Zechariah: My Servant the Branch (The Fourth Vision)

…behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch.

Zechariah 3:8

Zechariah’s fourth vision begins when the angel “showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him” (3:1).  This would be the same high priest named Joshua who was known by  Haggai, Zechariah’s contemporary (Hag. 1:1).  Some commentators believe Joshua symbolically stands for the entire priesthood of Israel, and thus for the entire nation itself.  This interpretation would have Satan (whose name by literal definition makes him our adversary) accusing the nation of Israel.  The Lord rebuked Satan and informed him that He “has chosen Jerusalem,” asking him, “Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” (3:2).  This is a possible reference to Judah’s deliverance from Babylonian captivity, but it is more likely a reference to Joshua’s – or the Jews’ – willingness to repent of sin (cf. Jude 23).

Joshua is then described as being “clothed with filthy garments” (3:3) which symbolize “iniquity” (3:4), either the sin committed by Joshua personally (cf. Is. 64:6) or the sin committed by the priesthood or nation in general (cf. Ezek. 22:26; Hos. 4:6-8; Mic. 3:11; Jer. 2:26-28; 5:30-31).  This could be Zechariah’s commentary on the spiritual state of the nation, considering that their spiritual leadership is described in such a negative way.    However, God is willing to forgive, as seen when He commanded those who stood before Him to take the filthy garments away from Joshua, announcing that He had removed his iniquity from him and would clothe him with “festal robes” along with, at Zechariah’s request, a “clean turban” (Middle Eastern male headware) on his head (3:4-5).  This symbolically parallels the wonderful blessing of forgiveness which is available to Christians today (Rev. 3:4-5; 7:14; cf. 1 John 1:9).

Then the angel of the Lord admonished Joshua by promising him that if he “will walk in My ways and…perform My service,” he would “govern” God’s house and “have charge” over God’s courts (3:6-7a), referring to the priestly responsibilities to keep temple worship according to God’s commandments laid out in the law of Moses.  He would also be granted “free access among these who are standing here” (3:7b); in other words, he would be qualified to stand in the presence of God among His angels.

He then gave the command to “listen” to Joshua and his friends who were sitting in front of him (possibly the restored priesthood of Israel), calling his friends “men who are a symbol” (3:8a).  He explained what He meant by this by announcing that “I am going to bring in My servant the Branch” (3:8b).  This is a prophecy about Jesus (Is. 11:1-2; cf. Matt. 3:16).  Just as a branch grows out of a tree, Jesus would grow out of the priesthood (Zech. 6:11-12; Is. 11:1-10; Jer. 23:5-6; 33:15).

The Lord then spoke of a stone upon which were seven eyes which He had laid before Joshua, and promised to “engrave an inscription on it” and “remove the iniquity of that land in one day” (3:9).  “In that day,” God promised, “every one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his fig tree” (3:10).  It is possible that the stone symbolizes the church, considering that the church was represented by a stone in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan. 2:44-45).  However, it’s more likely that the stone represents Christ (Lk. 20:17-18).  The seven eyes most likely symbolize the omniscience of Christ (John 2:24-25).  The engraved inscription possibly refers to either the seal of the solid foundation of God’s spiritual temple which is His church (2 Tim. 2:19; cf. 1 Cor. 3:9-11; Eph. 2:19-22), or to Jeremiah’s prophecy about the New Testament (Jer. 31:33-34), considering that Jeremiah uses language similar to the idea of engraving an inscription (“write it on their hearts”).  The day on which iniquity will be removed from the land most likely refers to the day the church was established.  That was when forgiveness of sins was obtained by those who believed the gospel, repented of their sins, and were baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38), thus bringing about the peace and serenity symbolically represented by the picture of inviting neighbors to sit under their vines and fig trees.

Have you obeyed the gospel, friend?

— Jon

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