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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Zechariah 3

 

 

Verse 1

And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.

Joshua the high priest before the angel of Yahweh-Accused by Satan, but justified by Yahweh through Messiah the coming Branch.

He showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord. Joshua as high priest (Haggai 1:1) represents "Jerusalem" (Zechariah 3:2), or the elect people, put on its trial, and "plucked" narrowly "out of the fire." His attitude, "standing before the Lord," is that of a high priest ministering before the alter, which had been erected previously to the building of the temple (Ezra 3:2-3; Ezra 3:6; Psalms 135:2 ). Yet, in this position, by reason of his own and his people's sins, he is represented as "standing before" the Judge on his and their trial (Numbers 35:12).

He showed me - "he" is the interpreting angel. Jerusalem's (Joshua's) "filthy garments" (Zechariah 3:3) are its sins, which had heretofore brought down Gods' judgments. The "change of raiment" implies its restoration to God's favour. Satan suggested to the Jews that so consciously polluted a priesthood and people could offer no acceptable sacrifice to God, and therefore they might as well desist from the building of the temple. Zechariah encourages them, by showing that their demerit does not disqualify them for the work, as they are accepted in the righteousness of another, their great High Priest, the Branch (Zechariah 3:8), a scion of their own royal line of David (Isaiah 11:1). The full accomplishment of Israel's justification, and of Satan the accuser's being "rebuked," was as yet future (Revelation 12:8-10, Satan the accuser, at the ascension of Christ as our Advocate above, was to be "cast out" of heaven unto the earth; and, 20:2-3,10, he is hereafter to be first for 1,000 years chained, and then finally cast into the lake of fire and brimstone forever and ever). Compare Revelation 11:8, wherein "Jerusalem," as here, is shown to be meant primarily, though including the whole Church in general (cf. Job 1:9).

Satan - the Hebrew term meaning "adversary" in a law-court: as Devil is the Greek term meaning Accuser. Messiah, on the other hand, is "advocate" for His people in the court of heaven's justice (1 John 2:1).

Standing at his right hand to resist him - the usual position of a prosecutor or accuser in court, as the left hand was the position of the defendant (Psalms 109:6). If Satan stands at the poor believer's right hand to accuse, Messiah "stands at the right hand of the poor to save him" (Psalms 109:31). The "angel of the Lord" took the same position, "standing on the right side of the altar of incense," just before another high priest was about to beget the forerunner of Messiah (Luke 1:11), who supplants Satan from his place as accuser. Some hence explain Jude 1:9 as referring to this passage: "the body of Moses" being thus the Jewish Church, for which Satan contended as his by reason of its sins; just as the "body of Christ" is the Christian Church. However, Jude 1:9 plainly speaks of the literal body of Moses, the resurrection of which at the transfiguration Satan seems to have opposed, on the ground of Moses' error at Meribah; the same divine "rebuke" (cf. Zechariah 3:2 here with Jude 1:9), "The Lord rebuke thee," checked Satan, in contending for judgment against Moses' body, as checked him when demanding judgment against the Jewish Church, to which Moses' body corresponds.


Verse 2

And the LORD said unto 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?

And the Lord said unto Satan - Yahweh is hereby identified with "the angel of the Lord" (Yahweh) (Zechariah 3:1).

The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord ... rebuke thee. Twice repeated, to express the certainty of Satan's accusations and machinations against Jerusalem being frustrated. Instead of lengthened argument, Yahweh silences Satan by the one plea-namely, God's sovereign and gracious choice.

The Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem - (Romans 9:16; Romans 11:5). The conclusive answer. If the issue rested on Jerusalem's merit or demerit, condemnation must be the award; but Yahweh's "choice" (John 15:16) rebuts Satan's charge against Jerusalem (Zechariah 1:17; Zechariah 2:12; Romans 8:33-34; Romans 8:37), represented by Joshua, not that she may continue in sin, but be freed from it (Zechariah 3:7); (cf. in the great atonement, the choice by lot of one goat as an atoning sin offering "for the Lord," and "the other lot for the scape goat" Leviticus 16:6-20, etc).

Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? (Amos 4:11; 1 Peter 4:18; Jude 1:23). Herein God implies that His acquittal of Jerusalem is not that He does not recognize her sin (Zechariah 3:3-4; Zechariah 3:9), but that, having punished her people for it with a 70 years' captivity, He, on the ground of His electing love, has delivered her from the fiery ordeal; and when once He hath begun a deliverance, as in this case, He will perfect it; and though He chastise temporarily the elect for their transgressions, "nevertheless His loving-kindness he will not utterly take away," because of His everlasting covenant with their Head, the Divine Son of David (Psalms 89:30-35; Philippians 1:6).


Verse 3

Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.

Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments - symbol of sin (Proverbs 30:12; Isaiah 4:4; Isaiah 64:6); proving that it is not on the ground of His people's righteousness that He accepts them. Here primarily the "filthy garments" represent the abject state temporally of the Jewish priesthood and people at the return from Babylon. Yet he "stood before the angel." Abject as he was, he was before Yahweh's eyes, who graciously accepts His people's services, though mixed with sin and infirmity. The imagery is Persian. The filthy garments in which Joshua appears are such as were usually worn by those on their trial upon some accusation. The white robe is the caftan or robe of honour which is still upon an Eastern minister of state who has been acquitted of charges brought against him.


Verse 4

And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.

And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him - the ministering angels (cf. for the phrase, "stood before Him" - namely, as those who are admitted to the high honours of "standing continually before" an Oriental king, 1 Kings 10:8; Daniel 1:5).

Take away the filthy garments from him. In Zechariah 3:9 it is "remove the iniquity of that land;" therefore Joshua represents the Jewish land.

From him , [ mee`al (Hebrew #5921)] - literally, from upon him: pressing upon him as an overwhelming burden.

And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment - festal robes of the high priest, most costly and gorgeous; symbol of Messiah's imputed righteousness, represented in the Saviour's parable by the wedding garment (Matthew 22:11). The restoration of the glory of the priesthood is implied: first, partially, at the completion of the second temple; fully realized in the great High Priest Jesus, whose name is identical with Joshua (Hebrews 4:8), the Representative of Israel, the "kingdom of priests" (Exodus 19:6); He, our heavenly High Priest, once clad in the filthy garments of our vileness, but being the chosen of the Father (Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 44:1; Isaiah 49:1-3). He hath by death ceased from sin, and in garments of glory hath entered the heavenly holy place as our High Priest (Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 9:24). Then, as the consequence (1 Peter 2:5), the "holy priesthood" is not restricted to one privileged order, but is realized in the Church generally: all who repent and believe exchange their "filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6) for "the best robe," and the "ring on the hand and shoes on the feet" (Luke 15:22); and wear "fine linen, clean and white," even "the righteousness of saints" (Revelation 19:8). Israel in particular, as a nation of priests, will "greatly rejoice in the Lord," because He hath "clothed her with the garments of salvation," and "covered" her with the bridal "robe of righteousness" (Isaiah 61:10 : cf. Isaiah 3:6; Isaiah 66:21).


Verse 5

And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by.

And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. Here the prophet, rejoicing at the change of raiment so far made, interposes to ask for the crowning assurance that the priesthood would be fully restored-namely, the putting the mitre or priestly turban on Joshua: its fair colour symbolizing the official purity of the order restored. He does not command, but prays: not "set," but "let them set." The Vulgate and Syriac versions read it, 'He then said,' which is the easier reading; but the very difficulty of the present Hebrew reading makes it less likely to come from a modern corrector of the text.

And the angel of the Lord stood by - the Divine Angel had been sitting (the posture of a judge, Daniel 7:9); now He "stands" to see that Zechariah's prayer be executed, and then to give the charge (Zechariah 3:6-7).


