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Saturday, January 6, 2007

Zechariah: Good and Comforting Words

Cleansing the Nation of Israel (3.1-10)

Thus far, we have been working our way through Zechariah looking at the work of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus. The first aspect of His ministry considered was His preincarnate ministry. The second combed through passages dealing with our Lord’s first advent. Over the past several entries we have been considering a third aspect, His revelation in glory. This is a predominate theme in the book. The last entry was the highpoint of this particular aspect (chapter 14).

This entry concludes the third aspect of Messiah’s ministry. We will wrap up our extended look at Zechariah by looking for millennial passages in the book. I will conclude and review the study with a short outline of where we have been.

The Ministry of Joshua, the High Priest

Joshua, the high priest and main character of Zechariah 3, returned from the Babylonian exile with Zerubbabel. He assumed leadership responsibility during the rebuilding of the altar in Jerusalem. The reestablished sacrificial worship spurred the development of the temple. However, one must be cautious in limiting Joshua’s ministry to 538 B.C.

Zechariah 3 “describes a day of redemption in which Joshua the high priest, typical or representative of Israel as a priestly people, will be cleansed of his impurities and reinstalled in his capacity as high priest. This presupposes a Temple in which this can take place, so Joshua will build such a structure. Again, this Temple is only the model of one to come, one whose cornerstone is YHWH Himself. That cornerstone contains the glorious promise of the regeneration of the nation, a mighty salvific event that will be consummated one day” (Unger 143-44).

This Job-like account has Joshua, the high priest, standing before the Angel of the Lord (Jesus Christ), and Satan is there to accuse Him. Joshua is standing in the stead of Israel (1-2). Joshua (Israel) stands filthy and unfit before the Lord (3).

The Angel imputes righteousness by cleansing Joshua from his filth (sin) and placing upon him the clean, rich robes that represent the righteousness of Christ (4-5). The Angel then renews His covenant of the priesthood with Joshua (6-7).

Verses 9-10 speak of the result of such cleansing. Israel shall be renewed. My Servant the BRANCH is “aptly expressive since the noun tsemah means ‘things which sprout or shoot forth’ from the earth ...His first advent ...would manifest remarkable vitality and growth, so that in His second advent the sprig from the stump of David ...shall be Israel's glorious king (Isa. 11:2-16)” (Unger, 65).

Perhaps the Stone imagery takes the reader back to Daniel 2. The Statue which represents four world kingdoms is obliterated by “a stone [which] was cut without hands [signifying the work of God], which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2.34-35). The great mountain is a reference to the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, the subject of our next and last study in Zechariah.

“‘Upon the stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave its inscription’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day’” (Zechariah 3.9).