A Renewed and Cleansed Priesthood

Zechariah Chapter Three

Zechariah Three (Zec. 3:1) And he showed me Joshua the High Priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.

"Satan," , means adversary or enemy or accuser. A cognate, "sitnah," , means accusation and hostility. Satan standing at Joshua's right hand before the angel depicts the adversary with an accusation of corruption against the High Priest. Hence the vile clothing. This is the clothing Joshua has received from the past. See verse 3 below.

"To resist him," lesatan , in Hebrew is an infinitive of the verbal form of "satan." The Hebrew text says "to satan him"! meaning to accuse him.

(Zec. 3:2) And the LORD said to Satan, The LORD rebuke you, O Satan; even the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you; is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?

"The LORD (Yahweh) rebuke you!" Each occurrence of LORD in this verse is the name of God. Because He can call on none higher He rebukes by himself. Christians are admonished to respect the power of Satan because even the chief angel did not curse or rail against him as in Jude 1:9, "Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, did not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The LORD rebuke you."

"Plucked out of the fire." Joshua has been saved!

(Zec. 3:3) Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. (Zec. 3:4) And he answered and spoke to those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And to him he said, Behold, I have caused your iniquity to pass from you, and I will clothe you with change of garments.

The filthy clothes are a symbol of the corruption of the unholy former members of the office of High Priest. These clothes represent the condition of the priesthood as described in Jeremiah and Ezekiel when the priesthood was corrupted by idolatry and avarice. These are stripped away from Joshua, and a new set of clean garments point to a restored and revived holiness in the priesthood. Satan's rebuke is complete. He has nothing now to accuse.

(Zec. 3:5) And I said, Let them set a fair mitre on his head. So they set a fair mitre on his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by.

This completes the figure.

(Zec. 3:6) And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying,

"The angel protested." Hebrew "ya'ad," , to intensify a witnessing or warning by repetition. He warned by repeated witness. As if to say, "Don't do it again!" Repetition is God's method of teaching and he instructed his followers to use that method. The Hebrew word, "shanan," meaning teach, literally means to do it over again or "two times."

(Zec. 3:7) Thus says the LORD of hosts; If you will walk in my ways, and if you keep my charge, then you shall also judge my house, and shall also keep my courts, and I will give you places to walk among these that stand by.

"Walk" is the key word in this verse.

"Places to walk." "Mehelakiym," , from "halak," , to walk is translated here "places to walk." The Hebrew is "walkways."

"Among these that stand by." These that stand by are the angels. This promise is to Joshua but can be seen to be a true promise to all children of Zion. Walkways among the angels is reality for those who love and obey.

The Branch

(Zec. 3:8) Hear now, O Joshua the High Priest, you, and your fellows that sit before you: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch.

This material has been outlined in chapter IX and is included here again in its proper place in the commentary. These prophecies are so wonderfully fulfilled in Jesus yet unwittingly completed by his detractors. There is also a Branch prophecy in chapter six.

(Zec. 6:12) And speak to him, saying, Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the Temple of the LORD.

These two references to the Branch must speak of the same person. It is obvious that Joshua who is being addressed cannot be the branch which he is told will come in the future. Joshua, who bears the same human name (Joshua is the Hebrew form of the Greek Jesus), is a symbol and type of the "Branch" because he had a leading part in building the second Temple which was under construction when this message was given to him. The Messiah is spoken of here as in other Branch prophecies, all of which follow:

(Isa. 4:2) In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. (Isa. 11:1) And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots; (Isa. 11:2) And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; (Isa. 11:10) And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek; and his rest shall be glorious. (Jer. 23:5) Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that I will raise to David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. (Jer. 23:6) In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jer. 33:15) In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up to David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. (Jer. 33:16) In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely; and this is the name wherewith he shall be called, The LORD our righteousness.

There are two Hebrew words translated branch in these Messianic prophecies. It is obvious from reading them that they refer to one and the same hoped for Messiah who shall be called the Branch.

