Fourth Vision. Joshua the high priest
before the angel of Jehovah; accused by Satan, but justified by Jehovah
through Messiah the coming Branch.
1. Joshua as high priest (Hag 1:1) represents "Jerusalem" (Zec 3:2), or the elect people, put on its trial,
and "plucked" narrowly "out of the fire." His attitude, "standing
before the Lord," is that of a high priest ministering before the altar
erected previously to the building of the temple (Ezr 3:2, 3,
6; Ps 135:2). Yet, in this
position, by reason of his own and his people's sins, he is represented
as on his and their trial (Nu 35:12).
he showed me—"He" is the
interpreting angel. Jerusalem's (Joshua's) "filthy garments" (Zec 3:3) are its sins which had hitherto
brought down God's judgments. The "change of raiment" implies its
restoration to God's favor. Satan suggested to the Jews that so
consciously polluted a priesthood and people could offer no acceptable
sacrifice to God, and therefore they might as well desist from the
building of the temple. Zechariah encourages them by showing that their
demerit does not disqualify them for the work, as they are accepted in
the righteousness of another, their great High Priest, the Branch
3:8), a scion of their own
royal line of David (Isa 11:1).
The full accomplishment of Israel's justification and of Satan the
accuser's being "rebuked" finally, is yet future (Re 12:10). Compare Re 11:8, wherein "Jerusalem," as here, is shown
to be meant primarily, though including the whole Church in general
Satan—the Hebrew term meaning
"adversary" in a law court: as devil is the Greek term,
meaning accuser. Messiah, on the other hand, is "advocate" for
His people in the court of heaven's justice (1Jo 2:1).
standing at his right hand—the usual
position of a prosecutor or accuser in court, as the left
hand was the position of the defendant (Ps 109:6). The "angel of the Lord" took the same
position just before another high priest was about to beget the
forerunner of Messiah (Lu 1:11), who
supplants Satan from his place as accuser. Some hence explain Jude 9 as referring to this passage: "the
body of Moses" being thus the Jewish Church, for which Satan
contended as his by reason of its sins; just as the "body of Christ" is
the Christian Church. However, Jude 9 plainly speaks of the literal body of
Moses, the resurrection of which at the transfiguration Satan seems to
have opposed on the ground of Moses' error at Meribah; the same divine
rebuke, "the Lord rebuke thee," checked Satan in contending for
judgment against Moses' body, as checked him when demanding judgment
against the Jewish Church, to which Moses' body corresponds.
2. the Lord—Jehovah, hereby identified with the "angel of the
Lord (Jehovah)" (Zec 3:1).
rebuke thee—twice repeated to express
the certainty of Satan's accusations and machinations against Jerusalem
being frustrated. Instead of lengthened argument, Jehovah
silences Satan by the one plea, namely, God's choice.
chosen Jerusalem—(Ro 9:16; 11:5). The conclusive answer. If the
issue rested on Jerusalem's merit or demerit, condemnation must be the
award; but Jehovah's "choice" (Joh 15:16) rebuts Satan's charge against Jerusalem
(Zec 1:17; 2:12; Ro 8:33, 34, 37), represented by Joshua (compare in the
great atonement, Le 16:6-20, &c.), not that she may continue in
sin, but be freed from it (Zec 3:7).
brand plucked out of …
fire—(Am 4:11; 1Pe 4:18; Jude 23). Herein God implies that His acquittal
of Jerusalem is not that He does not recognize her sin (Zec 3:3, 4, 9), but that having punished her
people for it with a seventy years' captivity, He on the ground of His
electing love has delivered her from the fiery ordeal; and when
once He has begun a deliverance, as in this case, He will perfect it
(Ps 89:30-35; Php 1:6).
3. filthy garments—symbol of sin (Pr
30:12; Isa 4:4; 64:6);
proving that it is not on the ground of His people's righteousness that
He accepts them. Here primarily the "filthy garments" represent the
abject state temporally of the priesthood and people at the return from
Babylon. Yet he "stood before the angel." Abject as he was, he was
before Jehovah's eye, who graciously accepts His people's
services, though mixed with sin and infirmity.