Verse 6

And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying,

And the angel of the Lord protested - proceeded solemnly to declare. A forensic term for an affirmation on oath, which God hath given His people, in order the "more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel" (Hebrews 6:17-18). God thus solemnly states the end for which the priesthood is restored to the people, His own glory in their obedience and pure worship, and their consequent promotion to heavenly honour.


Verse 7

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.

Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways. God's choice of Jerusalem (Zechariah 3:2) was unto its sanctification (John 15:16; Romans 8:29); hence, the charge here which connects the promised blessing with obedience.

And if thou wilt keep my charge - the ordinances of God, the "charge of the sanctuary," and all the precepts, ritual and moral (Numbers 3:28; Numbers 3:31-32; Numbers 3:38; Joshua 1:7-9; 1 Kings 2:3; Ezekiel 44:16).

Then thou shalt also judge my house - thou shalt long preside over the temple-ceremonial as high priest, deciding and defining the difference between things clean and unclean (Leviticus 10:10; Ezekiel 44:23; Malachi 2:7). (Grotius.) Or, rule over my house - i:e., my people (Maurer). (Numbers 12:7; Hosea 8:1.) We know from Deuteronomy 17:9 that the priest judged cases. He was not only to obey the Mosaic institute himself, but to see that it was obeyed by others. God's people are similarly to exercise judgment hereafter, "having authority over" a defined number of "cities" as the reward of their present faithfulness (Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:22; Luke 19:17; 1 Corinthians 6:2); by virtue of their royal priesthood (Revelation 1:6).

And shalt also keep my courts - guard my house from profanation. And I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by - free ingress and egress, so as at will to "go out and come in" (1 Samuel 18:16; 1 Kings 3:7; 1 Kings 15:17); thou mayest go through "these" ministering angels "who stand by" Yahweh (Zechariah 4:14; Zechariah 6:5; 1 Kings 22:19) into His presence, discharging thy priestly function. In Ezekiel 42:4, the same Hebrew word [mah


Verse 8

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.

Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee. On account of the magnitude of what He is about to say, He now demands solemn attention.

Thy fellows that sit before thee - thy subordinate colleagues in the priesthood; not that they were actually then sitting before him; but their usual posture in consultations was on chairs or benches before him, while he sat on an elevated seat as their president.

For they are. From speaking to Joshua, He passes to speaking of him and them, in the third person, to the attendant angels (cf. Zechariah 3:9).

Men wondered at - Hebrew [ 'ansheey (Hebrew #376) mowpeet (Hebrew #4159)], 'men of omen,' 'sign,' 'pertent,' or 'wonder' - i:e., having a typical character (Isaiah 8:18; Isaiah 20:3; Ezekiel 12:11; Ezekiel 24:24). Joshua the high priest typifies Messiah, as Joshua's "fellows" typify believers whom Messiah admits to share His priesthood (1 Peter 2:5; Revelation 5:10). This, the typical character of the priesthood, then, is a pledge to assure the desponding Jews that the priesthood shall be preserved until the great Antitype comes. There may be also an indirect reproof of the unbelief of the multitude who "wonder" at God's servants, and even at God's Son, incredulously, (Psalms 71:7; Isaiah 8:18; Isaiah 53:1, etc.)

For, behold - marking the greatness of what follows.

I will bring forth my servant - the characteristic title of Messiah (Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 49:3; Isaiah 50:10; Isaiah 52:13; Isaiah 53:11; Ezekiel 34:23-24). The BRANCH - Messiah, a tender branch from the almost extinct royal line of David (Zechariah 6:12; Isaiah 4:2; Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15; Luke 1:78 [ anatolee (Greek #395)], where for "dayspring," branch may be substituted: Malachi 4:2, however, favours the English version). The reference cannot be to Zerubbabel (as Grotius thinks), because he was then in the full discharge of his office, whereas "The Branch" here is regarded as future.


