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FRAMEWORKS: Zechariah 3: Joshua the high priest


v.1-5 Clean garments for the high priest

v.6-10 Joshua Recommissioned


[Preliminary Comment: This is a particularly poignant short chapter. Bear in mind that these prophecies come to the returned exiles, men and women who must have been joyful but at the same time [various prophecies have said, e.g. Ezek 36:31,32] would feel ashamed of their past and therefore, maybe a little uncertain of their standing before God. Zechariah is given this ongoing vision that directly addresses this.

Joshua the high priest, as senior spiritual representative of the returned exiles, is shown as being accused by Satan [v.1], but the Lord stands up for him [v.2] and Joshua is reclothed [v.3-5]. Joshua is then recommissioned [v.6,7] and is told that the priesthood is symbolic of a coming reign by the Messiah [v.8]. Joshua is also presented with a stone that will act as a reminder that a) the Lord is watching over them all the time and b) He has redeemed and cleansed them [v.9]. The result of this work will be that the restored nation will rest secure in the land with abundant provision [v.10]. It is a thoroughly encouraging chapter for the returned exiles. The picture of Joshua being cleansed, dressed, and recommissioned, would not only encourage him but perhaps could also be seen to apply to corporate Israel, returned to their land.]



v.1-5 Clean garments for the high priest


v.1,2 Satan accuses Joshua the high priest but the Lord rebukes Satan


v.1  Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.

v.2  The Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord , who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?'


v.3 Joshua is clearly in a messy state…


v.3  Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel.


v.4,5 … but instructions are given for him to be dressed in clean clothes


v.4  The angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.'

Then he said to Joshua, ‘See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.'

v.5  Then I said, ‘Put a clean turban on his head.' So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.


[Notes: The standing of Joshua the high priest is clearly in question at this time, because in the vision the prophet sees Satan accusing him of not coming up to the mark. Was there a question mark over the leaders after they returned from exile? The vision gives an answer with a resounding, “No!” In God's eyes, this man of His, presumably with the others, has been snatched from destruction or oblivion of exile to be returned to his rightful place, leading God's people. Today is a new starting place for Joshua – cleansed by God and freshly clothed, the past is removed.]



v.6-10 Joshua Recommissioned


v.6,7 Joshua to obey and be over the house of God, freshly rebuilt in Jerusalem


v.6  The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua:

v.7  ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: “If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.


v.8 They are symbolic of one to come


v.8  ‘“Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch.


v.9 A stone that acts as a reminder – God sees all, God has redeemed this people


v.9  See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.


v.10 When that happens God will have re-established His people in His land


v.10  ‘“In that day each of you will invite your neighbour to sit under your vine and fig-tree,” declares the Lord Almighty.'


[Notes: Not only is Joshua cleansed and reclothed, he is given a new commission. All that is required of him is obedience [v.7] and for that he will be given headship over the running of God's house, the Temple. But there are two more wonderful things shown

•  This group of priests [or leaders] are representatives of something to come, a worshipping people who represent the redeemed people of God that will only come about when ‘the Branch' arrives [v.8]. Isaiah had, years before, used this picture of the Messiah who would come from the house of David [Isa 11:1] and Jeremiah had prophesied the same thing [Jer 23:5, 33:15] and Zechariah will speak of him again later [6:12] in more detail.

•  There was a special stone [v.9] provided by God to stand before Joshua as a constant reminder, around which were seven eyes engraved to remind him that God was always watching, and also engraved on it is a reminder that God has redeemed this new community of exiles and by His work [through His Messiah?] provide cleansing for them.

But perhaps we should add a third thing: when God has done this work, it will mean that the people of God have been reconciled to Him and can live at peace and in security, recipients of His blessing, in His land, surely a picture of His desire for all mankind.]



Continue to Chapter 4