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5. Zechariah 3: “Glory, Vision, and Spirit of the Living God”
Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 5/20/2010
(edited May 2019)
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.”
Zechariah was an Old Covenant prophet of Judah. As the 70-year Babylonian captivity of God’s people is coming to a close, we find Zechariah here is having one of his 10 visions (and ALL 10 happened to him in one night!). God was on the move and bringing glorious hope to His people after a long spiritual draught.
Notice that Satan is also in this vision. Satan seems curious and seeking some type of involvement. I believe, from experience and observation over the years, he still shows up today when the Spirit of God moves among His New Testament people, the Church. Ignoring the dark shadows that can surround God’s work on this earth can be a fatal error. Zechariah could not, I’m sure, ignore what he was seeing in this vision:
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?”
Peter and Jude both comment on this passage in their New Testament writings to warn us, today, against trying to directly attack or approach Satan. One of the most dangerous aspects of adopting unbelieve as a world view is, in addition to ignoring the power and existence of the Lord, also ignoring the existence, workings, and tragic effectiveness of Satan.
[note: I have pondered this more lately and conclude that, perhaps, the existence of a real devil is so distasteful to an unbeliever because to acknowledge this dark power we must also accept that the only hope any of us have to overcome it is to FULLY TRUST and FULLY RELY on the RIGHTEOUSNESS and POWER of Almighty God, and not ourselves.]
That’s exactly what Zechariah is hearing in his vision. Even the “angel of the Lord” can only offer this as a defense: “the Lord rebuke thee, O Satan.” For all of us, whether we realize it or not, resisting Satan exposes our utter spiritual weakness and should never be taken on lightly or presumptuously. This reminds me, to use a more pleasant example of our total dependence on God, of how we believers often close our prayers by saying “in Jesus’ name.” I just about always say that and it’s not just by rote. I KNOW that my only claim to any access to God’s attention comes directly through Christ. This is also very humbling to me, as it should be.
Verses 3-5: “Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. 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 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.”
The priest in this vision represents the whole nation, I would say. They are filthy, brought low, and undone. Brought down by their own sins. Sins against God and their fellow men. But after 70 years of slavery and defeat, and with Satan himself looking on, God is bringing back His nation.
Verses 6-7: “And the angel of the Lord protested unto Joshua, saying, 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.”
The Mosaic Covenant will apply to this restored Israel also, Joshua is being told. Obey and find blessing, regress and suffer. They might be doomed to continue the downward spiral that brought them here to Babylon in the first place. But there is more to come in this vision. Much more:
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.”
When the nation was crumbling around them, 70 years before this vision, both Jerimiah (see Jer. 23:5) and Isaiah (see Isa. 11:1-5) also had prophesied of this coming King, the Branch. Wow! It is hard not to see this as a clear reference to Christ. He would come as the Son of a daughter of King David and His death and resurrection, still yet to happen, would usher in the swallowing up of the Old Covenant and institute the Age of Grace. This was more than anyone in Zechariah’s day could imagine or pray for. And yet for all the prophesy and foretelling Jesus would still be rejected by the leaders of Israel when He finally came on the scene. They must have been very confused. (What can I say, I rejected Him also until I was 24 years old!)
The language we’re hearing now is the Lord’s. It is difficult still to fully grasp:
Verses 9-10: “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. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.”
Other leaders would be raised up for Israel prior to Christ’s birth. Forgiveness and brotherhood would blossom and then wane, as before in their History. The Temple would be rebuilt but the Mosaic Covenant was waxing old, God having something far better in store for anyone today in any nation who will personally accept Christ as the full and final propitiation for their sins.
Back in the 1980’s I had sent a “fan” letter to a then-famous radio preacher, Dr. J. Vernon McGee, asking for advice about my shaky efforts at the time to launch a local music ministry here in New Jersey. His reply came in the form of a reference to the next chapter and vision in this book, especially Zechariah chapter 4, verse 5:
“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”
I really took this advice to heart. Dr. McGee was a wise man. This WAS not only great advice for King Zerubbabel in Zechariah’s day, but it REMAINS the BEST WAY for you and me to serve the Lord.