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Fourth Vision: Joshua and Satan


Then he showed me the high priest Joshua standing before the angel of the L ord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2And the L ord said to Satan, “The L ord rebuke you, O Satan! The L ord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this man a brand plucked from the fire?” 3Now Joshua was dressed with filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” And to him he said, “See, I have taken your guilt away from you, and I will clothe you with festal apparel.” 5And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with the apparel; and the angel of the L ord was standing by.

6 Then the angel of the L ord assured Joshua, saying 7“Thus says the L ord of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. 8Now listen, Joshua, high priest, you and your colleagues who sit before you! For they are an omen of things to come: I am going to bring my servant the Branch. 9For on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven facets, I will engrave its inscription, says the L ord of hosts, and I will remove the guilt of this land in a single day. 10On that day, says the L ord of hosts, you shall invite each other to come under your vine and fig tree.”

Now follows another reason for the prophecy, — that God interposes and takes the part of his Church against Satan. Hence he says, Rebuke thee Satan let Jehovah, 3434     We may render the words, —
   Rebuke thee, Satan, will Jehovah,
Yea, rebuke thee will Jehovah,
Who hath chosen Jerusalem.

   Thus Dathius and Blayney render the passage. Adam Clarke and Henderson adopt the notion that Jude 1:9, refers to this vision, taking evidently for just reasons, rejects this opinion. — Ed.
rebuke thee let Jehovah, who has chosen Jerusalem. God speaks here; and yet he seems to be the angel of Jehovah: 3535     Newcome introduces the word angel at the beginning of the second verse unnecessarily, merely on the authority of the Syriac; for in the preceding visions, “Jehovah” and “the angel of Jehovah” are used indiscriminately. It is impossible not to see that here and in the first chapter a person is mentioned as being Jehovah, and the angel or messenger of Jehovah. See on this subject M’Caul’s observations in his translation of Kimchi on Zechariah, from page 9 to 27. — Ed. but this is not inscrutable; for as in the last verse, where Zechariah says that Joshua stood before the Angel of Jehovah, Christ is doubtless meant, who is called an angel and also Jehovah; so also he may be named in this verse. But that no contentious person may say that we refine on the words too much, we may take them simply thus, — that God mentions here his own name in the third person; and this mode of so speaking is not rare in Scripture,

“Jehovah rained from God.” (Genesis 19:24).

Why did Moses speak thus? Even to show that when God fulminated against Sodom, he did not adopt a common mode of proceeding, but openly showed that it was an unusual and a singular judgment. Thus the expression here is emphatic, Rebuke thee let Jehovah, that is, I myself will rebuke thee. However, were any one to consider well the whole context, he could not but allow that the words may properly be applied to Christ, who is the portion of his Church, and that therefore he was the angel before whom Joshua stood; and he himself shows afterwards that the Church would be safe under his patronage. Let Jehovah then rebuke thee, Satan, let him rebuke thee. The repetition more fully confirms what Zechariah meant to show, even that sufficient protection would be found in God alone for the preservation of the Church, how much soever Satan might employ all his powers for its ruin, and that though God would not immediately give help and restrain Satan, yet a firm hope was to be entertained, for this would be done in time the most seasonable. The import of the whole is, — that though God had hitherto let loose Satan to assail the Church as to the priesthood, yet God would be the faithful guardian of his Church, and would check Satan, that he might not execute what he intended; and further, that many contests must be patiently endured, until the period of the warfare be completed. We now then see what the Prophet had in view in these words.

But the rebuke of God is not to be regarded as being only in words, but must be referred to that power by which God subverts and lays prostrate all the attempts of Satan. At the same time he mentions the end for which this rebuke was given; it was, that the Church might continue safe and secure, Let Jehovah, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee. These words are to be read, not apart, but as joined with the former, as though he had said, “Let God raise up his hand for the salvation of his chosen people, so as to put thee, Satan, to flight with all thy furies.” This is the meaning. Let us therefore know, that God is not simply the enemy of Satan, but also one who has taken us under his protection, and who will preserve us safe to the end. Hence God, as our Redeemer and the eternal guardian of our salvation, is armed against Satan in order to restrain him. The warfare then is troublesome and difficult, but the victory is not doubtful, for God ever stands on our side.

But we are at the same time reminded, that we are not to regard what we have deserved in order to gain help from God; for this wholly depends on his gratuitous adoption. Hence, though we are unworthy that God should fight for us, yet his election is sufficient, as he proclaims war against Satan in our behalf. Let us then learn to rely on the gratuitous adoption of God, if we would boldly exult against Satan and all his assaults. It hence follows, that those men who at this day obscure, and seek, as far as they can, to extinguish the doctrine of election, are enemies to the human race; for they strive their utmost to subvert every assurance of salvation.

He at last adds, Is not this a brand snatched from the fire? 3636     “Out of Ur of the Chaldees, out of the Babylonian fiery furnace.” — Ass. Annot. Here God makes known the favor he had manifested towards the high priest, that the faithful might be convinced that Joshua would overcome his enemies, as God would not forsake his own work; for the end ever corresponds with the beginning as to God’s favor; he is never wearied in the middle course of his beneficence. This is the reason why he now objects to Satan and says, “Why! God has wonderfully snatched this priest as a brand from the burning: as then the miraculous power of God appears in the return of the high priest, what dost thou mean, Satan? Thou risest up against God, and thinkest it possible to abolish the priesthood, which it has pleased him in his great favor hitherto to preserve. See whence has the priest come forth. While he was in Chaldea, he seemed to be in the lower regions; yet God delivered him from thence: and now, when he sits in the temple and is performing his office, is it possible for thee to pull down from heaven him whom thou could not detain in hell?” We now perceive the meaning of the Prophet as to this similitude. He then adds —

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