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Lowell Brueckner

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I repeat: If you will read the biblical text first, then go on to peruse my comments with the open Bible handy, you will see exactly to what I am referring. This is the way that a Bible study works and the idea is to perceive what the Author, the Holy Spirit, wanted to share with His prophet, Zechariah, so that he would write His thoughts, first of all, for the benefit of the people of his day. Then, as He knew perfectly well, these words would be transferred through the millenniums until they found the people, who would experience personally their final fulfillment.

An expository study of the book of Zechariah

Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died.”           Romans 8:33, 34

Chapter three: The fourth vision

The judgment of Joshua

Before we begin this study, we ought to know that Joshua is symbolic. That is clearly revealed later in verses 8-10 and this vision points to a future time. Joshua was the high priest in the time of Zechariah, who received the order to rebuild the temple. In a court scene, he is before the Angel of the Lord. Satan, the accusing attorney, is at his right hand and is opposing the work that God wants to carry out (v.1). He always finds plenty of evidence for his case. How we need the paracletos… a Defense Attorney, a Helper, a Comforter!

The Angel of the Lord is the Mediator between Joshua and the Father, and in the name of the Father, He rebukes Satan (v.2). We might think that Jude 9 refers to this case, because of the similar words, “The Lord rebuke you!”, but Jude mentions the archangel Michael and the body of Moses, who is accused because of his sin at Meribah. So this is another case. We note three things that the Lord (the Son) does: 1) He rebukes Satan, 2) by His grace, He elects an unworthy Joshua, and 3) he reveals a purpose for Jerusalem. God rebukes the satanic opposition to the people and places, where God is working. This man is already condemned… God knows exactly everything, of which Satan accuses him. He knew it before he chose him, but he rescues and saves him.

He has saved him as “a brand plucked from the fire”. This was John Wesley’s motto, because as a little boy, John was left in the family home, when it was in flames and everyone else had abandoned it. He jumped from the upstairs window into the arms of a neighbor. It is the story of every servant of God; truthfully, it is the testimony of every Christian. As Isaac was saved at the last moment from the upraised knife, and as Israel many times was saved in the nick of time from extinction throughout history and as late as World War II, again the Lord extends His arm in salvation. “A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out, until He leads justice to victory, and in His name the Gentiles will hope” (Mt.12:20-21, quoting Is.43:3). We glory in this hope!

 Satan is accusing Joshua because of his filthy garments (v.3). They are filthy and possibly partially burnt, because he has been in a fire. Israel has been held captive in Babylon and there experienced another liberation, similar to their salvation from Egypt (Jer.23:7-8). The question is, how can one, who is so filthy, be used of God? Therefore, he must appear before the Angel of the Lord. Joshua himself says nothing, but the Angel of the Lord takes his case in hand. He is the Mediator.

 In the vision, Joshua as high priest represents the whole nation (v.9). First, the angels are ordered to take off the dirty garments (v.4), and then the Angel of the Lord gives him words of assurance. He wants him to know that his sin has been removed. He also tells him of his new festive robes. He teaches him these great truths, so that he can recognize them, appreciate them and rejoice in them. He receives the perfect robes of righteousness from the heavenly High Priest, Christ, so that he can present himself before God, worthy of the ministry that he has before him. They are elegant festive robes, decked with gold and precious gems (Rev.19:8). These are given to him; they were not his.

 He gave him a clean turban along with the robes (v.5). “You shall set the turban on his head and put the holy crown on the turban” (Ex.29:6). “You shall also make a plate of pure gold and shall engrave on it, like the engravings of a seal, ‘Holy to the Lord’ (Ex.28:36). The priestly robes were complete; it is finished!

The Angel is now standing to pronounce the verdict (v.6). In spite of the fact that the kingdom of darkness has presented its best case, by the hand of its greatest prosecuting attorney, Satan himself, the verdict is in favor of the defendant and he is proclaimed, ‘not guilty’, pardoned and justified. Here is Joshua, elegantly clothed with new, clean robes, crowned with glory! Who can accuse him? Who can condemn him?

