"1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4 The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.” 5 Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by." ~ Zechariah 3:1-5
An incredible promise to the Jews is found in Romans 11:1 which reads, "Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin."
God has a wonderful future for Israel, and no book in the Bible makes it more clear than Zechariah. God has not changed His posture toward Israel, He will fulfill His promises to them. And, there is coming a day when they will place their faith in God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today, we come to the fourth vision in Zechariah. The first three visions had the purpose of restoring the people of Israel to God's promised land, the judgment of Israel's enemies and the city of Jerusalem will be rebuilt. This prophecy has had multiple fulfillments and one day its fulfillment will be final in the Millennium.
The first three visions that we have already dealt with, all deal with physical externals. With the beginning of the next set of visions, God will deal with the heart of Israel. God can not and will not fulfill His covenants with Israel until they have been justified in His sight. And so, there has to be salvation in the land before there’s going to be restoration to the land. And that’s precisely what is discussed in this fourth vision.
In v.1-2 of today's text we read, "1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?"
In these two verses God begins to reveal to us how a rebellious sinner goes from being ungodly to being godly. The Jews knew they had sinned. And it’s for sure they knew there was no basis for which God was to bless them because of their sin. They knew God couldn’t tolerate their evil. God had to do something for them that they could not do to themselves: He had to give them a new heart. But, before He can give anyone a new heart, He must deal with our sin first.
In v.1 of today's text we see Joshua the high priest. This is not the Joshua who led the children of Israel into the land in the book of Joshua. This Joshua was the high priest mentioned in Haggai 1:1 and Ezra 5:2. He is also mentioned later in this book in Zechariah 6:11. This Joshua was actually the high priest at that time. In the book of Haggai it is noted that he was the high priest, the son of Jehozadak. And Jehozadak was one of the contemporaries of Zerubbabel, who when they came back from the Babylonian captivity, had led some of the people.
Now, as we look at Joshua the high priest, we are seeing more than Joshua. In the vision of the rider on the red horse, the hammerers, the horns and everything else in this book of Zechariah, these symbols have significance much broader than their own identity. So, Joshua represents a much broader symbol. In fact, Joshua stands for Israel.
Throughout the Scriptures, the high priest is always known as the representative of the people. When the high priest went into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he acted on behalf of the whole nation. For them he prayed, for them he sacrificed, and what happened to him happened to the nation.
Now, in v.2, we read, "The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem." He doesn't say, "Joshua" because Joshua is used as a part of the whole. Joshua is representative of Israel and he is standing before the Angel of the Lord who is Jesus Christ. And, the Angel of the Lord here rebukes Satan. He will not hear the accusation of Satan because Israel will be His people.
Notice that there are two Lords in this text, speaking of the first two persons of the Trinity. The second person of the Trinity has the ultimate responsibility for judgment to the first person. In the wonderful workings of the Trinity, each of the three all have their role. And, in today's text, it was for the Son to ask the Father to do the rebuking of their arch enemy. This is why it is phrase as: "The Lord rebuke you, Satan." The Lord Jesus was asking the Lord, the Father, to rebuke the enemy.
In v.3-4 we read, "3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4 The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you."
The very same Hebrew word used here for "stood" in v.3 is used in Deuteronomy 10:8, Judges 20:28, Ezekiel 44:15, and 2 Chronicles 29:11 to describe the work of the high priest. Here is Joshua, the high priest, ministering before the Angel of the Lord who is the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ. And, according to v.1, "Satan is standing at his right side to accuse him."
Even though accused by the one whose name means "one who opposes" Joshua or Israel is justified in God's sight. God has always forgiven people as the result of them admitting that they are a sinner and crying out for God's help. At this point, God has cleverly found ways to apply the perfect righteousness of His Son to the one who cries out for His help and is repentant.
All of this clearly shows that God is not finished with Israel. He has not set them aside, He still has a plan for His people. He must because there are certain promises that He has made that have not yet been fulfilled.
Revelation 12 describes the future of God dealing with Israel, how, even in the Tribulation, He will protect and bring them to Himself. How when the armies of the beast will chase them into the wilderness, and how the ground will open up and swallow the foreign armies under the control of Satan. And, at the center of it all will be His Son, the second person of the Godhead, the Lord Jesus Christ.
According to v.3, Joshua who represents Israel, "was dressed in filthy clothes." This literally means he was dressed in excrement-covered clothes. He stands there before the Lord in human waste that goes forth from his body. And, the excrement is all over his garments. Such is the nature of our sin.
In v.4, the Angel of the Lord orders that Joshua's crap clothes be taken off of him. Oh, the marvelous grace of God. Only God can cleanse man's sin. On the Day of Atonement, when Aaron offered the sacrifices, he wore his simple linen outfit. And when atonement had been made, he came out and put on his festival garments. When atonement is over, we are to celebrate! God's salvation makes the believer holiness to the Lord.
In v.5 of today's text we read, "Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by."
The prophet Jeremiah said, "all of our righteousness is as filthy rags to the Lord." And, we never want to stand before the Lord in our own goodness. The name Joshua is the Old Testament version of Yeshua or Jesus. God has applied the perfection of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, on all who have trusted Him as their Savior. It is only in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that anyone can be saved. In fact, according to Romans 10:13, "Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."