesus Christ, who labored down in the debris and uncleanness with his fellowmen, to save them -- to save US! -- out of that condition. Cp Heb 4:15; 1Pe 2:24; Isa 53:6,10.

Zec 3:4

TAKE OFF HIS FILTHY CLOTHES... I HAVE TAKEN AWAY YOUR SIN...: The LORD then instructed others who were standing before Him, probably angelic servants, to remove Joshua's filthy garments (cp Exo 28:8,9,41; Lev 8:7-9; Num 20:28). The LORD explained that these garments symbolized the high priest's (Israel's) iniquities, which He had forgiven. He promised to remove his representative's filthy robes and replace them with festal, stately robes, the apparel of royalty and wealth, symbolic of God's righteousness (cp Isa 3:22). Thus God would restore Israel to her original calling as a priestly nation (cp Exo 19:16; Isa 61:6).

In typical fulfillment, this describes the Lord Jesus Christ, the "sin-bearer" for mankind, healed of his sin-prone mortal nature, and clothed upon with immortality: "While Zechariah was beholding, he saw the garments of Joshua, the High Priest, changed; and was instructed that the action represented the putting away of iniquity which the priest is supposed to bear. In this we see, by the light of NT, the change of nature, or body, in relation to the Christ, 'whom,' says Paul, 'we know henceforth no more after the flesh.' [2Co 5:16] He was crucified in 'flesh of sin;' and then sin was 'condemned in the flesh.' [Rom 8:3] But when he rose again he became spirit-body, called by Paul 'pneuma hagiosunes', spirit of holiness: Rom 1:4. He is now the Angel-High Priest of Jehovah, no longer oppressed with our filthy nature, but 'clothed in a garment white as snow' (Dan 7:9) reaching to the foot (Rev 1:13)" (Eur ch 1).

Zec 3:5

THEN I SAID, "PUT A CLEAN TURBAN ON HIS HEAD": Zechariah chimed in suggesting that the angelic dressers also put a clean turban on Joshua's head, which they did along with his other garments. A plaque on the front of the high priest's turban read "Holy to the Lord" (Exo 28:36; 39:30). This is what Israel will be in the future, a holy nation of holy priests. The LORD observed all that was happening, approving and directing all the changes in Joshua's condition.

In a NT context, this refers to Christ -- having been proved sinless -- being glorified (Phi 2:8-11), and constituted a High Priest forever, after a new and eternal order (Heb 7).

Zec 3:7

"Then the angel of the Lord admonished Joshua. He promised, in the name of sovereign Yahweh, that if Joshua obeyed the Lord and served Him, Joshua would govern the temple, have charge of the temple courts, and enjoy free access into the Lord's presence. He could come into the Lord's presence like the angels who stood before Him. Joshua's commission pertained to a priestly function within the framework of a covenant relationship. As always, faithful, obedient service leads to further opportunities for service.

The Lord specified two conditions and promised three results. The first condition was Israel's practical righteousness; she had to walk in His ways faithfully with heart and hand (cp Deu 10:12-22; 28:9). Second, she had to carry out her priestly duties faithfully. If Israel did these things, she would govern God's house (people and temple; cp Deu 17:8-13; Jer 31:7), have charge of His courts --keeping them pure (cp Isa 56:7; Jer 31:22), and enjoy free access to God (cp Exo 19:6; Isa 61:6; Heb 4:16; 10:19-22).

" 'In all this the person and work of Joshua's greater namesake, Jesus, was being anticipated. The faithful high priest of the pre-Christian era entered into God's presence as the Christian [believer priest] does "by grace through faith" [cp Heb 4:14-16]' (Baldwin)" (Const).

Zec 3:8

MEN SYMBOLIC OF THINGS TO COME: "The miracle, which is to be seen in Joshua and his priests, consists ... in the fact that the priesthood of Israel is laden with guilt, but by the grace of God it has been absolved, and accepted by God again, as the deliverance from exile shows, and Joshua and his priests are therefore brands plucked by the omnipotence of grace from the fire of merited judgment. This miracle of grace which has been wrought for them, points beyond itself to an incomparably greater and better act of the sin-absolving grace of God, which is still in the future" (KD).

MY SERVANT, THE BRANCH: This is a double title of Messiah (cp Zec 6:12; Psa 132:17; Isa 11:1; 53:2; Jer 23:5; 33:15). Here, as Yahweh's servant (Isa 42:1; 49:3, 5; 52:13; 53:11; Eze 34:23-24), Messiah would come into the world to do His Father's will, including redeeming, cleansing, and restoring Israel to God's intended place for her.

