Zechariah 3 Commentary: Verses 6-10 | Let’s return to our study of the 4th vision that the prophet Zechariah received – which is found in the 3rd chapter of his book. Zechariah 3. And we’ll be studying the last five verses of this chapter, but we’ll start by reading the whole chapter for context.
[Read Zec 3…]
So, we saw several things in the first five verses of this chapter.
We had the introduction where five characters were identified.
Then we had the angel of the Lord speak to and rebuke Satan who was accusing Joshua the high priest.
We then saw the angel of the Lord direct some helpers who surrounded Joshua to remove his dirty clothes and replace them with clean ones.
The angel of the Lord – whom I believe is Jesus Christ – then pronounced forgiveness of Joshua’s sins.
And finally, Zechariah contributed to the vision by asking that a clean turban be placed on the high priest’s head.
So, up to that point what we’ve basically seen really serves as an introduction to the real message of the rest of this vision. There are a lot of symbolic activities and actions in the first five verses.
But now we’re going to study the message that goes along with these actions. It’s a message of hope for the present and the future – with the promise of a mysterious being known as God’s “servant, the Branch.”
So, let’s study the details of Zechariah 3:6-10.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: To Joshua (6-8)
Now, after those symbolic actions of removing old filthy clothing and replacing it with new pure clean clothing, the angel of the Lord now has instructions for Joshua.
6 ¶ [And the/Then the/The] angel of the LORD [protested unto Joshua, saying,/admonished Joshua, saying,/exhorted Joshua solemnly:/gave this charge to Joshua:] [LXX: testified to Jesus, saying,]
And what we’re going to see now is that this message that the angel of the Lord is giving to Joshua comes right from the Lord of Hosts in verse 7.
7 [Thus saith/Thus says/X says/This is what X says] the LORD [of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty – NIV/LXX];
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Conditional Promise
And the Lord of Hosts is going to issue a conditional statement to Joshua. It’s a conditional promise.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Condition
So, here’s the condition that needs to be met in order for the promise to kick-in.
If thou wilt walk in my ways, [i.e., if you live according to my requirements…]
and if thou wilt [keep my charge/perform my service/keep my requirements], [i.e., if you work according to my requirements…]
So, that’s the condition. Joshua needs to live and work according to the Lord’s requirements.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Promise
And here comes the promise.
As I can tell, it seems that the promise has two components.
First, there’s an aspect of this promise that is temporal – for Joshua’s current situation.
And second, there’s an aspect of this promise that is eternal.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Temporal
First, the temporal part of the promise.
[then thou shalt also judge/then you will also govern/you will be able to preside over] my [house/temple],
and [shalt also keep/also have charge of/attend to/have charge of] my [courts/courtyards],
So, that’s the part of this promise that’s temporal – for this life. Joshua will be able to continue serving the Lord if his life is right before God.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Eternal
And now, second, we have the eternal part of this promise.
and I will [give thee places to walk/grant you free access/allow you to come and go/will give you a place] among these [that stand by/who are standing here/others who are standing by you/standing here].
Zechariah 3 Commentary: These That Stand By
And I say, this is an eternal promise, because – who are these individuals who are identified as “these that stand by?” I believe that these are heavenly beings.
Remember the beginning of this vision. Joshua is standing before two heavenly beings – the angel of the Lord and Satan. And then the angel of the Lord gives a command concerning Joshua’s clothing – he says to some individuals that we had been previously unaware of “remove his filthy clothes.” “To whom is he talking?” is what we’re left wondering.
And then Zechariah speaks up and commands these unidentified beings as well concerning the kind of garment that should be on Joshua’s head. And apparently the commands are carried out by these beings standing around and taking-in all this action.
So, I think that these commands that have been given in this vision so far are commands to angels – to ministering spirits who are sent forth to minister to them that shall be heirs of salvation – as the book of Hebrews calls them.
So, when the angel of the Lord states that he will give Joshua places to walk or free access among angels, I think the conclusion is unavoidable that he’s offering the potential of eternal life to Joshua. Because no one in this temporal life gets to walk among angels.
And this conforms to other truth we know. Jesus Christ promised believers – those who confess and do not deny him – that he will confess us in the presence of these beings – these angels. And the context there is speaking of the day of judgement and into eternity.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Verse 7 Summary
So, to summarize verse 7, the angel of the Lord has just made a conditional promise – if Joshua lives and works according to the Lord’s requirements, then he will be blessed with the privilege of serving the Lord now in this life and of having access to the heavenly realms thereafter.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: The Branch
Now, those blessed promises that the angel of the Lord has just offered Joshua are followed-up in verse 8 by an even more exciting promise – the promise of the Lord’s coming servant – known simply as “the Branch.”
