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Clean Garments For The High Priest (ch. 3:1 - 10)


Verse 1 steps right into Zechariah’s next vision.  The first person seen in the vision is Joshua.  This vision is first meant to be an encouragement for Joshua, and then for Israel. Along with Joshua the high priest, is the angel of the Lord and satan.  Satan is on Joshua’s right side, and the angel of the Lord is before or in front of Joshua.  Most scholars believe that when you see the term “angel of the Lord” in the Old Testament, it refers to the pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus.  Now in the vision it is noted that satan is on Joshua’s “right side”.   In Hebrew idiomatic language, when the term “right side”, or “right hand” is used, it is often times in reference to one having authority.  For example, when Jesus went to sit at the right hand of God, it means that He went to a place of authority alongside of God.  Since satan is standing at Joshua’s right hand, this might imply that Israel has allowed satan to be in a place of authority among them.  And this certainly was the case.


The Jews had long since allowed satan to take God’s place of authority in their lives.  You might remember the words of Jesus in John 8 when speaking to the Pharisees.  The Pharisees claimed that Abraham was their father, but Jesus said that was not the case.  Jesus said that satan was actually their father.  This would support the thinking of satan taking God’s place in the place of authority over Israel.


Whether the right side is significant or not, we do know from the text that satan was standing at Joshua’s right side and while he was there, he was accusing Joshua in front of Jesus.  This is part of what satan does.  He makes accusations against God’s people to God, and in this particular case, the accusations are probably accurate.  If satan being on Joshua’s right side has significance as I stated above, then it is ironic that the one who Israel has given herself to is the one who is making these accusations to God against them. 


In verse 2 we see that Jesus rebukes satan twice.  The first time is a general rebuke with no explanation given.  The second rebuke is based on the fact that God loves Jerusalem.  This suggests that the issue at hand concerns Jerusalem just as much as it concerns Joshua.  Throughout history Jerusalem has been God’s holy city and therefore satan wants it.  To this very day it is a raging battle-ground and the rage will intensify as this age comes to an end. The final battle will be over Jerusalem. 


The last phrase in verse 2 is spoken by Jesus. He tells satan that Joshua is a burning stick that has been snatched from the fire.  Fire normally speaks of judgment.  Jesus is saying that Joshua has been snatched from judgment to be an instrument for the Lord.  So satan should get his hands off him. 


In verse 3 we see Joshua dressed in filthy clothes. In the Hebrew filthy clothes means menstrual rags when women have their period.  The sight of Joshua’s appearance is thus pretty bad looking.  The way he is dressed represent sin, and most likely, the sin of Israel.


In verse 4 the angel of the Lord, that’s Jesus, speaks to others who are standing before Him.  The pronoun “I” refers to Jesus.  Now we need to think about who “those standing” before Jesus are.  Verse 7 speaks of others “standing here.”  Verse 8 speaks of Joshua’s “associates sitting” with him.  So to understand those in the vision, let’s recap.  You have Joshua.  On Joshua’s right side you have satan, and on his left side, or in front, you have Jesus.  Then you have Joshua’s associates sitting with him. You also have others standing with Jesus.  The others are the ones who take Joshua’s filthy clothes off and give him clean clothes.  You’ll see later that those standing with Jesus are those whom Joshua will rule with if he follows in the ways of God.          


In the last part of verse 4 Jesus explains the meaning of having Joshua’s filthy clothes taken off of him.  The filthy clothes represents his sin and the sin of Israel.  The removal of the clothes represents the removal of Joshua’s sin and the sin of Israel. 


In verse 5 we see that once the old clothes were taken off Joshua, brand new clothes were put on him.  This clearly represents God’s righteousness. Both Joshua and Israel had become righteous in this vision.  This righteousness had nothing to do with them buying the new clothes.  The new clothes were provided by Jesus Himself.  This is the message of the New Testament.  God has provided righteousness that comes only by trusting Jesus, whether one is Jew or Gentile.