Verse 9

For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.

For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua - expressing the ground for encouragement to the Jews in building the temple: 'I (Yahweh) have laid the (foundation) stone, as the chief architect, before (in the presence of) Joshua, by the hand of Zerubbabel' (Zechariah 4:10; Ezra 3:8-13), so that your labour in building shall not be vain. Antitypically, the (foundation) "stone" alluded to is Christ, before called "The Branch." Lost any should think from that term that His kingdom is weak, He now calls it "the stone," because of its solidity and strength, whereby it is to be the foundation of the Church, and, as "the stone cut out of the mountain without hands," shall crush all the world-kingdoms (Ps. 108:22 : cf. Isaiah 28:16; Daniel 2:45; Matthew 21:42; 1 Corinthians 3:11; 1 Peter 2:6-7). The angel, pointing to the chief stone lying before Him, intimates that a deeper mystery than the material temple is symbolized. Moore thinks the "stone" is the Jewish Church, which Yahweh engages watch fully to guard. The temple, rather, is that symbolically. But the antitype of the foundation stone is Messiah.

Upon one stone shall be seven eyes - namely, the watchful "eyes" of Yahweh's care ever fixed "upon" it (Zechariah 4:10). (Maurer.) The eye is the symbol of Providence; "seven," of perfection (Revelation 5:6 : cf. 2 Chronicles 16:9; Psalms 32:8): The seven prime counselors of the King of Persia were called the eyes of the king, as there were others called the ears of the king (Tirinus). Antitypically, "the seven eyes upon the stone" are the eyes of all angels (1 Timothy 3:16), and of all saints (John 3:14-15; John 12:32), and of the patriarchs and prophets (John 8:66; 1 Peter 1:10-11 ), fixed on Christ; above all, the eyes of the Father ever rest with delight on Him. Calvin (I think better) considers the seven eyes to be carved upon the stone - i:e., not the eyes of the Father and of angels and saints ever fixed on Him, but His own seven-fold (perfect) fullness of grace, and of gifts of the Spirit "put UPON Him" by God: for "the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding (answering to the "eyes" here "upon the one stone"), "the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes" - i:e., after mere human wisdom (Isaiah 11:2-3; Isaiah 42:1; John 1:16; John 3:34; Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9), and His watchful providence now for the Jews in building the temple, and always for His Church, His spiritual temple. Thus the "stone" is not as other stones, senseless, but living and full of eyes of perfect intelligence (1 Peter 2:4, "a living stone"), who not only attracts the eyes (John 12:32) of His people, but emits from Himself illumination, so as to direct them to Him. What an awful contrast the mere human, self-deifying, carnal wisdom represented by the "eyes of a man" in the "little horn," or Antichrist (Daniel 7:8).

Behold, I will engrave the graving thereof - implying Messiah's exceeding beauty and preciousness: alluding to the polished stones of the temple: Christ excelled them as much as God, who "prepared His body" (Hebrews 10:5 : cf. John 2:21), is superior to all human builders. The Hebrew [ m


Verse 10

In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.

In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree - emblem of tranquil prosperity (1 Kings 4:25): type of spiritual peace with God through Christ (Romans 5:1); and of millennial blessedness (Micah 4:4).

Remarks:

(1) Whenever we "stand before the Lord," to seek acceptance for ourselves or others, the great adversary, as the name Satan means, stands forth to resist our prayer. But as we have in Satan an adversary to demand execution against us for our violation of God's law, so we have in Christ an Advocate with the Father, who ever liveth to make intercession for us (Zechariah 3:1).

(2) Our heavenly Advocate cannot say anything good of us; because, indeed, "we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6); but He can say what is all-prevailing as a plea for us-namely, that He has "chosen" His believing people, and of His everlasting grace and love has "plucked" them as "a brand out of the fire" (Zechariah 3:2). If, then, we be humble believers in Christ, our natural filthiness and vileness cannot nullify the efficacy of His blood to cleanse us, and of His Spirit to sanctify us. We may, in triumphant though reverent confidence, take up the exulting challenge of the Apostle Paul, (Romans 8:33-34, "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elects? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who (then) shall separate us from the love of Christ?")