4. those that stood before him—the
ministering angels (compare the phrase in 1Ki 10:8; Da
Take away the filthy garments—In Zec 3:9 it is "remove the iniquity of
that land"; therefore Joshua represents the land.
from him—literally, "from upon him";
pressing upon him as an overwhelming burden.
change of raiment—festal robes of the
high priest, most costly and gorgeous; symbol of Messiah's imputed
righteousness (Mt 22:11).
The restoration of the glory of the priesthood is implied: first,
partially, at the completion of the second temple; fully realized in
the great High Priest Jesus, whose name is identical with
Joshua (Heb 4:8), the
Representative of Israel, the "kingdom of priests" (Ex 19:6); once clad in the filthy garments of
our vileness, but being the chosen of the Father (Isa 42:1;
44:1; 49:1-3), He hath by
death ceased from sin, and in garments of glory entered the heavenly
holy place as our High Priest (Heb 8:1; 9:24). Then, as the consequence (1Pe 2:5), realized in the Church generally
15:22; Re 19:8), and in
Israel in particular (Isa 61:10;
compare Isa 3:6; 66:21).
5. And I said—Here the prophet,
rejoicing at the change of raiment so far made, interposes to ask for
the crowning assurance that the priesthood would be fully restored,
namely, the putting the miter or priestly turban on Joshua: its
fair color symbolizing the official purity of the order
restored. He does not command, but prays; not "Set," but "Let them
set." Vulgate and Syriac version read it, "He then
said," which is the easier reading; but the very difficulty of the
present Hebrew reading makes it less likely to come from a
modern corrector of the text.
angel of … Lord stood by—the
Divine Angel had been sitting (the posture of a judge, Da 7:9); now He "stands" to see that
Zechariah's prayer be executed, and then to give the charge (Zec 3:6, 7).
6. protested—proceeded solemnly to
declare. A forensic term for an affirmation on oath (Heb 6:17, 18). God thus solemnly states the end
for which the priesthood is restored to the people, His own glory in
their obedience and pure worship, and their consequent promotion to
7. God's choice of Jerusalem (Zec 3:2) was unto its sanctification
(Joh 15:16; Ro 8:29); hence the charge here which connects
the promised blessing with obedience.
my charge—the ordinances, ritual and
moral (Nu 3:28, 31, 32, 38; Jos 1:7-9; 1Ki
2:3; Eze 44:16).
judge my house—Thou shalt long preside
over the temple ceremonial as high priest (Le
10:10; Eze 44:23; Mal 2:7)
[Grotius]. Or, rule over My house, that
is, My people [Maurer] (Nu 12:7; Ho
8:1). We know from De 17:9 that the priest judged cases. He
was not only to obey the Mosaic institute himself, but to see that it
was obeyed by others. God's people are similarly to exercise judgment
hereafter, as the reward of their present faithfulness (Da
7:18, 22; Lu 19:17; 1Co 6:2);
by virtue of their royal priesthood (Re 1:6).
keep my courts—guard My house from
places to walk—free ingress and egress
(1Sa 18:16; 1Ki 3:7; 15:17), so that thou mayest go through these
ministering angels who stand by Jehovah (Zec 4:14; 6:5; 1Ki
22:19) into His presence,
discharging thy priestly function. In Eze 42:4 the same Hebrew word is used of a
walk before the priests' chambers in the future temple.
Zechariah probably refers here to such a walk or way;
Thou shalt not merely walk among priests like thyself, as in the old
temple walks, but among the very angels as thine associates.
Hengstenberg translates, "I will give
thee guides (from) among these," &c. But there is no "from"
in the Hebrew; English Version is therefore better. Priests are
called angels or "messengers" (Mal 2:7); they are therefore thought worthy to
be associated with heavenly angels. So these latter are present at the
assemblies of true Christian worshippers (1Co 11:10; compare Ec 5:6; Eph 3:10; Re
8. Hear—On account of the magnitude of
what He is about to say, He at once demands solemn attention.
thy fellows that sit before thee—thy
subordinate colleagues in the priesthood; not that they were actually
then sitting before him; but their usual posture in
consultations was on chairs or benches before him, while he sat on an
elevated seat as their president.
they are—From speaking to Joshua He
passes to speaking of him and them, in the third person, to the
attendant angels (compare Zec 3:9).