What is happening now is more than forgiveness and a change of clothing. Salvation is more than forgiveness; it is a new life. That is what Paul describes as an end of an old life and the beginning of a new one. “Lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted… put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph.4:22,24). Because it is more than a change of clothing, but the beginning of a new life of service to the Lord, the Angel speaks to Joshua, solemnly declaring  the conditions of the Lord of Hosts, for carrying out His service. 1) He is to walk in His ways, not in the ways of men, 2) He is to perform His service, faithfully fulfilling his priestly service (Rev.1:6), 3) He is to govern or judge His house with discipline (1 Co.6:2), 4) He is to have charge of His courts, protecting them from all that might corrupt. In the final, perfect and eternal service, the priesthood will be accompanied by angels. The angel, who showed this things to the Apostle John, told him that he was his co-servant (Rev.22:9). 

The significance of the vision

Joshua and his priestly companions are symbols; literally they are men of wonder (v.8). It is impossible to observe this fourth vision without considering the Man, who took our sins and the rags of our unrighteousness. Our High Priest, the Joshua of the New Testament: “You will call His name Jesus (the identical name of the Old Testament Joshua), for He shall save His people from their sins.” We should never lose or let the wonder of the significance of this scene fade. May we always be in awe of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Christians are companions of the High Priest, a nation of priests, who ought to cause astonishment in society, no matter where they live. People should be asking, “What different kind of people are these?” The only answer is that Christ lives in them. They are ‘signs and wonders’, as it states in Isaiah 8:18: “Behold I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel” (it is quoted in Heb.2:13). Thousands upon thousands of individuals have been pardoned and clothed anew with festive elegance; they have been made priest and kings for God.

Zechariah was a prophet, indwelt by the Spirit of Christ. He takes us beyond the events of his day to testify of Him who is beyond compare. “Behold… Listen now!" (v.9). Pay attention to this unparalleled news, because the wonder that we have symbolically viewed, fades in the reality that is before us now. “I am going to bring in My servant (Is.42:1; 52:13;  53:11) the Branch (Ze.6:12; Is.11:1; 53:2; Jer.23:5; 33:15). The Branch signifies a new bud or shoot, appearing where the old branch was cut, bringing new hope of a glory that had disappeared, revitalizing an oppressed Israel.

Christ is the Cornerstone for the foundation of the temple of His own body (Jn.2:21). He is that Unique Stone with seven eyes (Is.28:16; Ps.118:22; Dan.2:45; Eph 2:20-21; 1 Pt.2:7), who is now placed before Joshua and before the whole of humanity. The work of rebuilding and ministering in the new temple points towards Christ. He, literally and physically, came to this temple. This is entirely a revelation of Him and the high priest and the companion priests represent a future reality.

The Stone is engraved by wounds and scars. It is a precious Stone, a living Stone, beautiful in the eyes of the believer, rejected by the world, deeply carved by the nails of the cross and the lance of the soldier. What is the inscription? I WILL REMOVE THE INIQUITY OF THAT LAND IN ONE DAY. The seven eyes show the fullness without measure of the living Spirit. “He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure” (Jn.3:34). He is fully empowered with spiritual gifts, with perfect wisdom and understanding, unlimited vision and nothing can hide from His eyes (Rev.5:6). “There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb.4:13). This is also the powerful work of the Lord of Hosts.

The Jew does not know the significance of this prophecy. He knows of the Day of Atonement that is celebrated repeatedly every year, but he doesn’t know what it means to “remove the iniquity of that land in one day” (Heb.10:10, 12, 14). In chapter 13 we see this promise for ‘the inhabitants of Jerusalem’ that will be fulfilled at the end of the Great Tribulation.

When the sin has been removed, the nation will enter a new era of blessing (v.10). Sitting ‘under his vine and under his fig tree’ was a commonly used proverb in Israel to express a state of peace and prosperity. Israel has never experienced such peace and prosperity since they were carried away into captivity, and truthfully, never in their history have they had what will be theirs during the reign of the Messiah. There will also be unequaled companionship… peace with God and peace with one another. “Blessed are the peacemakers”. “Thy Kingdom come!” The Millennium is another great work of the Lord of Hosts (Micah 4:4).


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