3 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”
3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel.4 The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”
Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”
5 Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.
6 The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua: 7 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.
8 “‘Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. 9 See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.
10 “‘In that day each of you will invite your neighbor to sit under your vine and fig tree,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
(Zechariah 3:1-10 NIV)
Last time we looked at the third of eight visions given from the Lord to Zechariah the prophet. This third vision showed a man with a measuring line in his hand, measuring out the dimensions of the city of Jerusalem. God proclaimed that the city would be big enough for all who would come in. This included people of Jewish family origin as well as others who will become followers of God. All are welcome.
Today’s text is the fourth vision and focuses on one person – Joshua the high priest. The setting is that of a courtroom, with the angel of the Lord (representing God) acting as judge, Joshua the high priest (representing himself and the people of Israel) as the accused, and the adversary (representing all who are opposed to God and His people) as the accuser.
A quick technical note here: the NIV translates the accuser as “Satan”, a proper name. The Hebrew scholars tell us that there is an article (“the”) in front of the role (“adversary”), which means this is not a proper name (“Satan”). This should more properly be translated “the accuser” or “the adversary”.
The angel (speaking on behalf of God) rebukes the accuser for bringing false charges against Joshua (v. 2). Yes, Joshua was guilty as charged, as symbolized by his filthy clothes (which represent the sins of Joshua and the people of Israel) (v. 3).
But God had intervened and pardoned Joshua, forgiving him of all his sins, and restored him to his post as High Priest (v. 3). This pardon is symbolized by Joshua’s filthy garments being exchanged for priestly robes (v. 4).
Even Zechariah, as an observer, is moved by this exchange and suggests that Joshua be given a clean hat (turban) as well (v. 5).
In verses 6-7, the angel admonishes Joshua and the other priests to live a life worthy of their calling. In verse 8, the angel, speaking on behalf of God, says that God will send His servant (Messiah) one day to ultimately fulfill the role of High Priest which Joshua is fulfilling at that time.
Here we have a clear picture of Jesus saving the world (you and me) from sin once and forever – past, present, and future (v. 9).
When Messiah (Jesus) comes back to reign over all, there will be peace and contentment in the world (v. 10).
May we live fully into our calling, glorifying God in and through our lives.
May we look forward to that day when Christ comes again to rule the heavens and the earth.
Come, Lord Jesus!