These Branch prophecies say that the man, the Branch, to come shall be of the house of David; he will be a judge; he will be a king, he will be a priest; he will be the LORD Our Righteousness; he will save Israel and Judah; he will build the Temple of God; in him will the Gentiles trust. Attention given to the context of these Branch prophecies will show that the Branch clearly refers to the Messiah, and Jesus has astonishingly paralleled these predictions, especially the last, that is, "in him will the Gentiles trust."

His name is the Branch. The two Hebrew words for Branch are obviously interchanged. One is "tsemach" , (transliterated zemach) used in all the above verses for branch except Isaiah 11:1 where "natser," , (transliterated Nazer) is found. Jesus is called this latter word literally. The hometown of Jesus is Nazareth (Fem. plural of Nazer is Nazeroth). Many religious Jews will not mention Jesus' name. They certainly will not call him Christ (Messiah). He is most often referred to as The Nazarene. Some Jews call him the Notsri and Christians the Notsriym . Consequently they are calling him by his name, "The Branch," and literally fulfilling prophecy. Thus he is so called by those who believe in him least.

"He shall build the Temple of the LORD." The Branch refers to the Messiah. The Temple is the kingdom of the Messiah. It is clear that Gentiles have trusted in the LORD since the time of the Nazarene (Branch) through the building of the church done by Jesus the Nazarene who as we have shown is literally "the Branch."

Seven Eyes

(Zec. 3:9) For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; on one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving of it, says the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.

Hebrew, "shivah 'eynayim," , (seven eyes) is dual, not plural, and means seven pairs of eyes. Hebrew has three numbers for nouns, not just singular and plural as we have but also a dual which means "a pair of." Thus the Hebrew word for horse is "sus," horses is "susiym," a pair of horses (a team) is "susayim." An ear is "ozen," ears is "ozniym" but "oznayim" means a pair of ears. In Dan. 12 the word "times" in the expression "time, times and half a time" is not a simple plural but is dual or "mo'edayim" and means a pair of years or "two years." Thus in Hebrew the symbol is clearly three and a half years. Here it is seven pairs of eyes.

Engraving "Maphteach petachah," , is translated, "engrave the .engraving of it," which is a possible rendering favored by the masoretic text and KJV. But "petach," , almost always means a door or an opening. "Maphteach," , is still, in current Hebrew, the word for a key that unlocks. The imagery, "I will unlock the door thereof," is not any less consistent with the context than the traditional translation.

(Zec. 3:10) In that day, says the LORD of hosts, shall you call every man his neighbor under the vine and under the fig tree.

This passage speaks of both the physical blessings in the restored nation as well as the physical symbol of blessings in Messiah's kingdom. The prophets often use physical blessings as a symbol of the great spiritual blessings of the Messianic age. Amos 9:11-15 is one of the clearest examples which speaks of most of the future blessings spoken of by Zechariah. Those being the nations subdued before Israel, the Branch of David restored, physical abundance, cities of Judea rebuilt and inhabited, the return of the captives to great blessings of grain and sweet wine, possession of the land in perpetuity with divine protection. The passage in Amos is quoted by James the brother of Jesus of Nazareth, "The Branch," and is applied to the evangelizing of the Gentiles and growth of the Gospel. In Acts 15:14 James says

"Simon has declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. (Acts 15:15) And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, (Acts 15:16) After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins of it, and I will set it up; (Acts 15:17) That the residue of men might seek after the LORD, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, says the LORD, who does all these things. (Acts 15:18) Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world."

The physical blessings mentioned in Amos not cited by James must be understood as illustrations of spiritual blessings connected with this passage. Much of Zechariah must be seen as prefiguring the restoration of Judah which will ultimately bring in the Messianic age in the same way. However there is a very real sense in which Zechariah foresees a restored nation, city, Temple, and priesthood. He foresees that physically and much more. For further and more elaborate explanation of the spiritual fulfillment of like prophecies see notes on chapter fourteen (XIV).

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