Zech 3:8 Hear Now, O Joshua, I Will Bring Forth My Servant the Branch 5/10/15
· Do Not Touch Established Principles (Ex 3:1-7, John 3:3-7, Col 2:9, Zech 1,2, Gen 2:15, Rev 1:6)
#1. The Priesthood of All Believers (Zech 3:1-9, Isa 4:2, 11:1, Jer 23:5, 33:15, Psalm 80:15, John 15:6, Rev 5:6, John 5:22-32)
· Restoration of the Priesthood for All Believers (Zech 3:1-9)
#2. I Will Bring Forth My Servant the Branch (Zech 3:8)
· Behold, I Will Engrave the Graving Thereof (Zech 3:9, 4:10)
#3. Under the Vine and Under the Fig Tree (Zech 3:10,1King 4:25, Mic 4:4)
· Called to Serve
· Do Not Touch Established Principles (Ex 3:1-7, Col 2:9, Zech 1,2, Gen 2:15, Rev 1:6)
Please turn to Exodus 1:17 (2X). Let us get some well-known principles out of the way. We have progressed to the fourth vision in the prophecy of Zechariah. God shows us here the prophet Zechariah and the Angel of the Lord. Before we go on we need to know who the Angel of the Lord is. The first time that we see the Angel of the Lord in the Bible is when Moses stood before the burning bush. You might turn there or you could just listen, for this is a very familiar story. Every following time we see the Angel of the Lord in the Bible it boils down to the same principle. We find this in Ex 3:1-7 (2X) “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. 2 And the Angel of the LORD (2X) appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. 4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God (2X) called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. 5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.”
And so we see here that the Angel of the Lord, which literally means the Messenger of the Lord, is actually described as God Himself. This is understandable. The Lord Jesus Christ is God the Son, who is the Second Person of the triune God, who is fully God Himself. We already know that each of the Three Persons of the triune God is fully God. That is why we read in Col 2:9 (2X), “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (2X)”. It means that the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God the Son, is fully God, just like God the Father is fully God, and just like God the Holy Spirit is fully God. And now we learned that the Angel of the Lord, also known as the Messenger of the Lord, is also fully God, because we now understand that the Angel of the Lord is the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Lord Jesus Christ is fully God. But why did God the Son manifest Himself in a flame of fire? He did so because the Lord Jesus Christ is demonstrating that He endured the equivalent of an eternity in hell when He atoned for our sins. O yes! He did not suffer only in His body, when He paid for our sins. The righteousness of God has to be satisfied in His soul and in His body, which means that the payment that He made had to be made in full and it had to be equivalent to the payment that we have to make if we would be atoning for our own sins. Our payment for our sins is an eternity in hell, and thus the payment of the Lord Jesus Christ in our place has to be the equivalent of an eternity in hell.
We have come now to the third chapter in the Prophecy of Zechariah, which deals with the restoration of the priesthood of all believers. This is a chapter about hell. Let us review what we have covered so far. In Zech 1 we saw the rider on the red horse, who was Christ Himself, was unhappy that all the earth was at rest. In Zech 2 we saw the armies of Satan as the four horns, and the armies of Christ as the four carpenters, doing battle within the church, and the message of God was that the armies of Christ were going to be the victors. Therefore the message is that the Church will be restored; and that is not the outwardly visible church, but the eternal church of only truly saved people. The question remaining is When? When will this glorious future come to pass that this passage speaks about? While we try to answer this question we must remember that mankind was created to glorify God. And thus from the beginning of time those who were appointed and chosen were appointed as prophets, priests and kings, to glorify God in their complete personality. We can see priests and kings in the Bible, for example we are called a royal priesthood (1Pet 2:9), but where are we called prophets? We are called prophets whenever we are proclaiming the message from God, the Bible, to mankind.
#1. Prophets Priests and Kings (Zech 3:1-9, Isa 4:2, 11:1, 64:6, Ecc 7:20, Jer 23:5, 33:15, Psalm 80:15, John 15:6, Rev 5:6, John 5:22-32)
Prophets are those who bring words or works from God to the people. Priests are those who bring words or works from the people to God. It is not commonly known that to that priestly service man was called when God put him in the Garden of Eden to dress it and keep it (Gen 2:15). To that priestly service Aaron and his sons were called on behalf of all Israel. Doing that service every Old Testament and New Testament priest comes into God’s presence bearing these precious gifts. To that priestly service we are restored through the work of Christ, for He has made us kings and priests unto God and His Father, (from Rev 1:6.) Please turn now to the Prophecy of Zechariah, Zech 3:1 (2X). In this chapter Joshua is functioning as the high-priest of the little group of Israelites who have returned from Babylon. We read in Zech 3:1-5,
Zech 3:1 ¶ “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. 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? 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the Angel. 4 And He (the Angel) answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him (to Joshua) He said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment, (which represents a change of righteousness, doing away your own righteousness, which is filthy, and receiving the righteousness of Christ.) 5 And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head, as a token of the high priestly outfit. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the Angel of the LORD stood by.”
