Zechariah is remindful of the donkey, bringing to mind his famous prophecy of the Lord coming in peace, riding on a donkey.
Vision 1 – God’s pity for God’s people | Zechariah 1:7‑17
Vision 2 – God’s protection of God’s people | Zechariah 1:18‑21
Vision 3 – God’s purpose for God’s people | Zechariah 2:1-13
Vision 4 – God’s purification of God’s people | Zechariah 3:1-10
Vision 5 – God’s empowering of God’s people | Zechariah 4:1-14
Vision 6 – God’s perfecting of God’s people | Zechariah 5:1-4
Vision 7 – God’s purging of God’s people | Zechariah 5:5-11
Vision 8 – God’s protecting of God’s people | Zechariah 6:1-8
An angelic guide helped Zechariah understand what God was showing him, throughout the night.
PART 3: Meaning of the Second Half of the Vision
Vision Three: The Priest Joshua and Satan
Then he showed me the high priest Joshua standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.
And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this man a brand plucked from the fire?”
Now Joshua was dressed with filthy clothes as he stood before the angel.
The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”
And to him he said, “See, I have taken your guilt away from you, and I will clothe you with festal apparel.”
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 the apparel; and the angel of the Lord was standing by.
Then the angel of the Lord assured Joshua, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts:
“IF you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, 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.
“Now listen, Joshua, high priest, you and your colleagues who sit before you! For they are an omen of things to come:
* I am going to bring my servant the Branch.
* For on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven facets, I will engrave its inscription, says the Lord of hosts, and
* I will remove the guilt of this land in a single day.
* On that day, says the Lord of hosts, you shall invite each other to come under your vine and fig tree.”Zechariah 3:1-10 (NRSV)
What Does it Mean?
- High priest Joshua represented God’s faithful people.
- Satan is the powerful enemy of humankind.
- The angel of the Lord was a theophany of preincarnate Christ
- Filthy clothes revealed the transgressions and guilt of God’s people.
- Festal apparel was God’s righteousness replacing the people’s wrongs.
- Turban marked the people as “holy to the Lord.”
- The Branch will show up again in an oracle God gave Zechariah after his eighth vision. Today, we know the Branch refers to Jesus, the Messiah.
For Christians, the Branch is a subtle double entendre, as it can be the wooden cross with its arms reaching out and the sturdy trunk of the vine in which every believer is grafted in. In Zechariah’s day, the Branch featured in the prophecy of Messiah delivered by Isaiah,
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him.Isaiah 11 (NRSV)
- Stone is also a metaphor for Messiah.
Perhaps the most well known reference in the Hebrew scriptures is the prophetic nature of this Psalm
I thank you that you have answered me have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.Psalm 118:21-23
But there are two more passages the Apostle Peter attributed to the Lord Jesus, Messiah, both from the prophet Isaiah; one negative,
He will become a sanctuary, a stone one strikes against; for both houses of Israel he will become a rock one stumbles over—a trap and a snare for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.Isaiah 8:14 (NRSV)
And one positive.
Therefore thus says the Lord God,Isaiah 28:16 (NRSV)
See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone,
a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation:
“One who trusts will not panic.”
- Seven represents perfection.
The introduction to the number seven and its significance is found in the first three verses of Genesis 2.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that God had done, and God rested on the seventh day from all the work that God had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that [God] had done in creation.Genesis 2:1-3 (NRSV)
In the original ancient text, the seventh day was described in the seventh paragraph of the creation story. In fact, this is the seventh paragraph, on the seventh day of creation. “Seven” symbolizes perfection, wholeness, and completeness, there is nothing else to be added. It is finished.
The seventh paragraph has thirty-five words, seven times five. “Five” was the ancient symbol of God’s grace. It is, in its way, the perfection of perfect grace.
The word “seven,” the word “Sabbath,” and the word “rest,” are all the same basic word in Hebrew, Shabat, seven, Sabbath, rest.
In the Christian testament the number seven symbolizes the unity of the four corners of the Earth with God-Three-In-On, the union of heaven and earth. The number seven is also featured in the Book of Revelation (seven churches, seven angels, seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven stars), representing the completion of human history, the Day of the Lord when all things will be restored.
The number seven combined with facets of the stone represents the complete knowledge and complete perfection of Jesus, as described in John’s Revelation,
A Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.Revelation 5:6 (NRSV)
The Parts Put Together
The full meaning of Zechariah’s third vision was first God’s message to the people in the rubble of Jerusalem. Though they felt rejected by God, contemptible and filthy in the rags of their forefathers’ sins, reaping the consequences of their forefathers’ transgressions, God had rescued them from the aftermath of God’s wrath. As though God had reached into the furnace of God’s wrath and plucked them out as sticks about to ignite, God had specifically settled God’s love on them and chosen them.
God was even now, in gracious forgiveness of the past—their forefathers’ and their own—cleansing them of all unrighteousness and restoring them as a royal priesthood, made holy unto God. Even as they rebuilt the temple and the walls of God’s holy city, so God was also rebuilding them, restoring their prosperity in the land, both material and spiritual.
This was the same covenant God had cut with their ancestors. If they would love God with all their minds, hearts, souls, and strength, God would give them the Promised Land with all its promised blessing, and full access to the very throne room of heaven—the same access God gave to the angels.
God was also, preparing for them the Messiah who would one day come to permanently remove from them all reprobation. it would happen in one day, a day that would usher in perpetual peace and prosperity.
We know that day has come and is yet to come, for Jesus opened the way through the cross and is preparing us for the Day of the Lord which will usher in the new heavens and the new earth.
[The Tree of Jesse–the trunk and two main branches of the tree are formed by the cross. the root begins in Jesse, with members of Jesus’s genealogy progressing upwards to Mary, mother of Christ | By Pacino di Buonaguida – AA.VV., Galleria dell’Accademia, Giunti, Firenze 1999, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11147190%5D
One scholar suggests the seven facets on the stone may have been a reference to Babylonian iconography the exiles learned of during their time in captivity. Zechariah may have appropriated the imagery as he endeavored to convey the vision God had given him.