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Command to Listen
And the promise begins with a command for Joshua to listen.
8 [Hear now/Now listen/Listen now/Listen], [O Joshua/Joshua] [LXX: Jesus] the high priest, thou, and thy [fellows/friends/colleagues/associates] [that sit/who are sitting] before thee:
[for they/indeed they] are men [wondered at/who are a symbol/who are symbolic of things to come] [LXX: diviners]:
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Identity of the Fellows That Sit
So, my question is – who are these people that the angel of the Lord commands to listen – along with Joshua? Because whoever they are, they’re apparently some sort of symbol or at least they have something to do with the message as it moves forward from here. So, it’s important to attempt to identify them.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Are They Angels?
Are these “fellows” or “friends” or “colleagues” or “associates” – are they the angels that we saw before? Are they the ones who took orders from the angel of the Lord and from Zechariah as to how Joshua the high priest ought to be clothed?
Zechariah 3 Commentary: They Are Sitting, Not Standing
I don’t think so. And here’s why. Notice the posture of these people. They’re sitting.
But how is everyone else in this vision positioned? Well, in verse 1 Joshua is standing and Satan is standing. In verse 3 Joshua is still standing. In verse 4 the angel of the Lord addresses the angels that are there to help and minister and they’re standing. And in verse 5 the angel of the Lord is also standing.
So, we’ve seen Joshua, Satan, the angel of the Lord, and these heavenly helpers in the position of standing so far in this vision.
And now all of a sudden, the angel of the Lord addresses Joshua and … those who are sitting before him. So, either this group consists of those angels from before and they just now took a seat. Or more likely in my mind this group that’s identified as sitting in verse 8 is a different group than we’ve seen before.
And while that seems a little strange to us – that there’s all of a sudden this new group of individuals presented to us with no warning – this is not such an unusual occurrence in this book. I commented last time about things and people being introduced with very little or even no introduction or even details in visions like this one.
So, who are these people sitting before Joshua, if they’re not angels?
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Other Priests
Well, the angel of the Lord describes them as Joshua’s “fellows” or “colleagues” or “associates.” These men then are ones who work alongside of Joshua.
Now, Joshua as we’ve heard is the high priest. So, who works with the high priest? Other priests, right?
So, I imagine Joshua standing there and around him are these other priests sitting and watching these proceedings in this vision that was given to Zechariah.
How many priests were sitting around Joshua? I don’t know. We’re not told, and I don’t think we’re even given any hints beyond the fact that there are more than one of them. There might be seven based on the seven eyes that we’re going to hear about later. But that’s just a guess.
OK, so that’s the identity of these men. They’re other unnamed priests. And they’re sitting before Joshua.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Men Wondered At
And then we’re told that Joshua and these men are to be marveled at – or that they symbolize something. Well, what do they symbolize?
They are in some way an indication that the Lord is going to bring his servant the Branch.
[for, behold, I will/for behold I am going to/that I am about to/I am going to] [bring forth/bring in/introduce/bring] my servant the BRANCH.
But what does Joshua and his priestly associates have to do with this servant who’s identified as “the BRANCH?” How are these men symbolic of this coming one that Israel was to be expecting?
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Branch is King
Well, the earlier prophet Jeremiah foretold the coming of this person. But in both of the references that he makes to the Branch, this person is foretold as being – not a priest like Zechariah and his associates, but – a king. The king of Israel.
So, we actually have to look ahead in this book – in the book of Zechariah – in order to get some idea of what the Lord means here. So, if you would, for a moment just look ahead to Zechariah 6. Verses 12 and 13 is what I want us to notice.
Zechariah 6:12-13 falls in the context of a vision in which Joshua – the main character of the vision we’ve been studying – is presented with a crown. Hmm. A priest is going to wear a crown like a king? What does that mean? Well, here’s some explanation.
KJV Zechariah 6:12 And speak unto [him/Joshua], saying,
Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying,
Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:
13 Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest [i.e., like Joshua…] upon his throne [i.e., like the king that the Branch has been prophesied to be…]: and the counsel of peace shall be between [them both/both of those offices of king and priest].