Let us look again at verse 2 and please turn to Isa 64:6 (2X).
Zech 3:2 “Even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee Satan: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” Paraphrased the LORD says to all those who stand around: “Is not this a firebrand just snatched out of the fire?” What fire is God talking about? It is the fire of hell. Joshua is just in time snatched out of the fire of hell, for he was as filthy and as unrighteous as anyone destined for hell. His filthy clothes prove it, for he was as dirty as someone who had just been snatched out of the pit of fire and brimstone. We read in Isa 64:6,
Isa 64:6, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
Joshua’s unrighteousness has been symbolized by the dirty clothes that He wore. God is hereby demonstrating that the righteousness of the most holy person on earth, the high priest, is not sufficient to keep this person out of hell. Like God says in Ecc 7:20, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” Even in the act of doing good this just man sins. And so, since God must punish all sins it is understandable that Joshua was cast into hell. But the unbelievable grace of God unto salvation, and the incredible mercy of God caused Him to snatch Joshua out of the pit of hell.
Sanctification must follow justification, for Christ purchased not only forgiveness for all our sins, but also the right to serve God once again. As Joshua the priest is symbolically restored to his high-priestly office the Angel of the Lord stands by. He stands there intently observing what He will have to do when He will function as the High priest in the house of God, and under whose rule all other priests must serve. He watches also to make sure that all that happens prefigures His own priestly work on our behalf. He makes sure the work is properly and profitably pictured in the reclothing of Joshua, and in the charge given to Joshua. We read in Zech 3:6-9, about the “Priesthood of all Believers,”
Zech 3:6 “And the Angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua,” That word “protested” is actually a very poor translation, for Almighty God does not protest to mankind. The proper word is “charged”.
Zech 3:6-9 And the Angel of the LORD charged Joshua, saying, 7 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. 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 (2X). 9 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.”
#2. I Will Bring Forth My Servant The Branch (Zech 3:8)
Consider the interpretation of verses 6 and 7 which state: If ….. , and if ….. , then thou shalt also judge My house, and so on. We should not see in these verses a conditional statement, as if God is waiting for man’s response: If and if you do this, then I will give you great honor in judging My house. No! Man is not the initiator of these actions. Our God is not a responsive God, but He is a proactive God. We must interpret these verses in harmony with the rest of the Bible. Therefore we should see in these verses the results of God’s actions within us. Therefore we understand these verses as follows:
“If thou wilt see that thou walk in My ways, and if thou wilt see that thou keep My charge, then thou shalt also know that I have done this to thy soul, and I will give thee to judge my house, and thou shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.”
What does this mean? These that stand by are all of the true Israel, all the elect including us. The reference is especially to the Old Testament priesthood. They were “men to be wondered at”, or literally “men of the sign”. In their priestly offices they were a sign of things to come and of a better priesthood, the priesthood of “the Branch”. Here the Word of God is not talking about the amazing grace shown to that Old Testament priesthood, but it shows us a picture of the priesthood of Christ. The Branch is used as a name for Christ in many places in the Bible. For example in Isa 4:2, Isa 11:1, Jer 23:5, Jer 33:15, Psalm 80:15, and in the Greek text of John 15:6. But it refers to Him not as a mighty branch of a great tree, but as the sprout or the shoot of a great tree that has been cut down and that now comes out of the ground. This reminds us of the sad state of the house of David in the years ahead. As in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision it was like a sprout or a shoot of a great tree that has been cut down with only its stump remaining. Out of that stump Christ comes, unexpectedly, lowly, and despised. These verses speak of Christ in His kingly office, and Christ as the Suffering Servant of Jehovah. Yet his Kingly office was important also as well as the days of His humiliation. Without the power of His Kingly office, the priestly office was powerless. We should keep this in mind when we read about His priestly office here and elsewhere. We continue now in Zech 3:9,
Zech 3:9, “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.” Here is a verse which definitely refers to the Lord Jesus Christ, for only Christ can remove the iniquity of a land in one day. In all the history of the world there was only one day when sins were forgiven, and that was on Friday, April 3, in the year AD 33, when Christ hung on the cross. He was the stone which the builders rejected, which became the head of the corner. He was not a small stone, like the jewels on the breastplate of the high priest, but He was a large stone which served as the cornerstone of a temple. This is not referring to Zerubbabel’s temple, for this too was only a shadow of the real temple. But this was referring to the real temple, which was the body of Christ, the temple which He built in three days after His death on the cross. Christ is the cornerstone of that temple. This was the stone which the Lord has laid before Joshua, and the seven eyes indicate that His Holy Spirit was seeing all that the future would bring to His beloved eternal church. He would see how His church was going to be