As you recall from our earlier studies, Zechariah was given eight prophetic visions in one night. We have seen three of them so far. The Man among the myrtle trees, four horns being thrown down by four craftsmen, and a man going to measure Jerusalem.
Tonight, we are being shown the fourth vision that Zechariah saw that night.
The angel that seemed to be Zechariah's guide and interpreter in these visions showed him another scene, one of Joshua. Joshua was the high priest in the days of Zechariah (Hag. 1:1-14; 2:2-4). It is important not to confuse him with the Joshua that led the Israelites into the Promised Land - that Joshua has been dead for many generations at this point.
In Zechariah's vision, he saw Joshua standing before the angel of the Lord.
We discussed in our study of chapter one's vision of the Man among the myrtle trees that "the angel of the Lord" was an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ. Because there is so much new ground to cover tonight, I won't be getting into the proof texts for that. I recommend that you get the tape or the notes for the study on that topic.
Suffice it to say that Joshua the high priest is standing before the Son of God in heaven, Who, interestingly enough, is also a high priest named Joshua! (The name Jesus in Hebrew is Joshua.)
As Joshua stands there before Jesus, satan is also there, accusing him. Accusation seems to be the devil's full-time occupation.
When the apostle John was given a vision of the future, he saw that Michael and his angels will throw the devil out of heaven during the Great Tribulation. At that moment, he heard a loud voice in heaven saying,
Rev. 12:10 ...the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night.
The devil is constantly accusing us before God - so much so that this becomes one of his official titles: "the accuser of our brethren."
He is pointing out every sin, bringing charges against us. But because Jesus Christ has paid the price for all of our sins, the charges can't stick - the penalties were paid at the cross. As Paul said,
Rom. 8:33-34 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
It is evident that satan spends a lot of time being frustrated when he accuses us of our sin, for it has all been paid for. But he does not give up easily. In fact, he has discovered another - often more effective - way to accuse us.
The book of Job tells us that satan accused Job in front of God, saying,
Job 1:9-12 ..."Does Job fear God for nothing? Hast Thou not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Thy hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse Thee to Thy face." Then the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him." So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.
After this, Job lost everything - his wealth, his flocks, even his children. But instead of blaming God or sinning, Job worshiped. After this,
Job 2:3-6 ...the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to ruin him without cause." And Satan answered the LORD and said, "Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. However, put forth Thy hand, now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse Thee to Thy face." So the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life."
Notice that satan wasn't accusing Job of sin he had committed. Rather, his accusations were that he would sin under certain circumstances.
Always remember that satan is not just accusing us for what we have done. He is also accusing us of what he thinks we will do under certain difficulties or temptations, should God allow him to attack us.
The devil is up there saying, "If you let me take that man into bankruptcy, he will abandon his Christianity like as a condemned house. If you let me kill that woman's child, she will become bitter and angry with you. She'll drop her faith like a hot potato."
Paul told the Corinthians that the way to avoid being taken advantage of by satan was not to be ignorant of his schemes (1Cor. 2:11). So, knowing that satan is doing this should equip us for victory.
Begin to look at difficulties not as we normally see them - as "a stroke of bad luck" or "another cruddy day" - but as spiritual tests. Begin to view temptations as a proving ground, rather than something to be defeated by.
You see, trials and temptations are really opportunities to show those in the spiritual realm what we're made of. They become a testimony to God that we have faith in Him and are choosing to walk in victory. They are a testimony against the devil - saying that when he accuses us, he will always be disappointed and proven to be a liar.
When the devil began to accuse Joshua the high priest, the Lord interrupted him. He said, "the Lord rebuke you."
Rebuke is a word that shows up dozens of times in Scripture. What does it mean? "To express sharp disapproval for a fault, to criticize harshly." The word "censure" is often used as a synonym for "rebuke" in political arenas.
Rebuking often comes with penalties and paralyzing effects:
Luke 8:24 ...He rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm.
Ps. 106:9 ...He rebuked the Red Sea and it dried up...
Jude 9 ...Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, "The Lord rebuke you."
The devil had to let go of Moses when he was rebuked, just as he had to let go of his claim to Joshua the high priest when the Lord rebuked him.
God had rescued Joshua like a brand plucked from the fire, or in our language, like a baby rescued from a burning building.
In Scripture, a person's garments often speak of a person's character or condition. Soiled and filthy garments speak of sin, white garments speak of being cleansed and made sinless.
Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, but these were removed and replaced with festal robes. Festal robes were the priests' equivalent of their "Sunday best."
Notice that God had done the work of cleansing, not Joshua. Before God, he was filthy in sin. It was the Lord who removed his iniquity and made him clean. What a perfect picture of the gospel! We can do nothing to save ourselves from our sin - it must be entirely the work of God!
Notice too that a clean turban was put on Joshua's head. The turban was part of the high priests' uniform. It was made of fine linen (Exod. 28:39), and fastened to it with a blue cord was a plate of pure gold engraved with the words, "Holy to the Lord" (Exod. 28:36-37).
This turban had been stained by sin as well, for the priesthood had not been holy to the Lord. God gave him a clean one - you might call this a "turban renewal project"!
Once cleansed, Joshua was told to walk in God's ways and perform the Lord's service. It is important to realize that until Joshua was cleansed, he could not do this.
Most religions preach backwards - saying, "Walk in God's ways, perform His service, and then He will clean you up." But the Bible preaches the opposite: "God has cleaned you up, so walk in His ways and perform His service."
Joshua was promised rewards for walking and serving: continued authority on earth, and angelic access in heaven.
Joshua is now told that he and the priests that served with him were a symbol, a picture, or a type of someone to come - someone who God called, "My servant, the Branch. The Branch is Jesus Christ, who would be a branch - a descendant - of the family line of Jesse through King David.
An interesting thing about this title: although it is used throughout Scripture to refer to Jesus, it applies exclusively to Him when He reigns for a thousand years on earth, in the Millennial Kingdom.
In chapter six, we will read that the Branch will build the temple, being both a king and a priest.
Jer. 23:6 "...And this is His name by which He will be called, The LORD our righteousness.'
Jeremiah also said that this King's rule will be worldwide (Jer 33:14-16). When this King and Priest rules over the earth, Isaiah says that Mount Zion will be covered with a canopy of cloud by day and fire by night (Isa. 4:2-6). When the Branch rules...
Isa. 11:4-8 ...with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, and faithfulness the belt about His waist. And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze; Their young will lie down together; And the lion will eat straw like the ox. And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den.
The world will someday be ruled by righteousness, when Jesus returns as "the Branch."
Jesus is also called "the Stone." He was pictured in Daniel's vision as the stone that destroyed the statue made of various metals. When Daniel explained Nebuchadnezzar's dream to him, he said,
Dan. 2:34 "You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay, and crushed them.
Dan. 2:35 "...the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. "
Again, this refers to the return of Christ, destroying the rebellious nations, and establishing His rule and reign upon the earth. Jesus is the Stone that the builders rejected , Who will become the chief cornerstone (Ps. 118:22; Matt. 21:42; 1Pet 2:7; etc.). He is the Stone of stumbling and the Rock of offense (Rom 9:32-33). He is the Rock that poured forth water in the wilderness (1Cor. 10:4).
The Stone is here described as having seven eyes - complete vision to see all that happens. Jesus is all-seeing, all-knowing. He knows our sins, yet desires to remove our iniquity from us. He said,
Luke 20:18 "Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust."
We can choose to fall on Him - allowing our hearts to be broken by sin - or we can reject His call and the Rock will fall on us.