Zechariah 3 Commentary
This chapter in Zechariah is one of the most exciting ones! In the first two chapters we saw the focus be God the Father. In this third chapter, we see that God the Son is the focus. There are portions of this chapter that speaks directly to the reasons as to why Christ had to come to earth.
Zechariah 3:1 – Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.
This verse is filled with biblical characters! The first one we see is Zechariah himself. He is in this vision. As with the other visions, Zechariah’s role is to communicate the vision.
The next person in this verse is the angel who is showing Zechariah all these things. This character is simply there to communicate to Zechariah what is going on.
The third character we see is Joshua. This is not the same Joshua that was Moses’ second. That person was Son of Nun. This is Son of Jehozadak, the high priest at the time of Zechariah and Haggai. He is also only mentioned in those two books.
The next character is the angel of the Lord. This is Jesus Christ. Jesus is presiding over a heavenly courtroom of sorts. Joshua is standing before Jesus, the Judge, as defendant.
The final character here is Satan. Satan is taking the role of the prosecutor. His role is to accuse Joshua, which fits with Revelation 12:10 where he is the accuser. Interestingly enough, when you read this in Hebrew, you see that Satan is standing there to satan Joshua, which means to accuse him.
Zechariah 3:2 – And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”
Just like in the first verse, there is a lot to unpack in this one as well. We see the Lord placing judgment on Satan and telling him that He has chosen Israel. The covenant still stands. Deuteronomy 7:6-11 is still in play. Even more so, we see that the Lord has plucked them before they were destroyed. This is clearly seen in Amos 4:11.
Romans 8:33-34 tells us “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
There is a story about John Wesley that when he was a child that he was trapped in a housefire and that neighbors climbed on each other’s shoulders to reach him and pull him to safety. Someone drew a picture of that scene for Wesley, which he held onto until the day he died. On the bottom of that drawing, Wesley wrote Zechariah 3:2 to show him the real life example of this verse in his life.
This shows God’s plan of salvation.
Zechariah 3:3 – Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments.
In this verse we see Joshua standing before Christ in filthy garments, which is his sin. These particular filthy garments go back to the book of Isaiah chapter 64 and speak directly to the sin of the priesthood. But these sins could easily be our sins as well.
Zechariah 3:4 – And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”
If this doesn’t make you think of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, then I don’t know what will. Again, the filthy garments are our clothing of sin. But in Revelation 1:5 we see that Jesus washed us in His own blood and then, in Revelation 7:14, we see that our robes were washed in the blood of Christ and they are pure white.
The high priest is typically clothed in the best robes. That symbolizes the imputation of righteousness in Isaiah 61:10. Joshua is now being clothed in righteous robes.
Zechariah 3:5 – And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.
To understand the symbolism in this verse, we need to look at what life was like for the high priests in Zechariah’s day. The high priest would wear a turban that would have an engraved gold plate attached to it that would say “Holiness to the Lord.” This is from Exodus 28:36-38.
Interestingly enough, this is not being commanded by God, but by Zechariah! Zechariah desired to see Israel restored. This piece of symbolism would show that Israel was restored with God’s favor.
Zechariah 3:6 – And the angel of the Lord solemnly assured Joshua,
When one is “solemnly assured” it is a judicial term that was used among Jews and Jewish Christians. In Hebrews 6:17-18 it means an assurance of an oath. This means that Joshua needs to move forward with Christ’s salvation.
Zechariah 3:7 – “Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here.
There is a lot here! God is telling Joshua to make sure that he is walking with Him. BY walking in God’s ways, it means all the ceremonial laws, the moral laws, and the ways of truth and faith.
By keeping God’s charge, we see that He wants Joshua to maintain the Levitical law
If Joshua, and God’s people can do this, then He would restore the honor and glory that was lost by going into captivity. The priestly office was not respected in captivity. It would be restored to a position of honor.
This is a very important verse. Walking with Christ is a daily choice. We choose each day to walk with Christ. We see that choice by the use of the sixth word in the verse, “if.” This means that Joshua has a choice to turn around.
And the result is shown for us as well in verses like Matthew 19:28 and Revelation 3:21.
Zechariah 3:8 – Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch.
Let’s begin with the last word in this verse, the “Branch.” This is a messianic term. When combined with the word before it, “servant,” we see a very strong allusion to Christ the Messiah. Being a branch, it starts from humble beginnings. The Hebrew word literally means “sprout.” It is used quite a bit in prophecy in both Isaiah and Jeremiah. It means that he is literally a descendant of David.
When combined with “servant,” we now understand the Branch’s function: to serve. We see a Messiah that is humble and obedient.
The Lord wants not only Joshua to hear this, but all the priests.
Zechariah 3:9 – For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day.
The “stone” that Zechariah is mentioning here is, of course, messianic as well. We see the stone that was rejected, the stone of stumbling, the refuge, and the cornerstone. With seven eyes, this means that the stone is all seeing and omniscient.
We also see another reference to removing iniquity.
This is a future forward statement that shows the miraculous work that was done on the cross. Stones are used in both Old and New testaments as messianic in nature. And this stone is to be established through the Branch.
Zechariah 3:10 – In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.”
This is the millennial reign of Christ. In that day there will be peace and every neighbor will be invited to enjoy the peace together.
The symbolism of the “vine” is, also, messianic. The Vine is Jesus.
John 15:5 says that Jesus is the vine and we are His branches.