(3) When Satan plies us with the most subtle and powerful of his temptations-namely, the temptation to doubt Christ's power to pardon, justify, and sanctify so polluted beings as we at times painfully experience ourselves to be-our wisdom is, not to reason with the tempter, but to refer him to Christ, and to God's eternal choice of His people in Christ. "The Lord, that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee Satan," effectually silences the adversary: even as Jesus Himself silenced the tempter in the wilderness, "Get thee hence, Satan" (Matthew 4:10). (4) These whom Messiah makes spiritual "priests unto God and His Father" He clothes with "change of raiment" (Zechariah 3:4). Henceforth arrayed in His spotless robe of righteousness, through the imputation to them of His meritorious obedience in life, and delivered from the penalty of their filthiness by His death for them, they stand faultless and perfectly justified before the God of justice.

(5) They who are thus justified in Christ receive also the "mitre" or "crown" of assurance in the witnessing of "the Spirit with their spirit that they are the children of God" (Romans 8:16). The "mitre" here answers to the "helmet" in the Gospel armoury, which is "the hope of salvation" (1 Thessalonians 5:8). This mitre is the earnest of the coming "crown of righteousness," a "crown of glory that fadeth not away" (1 Peter 5:4), which shall hereafter be given "unto all them that love his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8).

(6) Whosoever are thus justified bring forth. as a natural consequence of their newborn nature, the fruits of holiness (Zechariah 3:7). Gratuitous justification, wherever it is really experienced, leads those so justified not to be careless about sin, but "to walk in God's ways, and to keep God's charge." Messiah chooses his people to "go and bring forth fruit, and that their fruit should remain" (John 15:16). And the final result or reward of such a holy, loving walk in the light and liberty of the children of God now is, they shall exercise judgment in the Lord's house hereafter sitting upon thrones (Matthew 19:28), and also shall have free access to God's presence "among" the angels "that stand by" Yahweh (Zechariah 3:7).

(7) The Levitical priesthood and ceremonial were typical of the Messiah to come. So Joshua the high priest and his "fellows," the "men wondered at," were typical of One infinitely greater, even THE BRANCH sprung from the almost extinct stock of David (Zechariah 3:8). Men "wondered" in "astonishment" (Isaiah 52:14-15) at Him, the Divine "Servant" of God, the Root of David, and yet "marred in visage more than any man." Let us be patient, if, as His believing people, we are at times "as a wonder unto many" (Psalms 71:7), even as our Lord was before us.

(8) Messiah is not only a tender "Branch," but He is also a sure foundation "stone." In Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden. (Greek, Colossians 2:3). The "seven eyes" upon the "one stone" express this perfection of the graces of the Holy "Spirit put upon Him" (Isaiah 42:1), in His human form and body, by God the Father. "For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell" (Colossians 1:19). The infinite wisdom and all-seeing providence of Christ, the foundation-stone of the Church, are the sure guarantee for its ultimate and glorious completion. He not merely attracts all eyes to Himself, but He emits the heavenly light to guide them to Him.

(9) Messiah, in the "one day" of His atonement for sin, once for all has "removed" forever the "iniquity" of His people (Zechariah 3:9). His atonement needs no addition to it of masses, Roman merits, or laborious efforts. "For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified" (Hebrews 10:14).

(10) Undisturbed peace, security, and prosperity, are the final fruits of Messiah's work of redemption (Zechariah 3:10). Already the believer has inward peace, even in the midst of outward troubles. At last the universal Church in the new heavens and the new earth shall enjoy outward as well as inward peace and blessedness.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Zechariah 3:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/zechariah-3.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 11th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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