Zechariah 3:1-2 The problem that this Zechariah wrestles with in his vision is: How can morally defiled and sinful people be made holy so that might stand and serve in the presence of God. How can they also be able to holy so that they represent God to mankind (Exodus 19:6)? There is only one way; it must be God who can take away our sin and transform us into His holy people. It was a problem then and remains a problem for us today.
In this chapter we learn through Zechariah’s vision, how God would cleanse the High Priest Joshua who had returned from the Babylonian Exile with Zerubbabel and it is similar fashion that we are cleansed and made able to be priests of the most High God. We see Joshua standing “the Angel of the Lord” (Zechariah 3:1), whom we have already identified (Zechariah 1:7-8) as a pre-incarnate appearance of the second person of the Trinity, Yeshua. Joshua was the main intercessor between God and Israel, he was the High Priest.
However Satan is right there as well who was rightly accusing him of his and Israel’s transgressions. Satan, whose name means “adversary” and is the enemy of God and all that He loves and has chosen. He stands accusing Joshua the High Priest but he is also daily accusing Israel and the Church. He is the accuser of the brethren (Job 1:6-10;2:1-7; Revelation 12:10).
But the Lord has made provision for Joshua and for us. The Lord is our righteousness, He is the one who removes our garments that have become soiled with sin and gives us the garments of righteousness. (Isaiah 61:10). The result is that when we stand before the accuser in the righteousness of Messiah we are defended by the Lord (Romans 8:33-34). The Lord Himself will rebuke the devil (Jude 9). We see Jude use two other phrases from Zechariah in Jude 23: “snatching them from the fire”; and “clothing stained”.
The Lord has not cast off His people or forgotten His promise just because Israel’s garments have become filthy because of their sin. Paul makes the same point in Romans 11:1. Israel and God’s people are disciplined but never forsaken. This is what is alluded to in the statement that Israel is a stick taken from the fire in Zechariah 3:2. Amos 4:11 used the same expression which also applies in too many cases to us as well. In the face of Israel’s misfortunes, trials, and judgments that come upon her God has been so merciful in preventing her from being destroyed.
Joshua the High Priest is the representative of his people, but the accusations that are brought by Satan are brought against all the people. But God’s mercy is greater than all the accusations because the Lord has chosen Zion and those grafted into her and He will not recant or back down from His promise.
Zechariah 3:3-4 We said that filthy clothing of Joshua is a picture of us all as Isaiah describes (Isaiah 64:6). The filth by the way is human waste which gives you an even better perspective of what our sin looks like to God. God commands that those garments be removed from him in Zechariah 3:4. And the Angel said he give him rich clothing instead. What a picture of the free forgiveness and removal of sin from all who confess their sin to the Lord. Joshua could no more cleanse himself than we can. These are the garments of salvation.
They are the perfect righteousness of our Yeshua and we can only stand before God in Messiah Galatians 3:27). Joshua was reinstated and reconsecrated by this replacing of his garments, and, since he was a “sign,” so are all who believe are assured of complete cleansing from God. In Zechariah 3:9 we are told that the sin of the land would be removed in “one day”. This day is described later in (Zechariah 12:10-13:1;Isaiah 4:3-4;Ezekiel 36:16-32).
Zechariah 3:5-7 – Not only did the Lord change Joshua’s clothing but he also put a clean turban on his head. This turban was worn with a plate on the forehead that said “Holy to the Lord” (Exodus 28:36, 38). God’s plan for His people was to be “a kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6). Again, in Isaiah 61:6, the whole nation is to be called one day to be “the Priests of the Lord.” This is true of all believers since they have been made partakers with Israel (1 Peter 2:5;Revelation 1:6).
Joshua’s garments remind us of how we will attired at the marriage feast of the Lamb, the great Passover Seder to come. We then, will be clothed in “fine linen, clean and bright,” and in “wedding garments” (Matthew 22:1-14;Revelation 19:6-18). The robes of righteousness are acquired by faith. They are given not just to Joshua, but to all who believe.
At this point the Lord, in the person of the Angel of the Lord in Zechariah 3:7, admonishes Joshua with the same words that are in Deuteronomy 5:33;8:6, the words David gave to Solomon in 1 Kings 2:3, as he was dying, and the words that were given to Joshua: “’If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house”. God’s “house” in this context means His people (Numbers 12:7;Hebrews 3:2).
The second reward for obedience is that he would have charge of God’s courts referring to the Temple which had been in ruins for over seventy years. A third reward for obedience is that he would have “a place among these standing here.” This may means having access among the angels an allusion to having direct access to God. The Targums which are interpretive translations of Scripture say:
“In the resurrection of the dead, I will revive you and give you feet walking among the seraphim,” meaning that those who kept God’s charge and lived according to His Word, would have the honor of being transplanted to higher service in heaven, after their work on earth was done, to walk among the angels. All of these honors and privileges are conditioned by obedience and faithfulness here and now.
Zechariah 3:8-10 – Joshua and his companions were “symbolic of things to come” (Zechariah 3:8). Even though Joshua and his companions were an imperfect symbol of the person and work of Joshua’s greater namesake, Yeshua, they teach us something about Yeshua. Just as the adversary accused Joshua and the Lord reinstates and recommissions him, so that the High Priest may once again intercede for Israel, so too did Yeshua restore the High Priesthood so that we might have access to God the Father, even as our Lord grants direct access to God to all believers.
Two titles of God’s Messiah appear in the last part of Zechariah 3:8: “My Servant” and “the Branch.” The first, “My Servant,” is the most frequently used title for the coming Messiah; it is even more frequently used than “Messiah.” A large number of the twenty appearances is in Isaiah 41-53 and refer to the coming Messiah.
Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah all used the word “branch” as a title for the Messiah (Isaiah 4:2;Jeremiah 23:5;33:15;Zechariah 6:12). This term connects the Messiah to Israel (Zechariah 6:12) and to the line of David (Isaiah 11:1). He would be of the line of David according to the flesh, the branch grown from the root of David.
In addition to the messianic title Branch, this passage uses the messianic title “stone.” In Zechariah 3:9. The stone had seven eyes and the inscription: “And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day”. The stone is the same one that Isaiah talked about (Isaiah 28:16).
Again, Psalm 118:22 declares, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” This stone is also reminiscent of the “stone” in Daniel 2:44-45. The reference to the seven eyes, may be used here because seven is the number of completeness, or to the sevenfold fullness of the one Spirit of the Lord on the Messiah (Isaiah 11:2). In this passage about the stone, God promises, as we have said earlier, that He would remove the iniquity of the land in one day (Zechariah 3:9).
This fourth vision concludes in Zechariah 3:10 with a picture of that day that follows the returni of the Messiah when atonement for Israel is made and the nations are judged and the Lord’s rule and reign on earth begins for a millennium. Everyone will be sitting under his own vine and fig tree the pastoral picture of the return to the garden filled with contentment and happiness (1 Kings 4:25;2 Kings 18:31;Micah 4:4).
In the anti-type of Joshua, we see Yeshua who has made provision for our sins. His atoning death has cleansed us from all our sin and provided forgiveness and reconciliation. In one day, God will similarly move on Israel that she too will confess her sins and be forgiven by God in a single day. All those who are part of God’s “house” will want to rejoice in what God will do for Israel, for too they will benefit by the same work of God’s love and grace.