One thing we might want to note at this point is that Jesus paid the price for these new clothes when He died on the cross.  Note the words “paid the price”.  Jesus paying the price and we or the Jews actually putting these new clothes on are two different things.  Some might suggest that all have been made righteous because of the cross. I see it a bit differently.  The price was paid for the possibility of us being righteous.  Our righteousness was bought buy Jesus, not us.  Yet we need to put these new clothes of righteousness on or else we’re not righteous.  In this instance, Joshua represents Israel , that at the end of this age will ware those clothes of righteousness that Jesus purchased on the cross.    


In verses 6 and 7 the angel of the Lord, or Jesus speaks directly to Joshua.  Jesus speaks on behalf of God, so in the long run, it’s really God speaking.  God tells Joshua that if he walked in the ways of God  and followed His commands then God would let Joshua govern over Israel.  Jesus also says that Joshua would take his place “among those standing here.”  I’m not convinced to who “those standing here” are.  They might well be angels. Or, they might be men such as Moses, Elijah and others.  This vision might well be similar to the transfiguration where Jesus stood in the vision with Moses and Elijah. Whatever the case, Jesus is telling Joshua that he will have a place of authority in governing Israel and the house of God, and I believe, at some future point.  Therefore, as I see it now, I expect to see this Joshua ruling with Jesus and other Jews in the thousand year rule of Christ on this earth from Jerusalem .     


In verse 8 we see a few things being said.  The first thing we see is God speaking to Joshua, “and his associates standing with him”.  Prior to this point in the vision we did not see anyone standing with Joshua.  But here we see others with Joshua and God says that these men are symbolic of future things.   These associates are men, not angels, and they are to represent things to come.   I believe they represent those who will rule with Jesus from Jerusalem in the thousand years of  peace. 


The last thing God says in verse 8 is that He will bring His Servant the Branch.  All Bible teachers say that this is a direct reference to Jesus, the Messiah.  In chapter 6 verse 12 you’ll see Zechariah use the term branch again.  In this verse it states that the Branch “branches out”.  This might well be why Jesus is called a branch, because out from Him grows other smaller branches, as seen in John 15 when Jesus speaks of Himself as being the vine and us being branches.   Paul, in Romans 9 through 11 speaks of the people of God being a tree, and Gentile Christians are grafted into this tree that has existed from Old Testament times. So one thing I can say about this verse, is that the New Testament people of God seems to be in view here, and these people are carried on into the thousand years of Christ’s rule on earth.   


In verse 9 we see another aspect to this vision.  In front of Joshua is a stone with seven eyes on it.  The question is, “what does this stone represent?”  Many times in the New Testament Jesus is referred to as a stone, a corner stone, or a rock.  This stone might well be Jesus Himself.  In verse 8 Jesus was the branch. In verse 9 He is the stone. 


Then, “what do the seven eyes” refer to?  If the stone is Jesus, the seven eyes is the Holy Spirit.  In Rev. 4:5 and 5:6 we see the term “seven spirits of God” mentioned.  The terms “seven spirits of God” can also be translated as “the seven fold spirit of God”.  Some say that there are seven special spirits of God, while others say there is one Spirit of God consisting of seven aspects, thus  the words “seven fold”.  I tend to accept the idea that the Holy Spirit has seven aspects to Him. Some see the seven fold spirits listed in Isa. 11:2.  They are; the spirit of the Lord, of wisdom, of understanding, of counsel, of power, of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord.   This might well represent Jesus being anointed by the Holy Spirit at His baptism.  This anointing carries on throughout history, throughout the thousand years and beyond. 


Also in verse 9 we see that God engraves an inscription on the stone.  In Rev. 19:12 we see that Jesus has a name that no one else knows.  Maybe this is what this verse is referring to.   At that time, the last phrase in verse 9 says that God will remove the sin from Israel.  And this is exactly what happens at the end of this age, when Jesus returns, with His new name. Israel will finally be the holy people they were meant to be. 


In verse 10 God says that in “that day each of you..”  “That day “ refers to the day spoken of in verse 9, that is, the end of this age.  “Each of you” has to refer to more than Joshua, but to Joshua and those standing with him.  In that day Israel will sit down with their neighbours under their vines and fig trees.  This suggests to me time of rest and peace as seen in the thousand year rule of Jesus on earth.   I believe the word “neighbour” might well be in reference to Gentile neighbours because that is how this word is often used during this time period in Jewish history.  This then suggests a time of world peace during the thousand year rule of Jesus. 

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