maligned and blasphemed by people who claimed to belong to the eternal church, but these same people then proclaimed that the church is dead, and that we must depart out of that church. That is utter blasphemy. How can that be true? The eternal church, the church that consists of all the saints who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ cannot go astray, for that conflicts with the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Therefore do not believe those who say that we must depart out of the church. That is a horrendous blasphemy, and it bears the sting of the Arminian heresy. Even if the church seems to go astray, be assured that Christ will never abandon a work that He has begun, for God cannot be frustrated. God cannot begin a work and then sometime later declare that the work has been a failure. The Lord Jesus Christ established His church as a picture of His Bride (Eph 5:22-33). Therefore we must be careful in what we do with this picture, even though it is only a picture or a shadow; we must be careful for Christ Himself created this shadow. Now we continue in Zech 3:6-8,
Zech 3:6, And the angel of the LORD “charged” unto Joshua, saying, 7 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. Zech 3:8 ¶ 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.” What does God mean when He said, “Hear now, O Joshua the high priest”? What was Joshua supposed to hear? In fact, there was nothing that Joshua was supposed to hear, but instead he had to see. The message that Joshua had to see was: My Servant the Branch, or My Servant Christ. 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 Christ.” Why was the Lord Jesus Christ manifested as The Branch? Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to John, John 15:6 (2X). We have here a verse which in the original Greek text bears a significant difference from the English KJV.
John 15:6, If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
However the Greek Text reads,
John 15:6, If anyone abide not in me, he is cast forth as The Branch (2X), and is dried out; and they gather them, and throw (them) into a fire, and they are burned.
In other words, “if anyone does not abide in Christ, he is cast forth as Christ was cast forth, and is dried out, and is cast into a fire, and they are burned.” This is a verse concerning hell, and it is showing that Christ had to endure the same hell that sinners have to endure. The only difference is that Christ had to endure the equivalent of an eternity in hell, whereas sinners are not able to endure hell to such intensity, for then they would be consumed. Let us read what God says through the prophet Jeremiah about the Branch. Please turn now to Jer 23:5 (2X) and let us hear these beautiful words from God,
Jer 23:5-6, “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 8 But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.” What does this mean? It means first of all that the exodus out of Egypt and the parting of the waters of the Red Sea is no longer the miracle of the great deliverance out of the house of bondage, but something else came in its place, something much greater than that. What came in its place? It was the miracle of the cross; it was the miracle of the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ for the sins of His people. For example, people who are killing one another with poisons that are called medicines. They are unintentionally killing one another, and for them there is the grace and the mercy of God, for they did not do it intentionally. But some do it intentionally for the sake of money, and for them there will be no mercy. “The Lord knoweth them that are His.” Moreover, when we look at verse 6, Jer 23:6, we see in big bold letters THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, what does it mean? It means that our own righteousness is never sufficient. Like in the case of Joshua the High priest, his own righteousness was only good enough to cast him into hell. Therefore we need the righteousness of Christ, and only the righteousness of Christ will be acceptable to God. That is why the name of Christ is: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. This is a substitution verse. Only if His righteousness is imputed to our soul will our salvation be complete. Only if His full substitution for our whole personality, in body and soul, has been imputed to us, will we be saved and will we inherit eternal life with Christ in the New Heaven and the New Earth. But for those with malicious intent the murder will be avenged by Christ Himself, for if we murder for gain of money, or for gain of reputation, or for any other selfish gain we are like Judas Iscariot, and we shall be condemned with him in the eternal fire of hell.
Zech 3:9, 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. 10 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbor under the vine and under the fig tree.”
· Behold, I Will Engrave the Graving Thereof (Zech 3:9, 4:10)
I will do it! Can we expect anything else from a God such as this? This God says in Isa 49:16, “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls (of protection) are continually before me.” How did God engrave our names on the palms of His hands? Physically He did that with nails on the wood of the cross. Bang! and Bang! But spiritually He did that far more painfully. He suffered the equivalence of an eternity in hell. Think of that the next time you sin. Is this what you want your Savior to suffer for your temporary pleasure? This decision that you make will depend on what you believe. And so, you can see that your faith does make the final decision. Your actions do not stand on their own, but like the Lord Jesus said to the many whom He healed from their diseases “Your faith has made you whole.” Their faith did not come after they have been healed, but their true faith was already present before their healing was complete. Let us now see what the Lord means in Zech 3:9.