So, this Branch is going to be both a priest and a king. That’s the big piece of information that I want us to take from those two verses. Yes, this man known as the Branch will be king. But he’s also a priest.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Jesus the Messiah is a Priest
And this description fits Jesus Christ the Messiah. The book of Hebrews reveals him as a priest – not like Zechariah – not according to the order of Aaron, but according to the order of Melchizedek. The Gospel of John records what we refer to as Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer” for his disciples. Jesus Christ the Messiah – the Branch – is a priest.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Jesus the Messiah is a King
But Jesus Christ is also a king. The angel told his mother Mary that he would rule on the throne of his father David. Especially toward the end of his earthly life, there was a lot said about his being the King of Israel – and even though his own people rejected his reign and even though the Gentiles mocked him for his claim, yet he is still a King.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Jesus the Messiah is a King and Priest
So, in summary, Jesus Christ is both priest and king. Jesus – the Branch – the Messiah – the King – the Priest. That’s who he is.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: A Sign of Ultimate Fulfillment
And so, Zechariah and his fellow-priests are to be a symbol that this Branch will come – the one who would be both king and priest. How does that work? Well, the fact that these priests still existed as God brought the Jews back from exile means that some day God would bring his ultimate priest – Jesus.
That’s how these men symbolize that God is going to bring his servant the Branch – the priest who is also going to be the king.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: To Zechariah (9-10)
So, moving on, the angel of the Lord seems to abruptly shift focus to the reality that there’s a stone sitting in front of Joshua in this vision in verse 9.
9 [For behold/As for/See] the stone that I have [laid/set] [before/in front of] Joshua [LXX: Jesus];
Zechariah 3 Commentary: The Stone
So, Zechariah is admonished to “behold” or “see” this stone. And the reality is of course that we ourselves can’t see the stone. In fact, we had no idea that there was a stone up to this point. And this kind of thing keeps happening in this vision – where we’re not aware of something until we’re abruptly told about it.
But now we know that there is a stone and it’s “laid before” or “set in front of” Joshua in this vision.
But, again, we can’t see or behold this stone that’s sitting in front of Joshua. And that’s probably why the angel of the Lord continues and gives a bit of an explanation of this stone.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: What the Stone Looks Like
And what we’ll see is that most of the description given has to do with the appearance of this stone.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Eyes on the Stone
First, I would assume that you wouldn’t have guessed that this stone has eyes. But it does – seven of them. Or, at least it will have these eyes at some point.
[upon/on/on the/on that] one stone [shall be/are/there are]seven eyes:
Jesus Referred to Himself as a Stone
So, let’s notice first that the Messiah who is promised in this book of Zechariah – whom we now know to be Jesus Christ – that he referred to himself as a stone.
Do you remember where and to whom he said that? Jesus reminded the religious leaders who were rejecting him that Psalm 118 states, “the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.”
And what Jesus was saying there is that the builders – Israel’s religious leadership – was rejecting the very stone that is the foundation of the building. How foolish of those men! To reject the only foundation upon which the rest of the building would rely. They weren’t very wise builders.
But, this is what Jesus said – that he’s to be compared to a stone. A corner stone that serves as the foundation.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: The Branch is a Stone
And of course, here in Zechariah, the Lord had just promised to send the Messiah – his servant the Branch.
So, I think it’s natural to see this reference to a stone as being another reference to the coming Messiah. He’s a branch. And he’s a stone.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Seven Eyes
And he has seven eyes. What does that mean?
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Literally
Actually – I think we know pretty well what it means on one level. In this vision of Zechariah’s, he’s being directed to look at a literal stone with seven literal eyes on that stone. So, we know what it means in that regard.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Metaphorically
But, what does it really mean? What is God trying to communicate through showing Zechariah a stone – which symbolizes the Messiah – and that this stone has seven eyes?
Zechariah 3 Commentary: The Use of Eyes
Well, what do you do with your eyes? You look. You perceive. You come to understand. And you’re limited in that capacity because you only have two eyes.
But we’re told here that Messiah will have seven eyes.
Now, of course, when Jesus came we didn’t see him with literally seven eyes on his face. But we were confronted with a man who knew or perceived or understood everything.
The woman at the well in Samaria said as much to her fellow Samaritans in John 4:29 – “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: [and here’s her conclusion…] is not this the Christ?”
Jesus could perceive what people were thinking in their hearts. He knew who it was that would betray him before the betrayal ever took place. He told Peter to go to the sea and catch a fish and that there would be a coin in his mouth – and there was! He told his disciples exactly where to find the upper room where he would have his last Passover with them and they found it just as Jesus said they would.
