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Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 3

Wells of Living Water CommentaryWells of Living Water

Verses 1-10

A Vision of Satan's Fury

Zechariah 3:1-10


Our message presents the vision of Zechariah as he sees Joshua, the high priest, standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.

By way of introduction we wish to make some general remarks about Satan.

1. Satan's efforts primarily center against the Lord. In his first rebellion, his rebellion was against the Almighty. Satan was, perhaps, the most beautiful of created cherubs. God had set him upon the mount of fire. He had walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Every precious stone was his covering. He sealed up the sum, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. Then it was that iniquity was found in him. He said in his heart, "I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God." Thus it was that he was cast down. Here is the Divine story of his overthrow: "How art thou fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground."

From the day of Satan's fall he has set himself against God. We readily grant that he opposes God's people, but it is all done because he fights everything that God sets up.

2. Satan's efforts centered against Adam and Eve. When God created man, male and female, He gave them oversight over His new creation, the earth. He placed all things under their feet. It was then that Satan entered the Garden with such cunning craftiness and with such insinuations against God's integrity in His professed love to man, that both Adam and Eve yielded to his wiles, and were driven from the Garden under curse of death.

3. Satan's efforts centered next against the promised Seed of the woman. When God pronounced the curse in the Garden of Eden, He also said: "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." Satan, from that moment, became primarily interested in the birth of the Seed, and centered his attacks against that Seed, if possible, to do away with it before it could vanquish him.

Thus it was that Abel was slain; thus it was that the whole race was soon engulfed in iniquity, in order no doubt, to wreck God's handiwork and to force the Almighty to the destruction of the race. God, however, saved Noah and his family, that through them He might replenish the earth and fulfill His promise in the Garden of Eden that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head.

It is interesting beyond compare to follow the genealogy in the line of the Seed from Adam down to Christ and to observe Satan's constant antagonism against that Seed, that is, against the family through whom the Divine Seed was destined to come, and even against the nation who housed the family which housed the Seed.

4. Satan's efforts finally centered against the Son of God. When, after four thousand years, Gabriel announced the birth of the Seed, and the angel acclaimed Him as born, then Satan's effort was against the Babe of Bethlehem and the Son of God.

When Christ was baptized in the river Jordan and announced as God's Beloved Son, then began the great onslaught which culminated on the Cross.

It was when Satan, in his great final effort, manned the fight against Jesus Christ on the Cross, that he brought in to play every demon and fallen angel of the air, and every possible Satan-filled and driven man of the earth as he fell against the Son of God.

There, hanging upon His Cross, Jesus Christ met Satan and the principalities and the powers of Satan's array, and vanquished them, triumphing over them in it. The heel of Christ was bruised, but, in turn, He bruised Satan's head.


Zechariah in his visions saw Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his own right hand to resist him.

1. We have suggested here the age-long battle of Satan against God's chosen people. One word is enough to cause us to understand why Satan during all of the ages hated and sought to destroy Israel. It is for none other reason than this, when God called Abraham, He called him under the promise of special blessing. In him and in his seed all the nations of the earth were to be blessed.

When God delivered unto the nations their land inheritances, He divided that land according to the number of the Children of Israel. When God formed Israel from the twelve sons of Jacob into twelve tribes, He poured upon them His greatest love, and made them His favored and chosen nation.

It was for these causes that Satan fought Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. It was for these causes that Satan made bitter the bondage of Israel in Egypt. It was for these causes that Satan always sought the corruption of Israel under the judges and under the kings. He also hated Israel because the Seed of the woman would come from her.

2. We have before us the age-ending battle of Satan against Israel, as the time draws near for God's deliverance of His people. Satan's wrath against them will greatly increase shortly. This wrath is particularly set forth in the Book of Revelation. As soon as Satan is cast down to the earth, the Dragon will begin to persecute the "woman." He will cast out of his mouth waters as a flood, after Israel, that he may cause her to be carried away.

The final great battle of Armageddon is Satan's great climax of madness against the chosen race. At that time Jerusalem shall be taken and there will be such sorrow among God's people as there never has been upon the earth. Surely Satan still stands by to resist Judah and Jerusalem.


As Zechariah in the vision saw Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him, he heard the Lord say: "The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?"