"As Branch, the Messiah is represented in the OT in four different aspects of his character (King, Servant, Man, and God). These aspects are developed in the NT in the four Gospels: (1) in Matthew as the Branch of David, ie, as the Davidic messianic King (Isa 11:1; Jer 23:5; 33:15); (2) in Mark as the Lord's Servant, the Branch (Isa 42:1; 49:6; 50:10; 52:13; Ezek 34:23-24; Zech 3:8); (3) in Luke as the Man whose name is the Branch (Zech 6:12); and (4) in John as a the Branch of the Lord (Isa 4:2)" (EBC).

Zec 3:9

THE STONE I HAVE SET IN FRONT OF JOSHUA: The stone, too, is a common figure of God and Messiah in the Bible (10:4; Exo 17:6; Num 20:7-11; Psa 118:22; etc). In the past God promised that the Stone would be a secure, never-failing refuge for His people (Isa 28:16; 1Pe 2:6). When Messiah appeared, however, He proved to be a stone over which the Jews stumbled and an offensive rock to them (Psa 118:22-23; Isa 8:13-15; Mat 21:42; 1Pe 2:4-9). Presently He is the foundation stone, the chief cornerstone of the church (Eph 2:19-22). And in the future He will be the great stone that smites the nations (Dan 2:35, 45).

THERE ARE SEVEN EYES ON THAT ONE STONE: Seven stones sig complete, divine intelligence (Zec 1:10; 4:10; 2Ch 16:9; Isa 11:2; Eze 1:18; 10:12; Col 2:3, 9; Rev 5:6). The eyes of the LORD -- ie the angels -- are watching over this "Stone", and helping it accomplish its desired work.

I WILL ENGRAVE AN INSCRIPTION UPON IT: What is engraved upon the Stone of Jesus? (1) the name of the Father, ie, Yahweh, found in "Yah-shua", the Salvation of God; (2) the reaffirmation of this at his baptism: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased!"; (3) the wounds in his hands and feet, by which he was "sealed" to the service of his Father; and ultimately (4) the reward he received: the divine nature:

"The writer, or engraver, is the Seven-Horned and Seven-Eyed Spirit (Zec 4:5; 5:6) who 'engraves the graving thereof'. When the dead body prepared for the Spirit (Heb 10:5) was restored to life, and had come forth from the sepulchre, the Spirit, 'in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,' engraved upon it, or impressed it with, every attribute necessary to constitute it 'the Lord from the heaven' -- He 'made it both Lord and Christ'. The precious stone had come out of the earth, whence all precious stones also come; but it had to be cut, polished, embroidered, and adorned, to bring out all the beauties of which it was susceptible. This the Spirit effected in the operation of raising the risen body to consubstantiality with the Deity.

"Now, it matters not whether it be one man to be made 'the Lord from heaven,' or a countless multitude of earthborns to be made the Holy Jerusalem 'descending from the Deity out of heaven' -- the operation is the same. Every individual is subjected to a like polishing, embroidering, and adorning, as saith the Spirit who will do the work. 'Him that overcometh,' saith he, 'I will make a pillar in the Nave of my Deity, and he shall go no more out; and I will write upon him the Name of my Deity, and the Name of the City of my Deity, New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my Deity; and my new Name' (Rev 3:12). To have the Name of Deity, the Name of the City, and the New Name, engraved or written upon one, is for such an one first to come into existence, and then, to become a constituent of the things engraved. He becomes one of the City of the Deity, New Jerusalem; and in the operation is married to the Spirit in so close and intimate a union, that he becomes one body, flesh, and bones, with the Spirit; so that all the earthiness and corruptibleness of his grave-body is 'swallowed up of life;' it loses its similitude to the nature of the first Adam; and acquires 'the heavenly image' of the Lord from heaven" (Eur 3:687).

I WILL REMOVE THE SIN OF THIS LAND IN A SINGLE DAY: Cp v 4. What Christ did for himself he also did on behalf of others: Heb 7:27; 9:28; 10:14. See also John 11:49-53; Zec 13:1; Isa 66:7,8; Rom 11:26,27.

Zec 3:10

EACH OF YOU WILL INVITE HIS NEIGHBOR TO SIT UNDER HIS VINE AND FIG TREE: Israel would enjoy peace and security as never before, even under the reign of Solomon (1Ki 4:25; cp 2Ki 18:31; Mic 4:4). Then God will lift the curse that He imposed on the creation at the Fall, and there will be agricultural prosperity as well as spiritual prosperity (Isa 11:1-9; 35; 65:17; Dan 7:13,14, 27; Mic 4:1-4). Paradise lost will become paradise regained.

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