Zech 3:9 “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.” Here we can clearly see the identity of the man who is called “The Branch”. The Branch must be the Lord Jesus Christ, for He alone is able to remove the iniquity of a whole land in one day. In the entire history of the world there was only one day that sins were forgiven, and that was on Friday afternoon at about 3 O’clock, April 3 in the year AD 33, when the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross. That was when many sins were forgiven at the same time.
And what do we do with the words “upon one stone shall be seven eyes”? When we search the Bible we see a verse that seems to convey the same idea. We find in Rev 5:6 these words,
Rev 5:6, “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” Here are the seven spirits of God again. Does God the Holy Spirit exist as seven spirits? No, not really. In Revelation the Holy Spirit is described as seven, not because there are seven Holy Spirits, but because He lives in the seven churches of Asia Minor, which are a picture of the church in every age with its strengths and weaknesses. He is called “the seven Spirits” for the number seven indicates the fulness of God’s covenant of grace, and the fullness of the church in which He dwells is also indicated by the number seven. And so, both the eyes and the stone belong to Christ Himself, who manifests Himself as both The Branch and the stone. As the stone He is the foundation of the church, and those seven eyes belong to the church, just as those seven spirits live in the seven churches of Asia. As The Branch guarantees the regrowth of the church out of the stump that has been left in the ground, so the stone represents a guarantee of the rebuilding of the church in Christ. Please turn again to Zech 4:10, and there we read:
Zech 4:10, For who hath despised the day of small things? for they (the small things) shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven (eyes); they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.
What is the day of small things? These are small things in the eyes of the heathen round about them, but these are not small things in the eyes of God. When Christ comes again, the world of the heathen is turning about just as normal as at any time before. Only the saints will know that Christ is coming soon, and they, the small things, shall rejoice for they know that they will receive a new master.
#3. Under the Vine and Under the Fig Tree (Zech 3:10, 1King 4:25, Mic 4:4)
Zech 3:10. “In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbor under the vine and under the fig tree.” That is a peculiar expression, which occurs only here and in two other places in the Old Testament. Let us compare these two other places.
1King 4:25, “And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.”
Mic 4:4, “But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.”
What do we see in all three cases? In all three instances the world of Israel is having a time of peace. And thus when we see the expression “Under the vine and under the fig tree,” it indicates that there was a spiritual peace in Israel. Do we presently have spiritual peace in our nation of Israel?
· Called to Serve
This Chapter should be titled: Hear Now, O Joshua, I Will Bring Forth My Servant the Branch. And this address is not only to the high priest Joshua, but it is addressed to all the New Testament believers. Perhaps you know that all the New Testament saints are called a priesthood of believers, and that applies to both men and women and children. In other words, the New Testament priesthood of believers is not of the Aaronic line, but is of the line of Christ. We are the priests in this priesthood of believers, which is of the line of The Branch, which is of the line of Christ. Now, the question I have before you is this: Will you serve in the priesthood of The Branch? In fact I want you to serve as complete personalities, which means as prophets, priests and kings. I will not require from you that you suffer as the apostle Paul did, but that you give of your whole self wherever your skills are required. As prophets whenever you are required to proclaim the true Gospel as it is found in the Bible, which means the Gospel of grace alone, and that you fight for the true Gospel wherever it is being opposed by the Arminian gospel of works. As priests of the order of The Branch, it means that you bring the Word of God to men in order to bring men to Christ. As you can see, this task goes hand in hand with the task of being a prophet of the Lord. As kings it means you are making decisions who shall live and who shall die. When you decide who shall live, you decide to whom you shall talk and communicate the Gospel. You do not make this decision based on your own intuition, but you will be prompted by God the Holy Spirit. In fact, all the decisions you make are prompted by God the Holy Spirit because you are a child of God, and God lives within you. Whom you pass by will be led by the evil One, and all his prompting will lead only to more evil. In other words, your presence in this world will be a great blessing to all those whom God intends to save. That is why God says, “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you,” and God did not say this only to the descendants of Abraham, but God said this to all those with whom you will come in contact. Therefore to be a priest of the order of The Branch is a great honor in the service of Christ. We are called to serve, but those who heed the call are not serving by their own free will, but they are prompted by Christ. The remaining question is When? When will this glorious future come to pass that this passage speaks about? It will be when we have become “Born Again”.
AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.