men wondered at—Hebrew, "men of
wonder," that is, having a typical character (Isa 8:18; 20:3; Eze 12:11; 24:24). Joshua the high priest typifies
Messiah, as Joshua's "fellows" typify believers whom Messiah admits to
share His Priesthood (1Pe 2:5; Re 5:10). This, its typical character, then, is
a pledge to assure the desponding Jews that the priesthood shall be
preserved till the great Antitype comes. There may be also an indirect
reproof of the unbelief of the multitude who "wonder" at God's servants
and even at God's Son incredulously (Ps 71:7; Isa 8:18; 53:1, &c.).
behold—marking the greatness of what
my servant—the characteristic title of
Messiah (Isa 42:1; 49:3;
50:10; 52:13; 53:11; Eze 34:23, 24).
the Branch—Messiah, a tender branch
from the almost extinct royal line of David (Zec 6:12; Isa 4:2; 11:1; Jer 23:5; 33:15). Lu 1:78, where for "day spring," "branch" may be
substituted (Mal 4:2,
however, favors English Version). The reference cannot be to
Zerubbabel (as Grotius thinks), for
he was then in the full discharge of his office, whereas "the
Branch" here is regarded as future.
9. For—expressing the ground for
encouragement to the Jews in building the temple: I (Jehovah) have laid
the (foundation) stone as the chief architect, before (in the presence
of) Joshua, by "the hand of Zerubbabel" (Zec 4:10; Ezr 3:8-13), so that your labor in building
shall not be vain. Antitypically, the (foundation) stone alluded to is
Christ, before called "the Branch." Lest any should think from that
term that His kingdom is weak, He now calls it "the stone," because of
its solidity and strength whereby it is to be the foundation of the
Church, and shall crush all the world kingdoms (Ps 118:22; compare Isa
28:16; Da 2:45; Mt 21:42; 1Co 3:11; 1Pe 2:6, 7). The angel pointing to the chief stone
lying before Him, intimates that a deeper mystery than the material
temple is symbolized. Moore thinks the
"stone" is the Jewish Church, which Jehovah engages watchfully
to guard. The temple, rather, is that symbolically. But the
antitype of the foundation-stone is Messiah.
upon one stone shall be seven
eyes—namely, the watchful "eyes" of Jehovah's care ever fixed
"upon" it (Zec 4:10)
[Maurer]. The eye is the symbol of
Providence: "seven," of perfection (Re 5:6; compare 2Ch 16:9; Ps 32:8). Antitypically, "the seven eyes upon
the stone" are the eyes of all angels (1Ti 3:16), and of all saints (Joh 3:14, 15;
12:32), and of the patriarchs
and prophets (Joh 8:56; 1Pe 1:10, 11), fixed on Christ; above all, the eyes
of the Father ever rest with delight on Him. Calvin (perhaps better) considers the seven
eyes to be carved on the stone, that is, not the eyes of the
Father and of angels and saints ever fixed on Him, but His
own sevenfold (perfect) fullness of grace, and of gifts of the
Spirit (Isa 11:2, 3; Joh 1:16; 3:34; Col
1:19; 2:9), and His
watchful providence now for the Jews in building the temple, and always
for His Church, His spiritual temple. Thus the "stone" is not as other
stones senseless, but living and full of eyes of perfect
intelligence (1Pe 2:4, "a
living stone"), who not only attracts the eyes (Joh 12:32) of His people, but emits illumination
so as to direct them to Him.
engrave … graving—implying
Messiah's exceeding beauty and preciousness; alluding to the polished
stones of the temple: Christ excelled them, as much as God who
"prepared His body" (Heb 10:5;
2:21) is superior to all
remove … iniquity of that land in one
day—that is, the iniquity and its consequences, namely the
punishment to which the Jews heretofore had been subjected (Hag 1:6,
9-11). The remission of sin
is the fountain of every other blessing. The "one day" of its
removal is primarily the day of national atonement celebrated
after the completion of the temple (Le 23:27) on the tenth day of the seventh month.
Antitypically, the atonement by Messiah for all men, once for
all ("one day") offered, needing no repetition like the Mosaic
sacrifices (Heb 10:10, 12, 14).
10. under … vine … fig
tree—emblem of tranquil prosperity (1Ki 4:25). Type of spiritual peace with
God through Christ (Ro 5:1); and
of millennial blessedness (Mic 4:4).