The point is that Jesus was omniscient – he knew and knows everything. And anything that he chose not to know during his earthly ministry was his sovereign choice. That was part of his veiling his deity with humanity.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Jesus Knows Everything
And so, Jesus the Messiah is pictured here in Zechariah as knowing everything through the means of his seven eyes.
And interestingly enough, Jesus is pictured in the book of Revelation in chapter 5 verse 6 as “a Lamb, having seven eyes.” In that case, those seven eyes are described as “seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” So even there, the idea seems to be that he knows everything – those spirits – whatever they may be – are sent out into all the earth. And if something is in all the earth, it apparently knows what’s happening everywhere – it’s omniscient.
So, Jesus Christ has seven eyes – in the sense that he knows everything. That’s what this vision is preparing the Jews for – God’s servant, a branch, who will know everything.
And this is what Joshua and his associates who are sitting in front of him are supposed to symbolize. Maybe there are seven of his associates – I don’t know – the text doesn’t make that clear.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: The Engraving
Well, not only does this stone have seven eyes, it also has an engraving on it – some writing. Or at least it will have some writing at some point – likely future to this vision.
[behold, I will/I am about to/and I will] engrave [the graving thereof/an inscription on it], [saith/declares/says] the LORD [of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty],
Zechariah 3 Commentary: I Will
And I say that this will happen in the future simply because of the verb tense here in English – “I will.” This is something that the Lord promises to do to this stone.
And so, at some point in the future, the Lord says that he will engrave or carve something into this stone.
Now, of course, when you engrave or carve something into some material, it might be a picture of some kind. Or it could be words.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: The Wording
And so, what we see at the end of this verse is that the Lord will engrave some words on this stone. That’s what the angel of the Lord concludes with in this verse. Here’s what that engraving will say.
[and/to the effect that] I will remove the [iniquity/sin] of [that/this] land in [one/a single] day.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: One Day
So, just like the Lord mentions the “one” stone, so now he mentions “one” day. And in that one day, he will remove the iniquity of the land of Israel.
And this will certainly happen in the future when Jesus Christ – this stone with seven eyes and an engraving and this branch – when he comes to deliver his people Israel at the end of the Great Tribulation. He will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
And the following passage that I’m going to read from Micah 3 is well-known because a man named George Frideric Handel decided to include it in his musical composition known entitled, Messiah. But this passage has a direct connection to our passage in Zechariah 3. Let me read Malachi 3:1-4.
KJV Malachi 3:1 ¶ Behold, I [the Lord speaking…] will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: [that’s John the Baptist…] and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, [this is Jesus now…] even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
2 ¶ But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
Now, there’s a lot in these verses – but the big point I want us to see is that when Jesus comes he will purify his people. Micah talks about purifying the Levites, especially. Zechariah speaks of purifying the whole land.
And he’s going to do this in one single day.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Peace Everywhere
And when that happens – when the Lord removes the iniquity of Israel in one singe day, there will be peace everywhere according to verse 10.
10 In that day, [saith/declares/says] the LORD [of hosts/who rules over all/Almighty], [shall ye call every man/every one of you will invite/everyone will invite/each of you will invite] his [neighbor/friend to sit/friends to fellowship/neighbor to sit] under [the/his] vine and under [the/his] fig tree.
Zechariah 3 Commentary: Vine and Fig Tree
Now, the picture of sitting under the vine and the fig tree is one that the Lord uses several times in the Old Testament. It’s a picture of peace.
Everyone “sat under his vine and fig tree” in Israel in the days of Solomon because of the peace that the Lord brought to his people through that king.
But, as Jesus said, when he was on this earth, one greater than Solomon was in their midst. And just as Jesus is greater than Solomon in all the ways that Solomon was great, so too the peace that Jesus will bring will be greater than Solomon’s peace.
When Jesus Christ returns and defeats the enemies of his people Israel, there will be worldwide peace. And it will last 1,000 years as the Prince of Peace reigns in Jerusalem over the entire world and Satan is bound for that period of time.
And just like Jesus Christ can forgive the iniquity of the land of Israel in one day, so too for anyone who has not yet received him, he is able to forgive your iniquity in one day. Come to him and trust him if you haven’t.
And then you’ll be looking forward with the rest of us who are anticipating the promised return of this Branch – this priest and king – who will bring a lasting peace greater than any that this world has seen.