1. Israel's only safety in ages past has been in the supremacy of God. Had God not been greater than Satan, Israel would long ago have been annihilated. Had God not undertaken against Satan, Israel had been lost to world history. Israel is not a people because she, herself, has successfully fought back the onslaught of the enemy. She is a people only because God has kept her in the hollow of His hand. What Israel could not do, God's omnipotency and grace has accomplished.

All of this is true of the Church, yea, it is true of the individual believer. Our safety from sin and Satan lies wholly in the fact that we are kept in His hands.

2. Israel's only hope in the day of her greatest trouble will be in the supremacy of God. When the great tribulation comes God will turn Israel over unto Satan, even as He once turned Peter over. We remember how He said to Peter: "Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee."

Jesus Christ said definitely that if the days of the great tribulation had not been shortened, no flesh would be saved.

We are beginning even now to see just a little of the fury that is being gendered against Judah and Jerusalem. This fury will reach its climax after the rapture of the Church and during the great tribulation.

To Peter, Jesus said, "I have prayed for thee." Thus, also, will He interest Himself in the Jew. He will say to Satan: "The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?"

Thus it is that once more with a final great deliverance will God arise in the behalf of His people. They will say no longer the Lord who delivered us out of the land of Egypt, but, the Lord who brought us out from the North country and from all the countries whither He had driven us, and the Lord who saved us from Satan's greatest wrath.

III. THE SINS OF GOD'S PEOPLE (Zechariah 3:3 )

Our key verse says: "Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel." We have already suggested that Joshua in Zechariah's vision represents Judah and Jerusalem. Let us see if we can find the meaning of Joshua's filthy garments.

1. Israel's sins have been heavy upon her. We remember how Moses, the aged Prophet and Seer, warned Israel of the way of life and the way of death. Thus, in the beginning of her history she was warned against her evil ways. When we come over into the days of the kings, Israel's sins under her godless king was fast ripening. Jeremiah, the weeping Prophet, bewailed her sad estate.

First of all, God cast off Israel, and then, afterward He cast off Judah. Ezekiel speaking of Israel's filthy garments said: "When the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings." The sin of Israel caused God to scatter them among the nations, and to disperse them through the countries. Wherever they went, they still profaned God's holy Name.

Until this hour Israel is bearing her own iniquities and the results of her own shame.

2. Israel clothed in filthy garments will yet cry unto God. Various Prophets have described the pitiful pleas which shall yet be found upon the lips of God's nation as they plead for mercy, and for forgiveness.

During the centuries God has stretched forth His hand to a disobedient and a gainsaying people. The time is coming, however, when Israel will stretch forth her hands unto the Lord whom she has rejected.

Hosea, the Prophet, thus speaks: "O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto Him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously."

God has said to us, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." Will He not also forgive Israel in the day of her confession?

IV. ISRAEL'S CLEANSING (Zechariah 3:4 )

"And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him." As Zechariah saw the filthy garments of the high priest removed, he beheld a picture of Israel's ultimate cleansing. Therefore the Lord spake, saying, "Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment."

1. A nation shall be born in a day. This is the promise which God gave in old times when He said: "The Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob."

The Holy Spirit through Paul spoke of this same time when He said: "And so all Israel shall be saved." This salvation Paul said would occur when His covenant was fulfilled that "I shall take away their sins."

The Prophet Ezekiel positively declared: "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you." In that Day, God will give His people a new heart and a new spirit, and take away the stony heart.

2. A nation shall be robed in white raiment. God gave to the prodigal son a new robe. He put a ring upon his hand and shoes upon his feet.

The Lord gives to every sinner who believes in Him a new heart. He also gives him a new robe, pure and white.

Thus it is that Israel will be beautiful once more, because of His beauty which He will place upon her.

In this our day the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, etc. All of this is placed upon those who walk in the Spirit. In that day the fruit of the Spirit will be fully realized in Israel.


Zechariah in vision saw Joshua the high priest as the Lord placed the fair miter upon his head.

1. The fair miter stands for Divine recognition and honor. When Israel returns to the Lord, the glory of the Lord will be placed upon her. For this cause she will arise and shine. The light of her glory will be so bright that all the world will wonder and marvel, saying, "Is this she who was cast off, disowned, and scattered among the nations?"

In that Day the sons of those who afflicted Israel shall come bending their knees unto her. Those who despised her will bow down before her. She shall be called the city of the Lord. Her walls shall be called salvation and her gates praise.

2. The fair miter stands for a coregency. The Lord's people will be partakers of His reign. The Word of the Lord will go forth from Jerusalem. Israel will be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of her God. Whereas she was termed forsaken, she shall be, exalted, for the Lord will delight in her.

To be sure many saints of old and saints of this dispensation will also live and reign with Christ. However, the Children of Israel restored into one nation with Christ as their King, will be recognized the world over as the princes of His Kingdom. In that Day ten men of the nations will take hold of the skirt of him who is a Jew saying, I will go with you for I have heard that the Lord is with you. Thus, according to Zechariah 3:7 , Israel will judge the Lord's House, keep His courts, and will take their places among those that stand by.


To Joshua the high priest, the Lord now speaks, saying, "Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth My servant, the BRANCH."

This verse connects the whole vision which Zechariah saw with the Second Coming of Christ. The expression "the BRANCH" always looks forward to the Lord Jesus.

1. The Branch as seen in Isaiah 11:1 . The verse reads: "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stern of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots." This Scripture goes on to show how the sevenfold glory of the Holy Spirit shall rest upon Christ. It continues to describe Him in His Second Coming as He smites the earth with the rod of His mouth, and as with the breath of His lips He slays the wicked one.

Isaiah then continues, and tells how righteousness will be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of. His reins. The chapter goes on to describe the wonderful world conditions under His Millennial Reign.

2. The Branch as seen in Isaiah 4:2 . "In that Day shall the Branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel."

At that time the remnant of Israel shall be called holy because the Lord shall have washed away their filth.

3. The Branch as seen in Jeremiah 23:5 , Jeremiah 23:6 . "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth." The Branch here, as in other Scriptures, refers to Christ; refers to Him in His kingship. It is in that Day that "Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely."

It is then, and in that Day, that Israel shall be known by the Name of their Lord, "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."

4. The Branch as seen in Zechariah 6:12 . In this Scripture "the Man whose Name is The BRANCH" is once more our Lord, and our Lord in His kingly glory. This is said of Him: "He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the Temple of the Lord: even He shall build the Temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne."

In all of this we see the fuller meaning of Zechariah's vision when the angel speaks to Joshua and says: "I will bring forth My servant the BRANCH."

VII. THE FINAL MESSAGE (Zechariah 3:9-10 )

A stone now comes into view. It is a stone with seven eyes upon it. This stone with perfection of vision, can be none other than Christ, the Stone which the builders rejected which is made the head of the corner.

1. Upon that stone was engraven God's pledge: " I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day." We have already suggested this, when we said that a nation would be born in a day. This "day" can be none other than the day of Christ's Coming, the day when Israel shall look upon Him whom they have pierced. The day when Israel will weep as one who weeps over an only son.

In that Day, there will be open for Jerusalem a fountain for sin and uncleanness, and she shall be cleansed.

2. In that Day Israel will call every man his neighbor under the vine and under the fig tree. True brotherhood will have come at last. Every wall of partition will have been effectually broken down. As today in the Church all are one in Christ, so in that day all will be one, under their own vine and fig tree.

It is all useless to endeavor to bring in a world brother-hood until the Advent of the Son of God. Then, and only then, will we find the perfection of liberty, unity, and fraternity among men.



This is My body, which, is broken for you (1 Corinthians 11:24 ). In R. Moffat Gautrey's book entitled, "The Glory of Going On," he gives this incident: "Not many months ago in an Oxfordshire village, an old saint lay dying. For over eighty years she had been on pilgrimage to Zion, until her face had grown bright with Heaven's approaching glory. An Anglo-Catholic priest, under the misapprehension that none of his parishioners could find access to the City unless he unlocked the gate, called to visit her. 'Madam,' he said, 'I have come to grant you absolution.' And she, in her simplicity, not knowing what the word meant, inquired, 'What is that?' 'I have come to forgive your sins,' was the reply. 'May I look at your hand,' she answered. Gazing for a moment at the hand of the priest, she said, 'Sir, you are an imposter.' 'Imposter!' the scandalized cleric protested. 'Yes, sir, an imposter. The Man who forgives my sin has a nail print in His palm.'" From the Christian Herald (London).

Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Zechariah 3". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lwc/zechariah-3.html.
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