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Zechariah Chapter Three (3)


Zechariah chapter 3 continues the vision started in Chapter one verse 18.  This is the fourth vision in the series; here scripture shows the High Priest named Joshua (Jeshua), who was involved with Zerubbabel, the governor, in laying the foundation for the second Temple.  In chapter 3, we see Joshua as a sign, or picture of the coming Messiah, the servant, called the Branch, who in one day would, removes the sin of the land.

            Chapter 3 also reveals the struggle in the spiritual realms asSatan, the adversary, accuses Joshua the High Priest.  The Angel of the Lord, the pre-incarnate Christ, intercedes on Joshua’s behalf before the accuser.  Joshua, the High Priest, then given clean garments, the Angel of the Lord then admonishes Joshua to serve with righteousness.

            Joshua however, is a sign or a picture of the coming Messiah, called the Branch (vs.8).  The amazing part being Joshua, has the same name as Jesus (Joshua, Jeshua) who he typifies.      

Zechariah 3

Vision of the High Priest

 1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, "The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?" 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. 4 Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, "Take away the filthy garments from him." And to him He said, "See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes." 5 And I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the Lord stood by.

  (1)  Then:  Zechariah transitions from the third to the fourth vision, in the third vision, we are presented with the future glory of Jerusalem, when the “Presence” of the Lord will dwell in the city and be its glory and defender.  Here, we look to the office of the High-Priest occupied by Joshua son of Jehozadak (Haggai 1:1,1;12), one day to be occupied by the man, the BRANCH, the Messiah.

Joshua: (Also spelled Jeshua) the name means, “Jehovah is salvation”, [wXwhy Y’howshuwa`,the more famous Joshua is the successor of Moses, Joshua son of Nun (Numbers 11:28).  This Joshua is the son of Josedech, of the priestly line; his father did not serve as High Priest since his grandfather the High Priest Seraiah was taken captive into Babylon in 586 B.C.  Joshua son of Josedech returned with Zerubbabel from Babylon. He along with Zerubbabel began the construction of the 2ndTemple (Ezra 5:2).

            The name Joshua was name Jesus in the original Hebrew.  Jesus is the English pronunciation of the Greek translation, so the name Jesus is Joshua.       


High-Priest Line


Seraiah  (586 B.C.)

Taken captive to Babylon (2 Kings 25:18) 586 B.C.

Josedech (Jehozadek)

Did not serve as High Priest in Babylon

Joshua  (520 B.C.)

First High Priest after Babylon  Haggai 1:1,12


High-Priest by implication, not specifically called High Priest

Eliashib  (444 B.C.)

Grandson of Joshua, High Priest during the time of Nehemiah. (Neh. 3:1)


The high priest:  The office of the High Priest was to reside over the House of the Lord, (The Temple) in the succession from Aaron (Exodus 29:7).  He would offer the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, for the sins of the nation. (Lev. 16) The High Priest was a type or picture of the priestly office of Messiah, as explained in Hebrew 9 and 10.


11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. Hebrew 9:11-12

             Joshua son of Josedech  is referred to  a number of times, in scripture (Haggai 1:1,12,14, 2:2,4, Zechariah 3:1,3,6,8,9; 6:11, Nehemiah ).  According to Rashi, the Jewish commentator, Joshua the High Priest was defiled because he allowed his sons to marry pagan women (Ezra 10;18).    

            The descendents of Joshua, proved to be ungodly and allowed theTemple to be used by the enemies of the Lord. (Nehemiah 13:28)

Angel of the Lord:  Zechariah is witnessing a trial taking place in Heaven, with Satan as the accuser and the Angel of the Lord, as the intercessor.  Here we see Christ, before his incarnation, interceding on the behalf of Joshua, the restored High Priest.    

            The nature of the Angel of the Lord is revealed in the 2nd verse, as He is called hwhy Y’hovah, when he rejects Satan’s accusations against Joshua the high priest.  The nature of the Angel of the Lord is demonstrated throughout scripture, (Genesis 16:7-11, 22:11,15, Exodus 3:, Numbers 22:22-35), speaking first person for God, demonstrating His divine nature.  In Zechariah 3, The Angel of Lord, demonstrates His ability to forgive sin, (Verse 4). 

Satan:  !tX Satan The word means, adversary, one who withstands.  In the book of Job, we see Satan, the adversary come before the throne of God to accuse Job.  (Job 1-2) 

9 So Satan answered the Lord and said, "Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 "Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. Job 1:9-10

             According to scripture Satan was a covering Cherub angel, who rebelled against God when pride entered him, Ezekiel 28:14-17.  One third of the angelic host followed Satan in the rebellion against God’s authority (Revelation 12:4).  He is the accuser of the brethren, who opposes Christ, our advocate, before the throne of God.  (Revelation 12:10).

            Satan accused Joshua the restored High Priest, proclaiming his sin before the throne of God.  Satan does the same to the believer today; Jesus is our advocate before the throne of God, as He was for Joshua the High Priest in the days of Zechariah. 

His right hand: Satan had access to the throne of God to accuse, God’s elect.  He accused Job, he accused Joshua the high priest and today he accuses us.   Satan stood either at the right hand of Joshua or the Angel of the Lord, its not totally clear.  Satan withstood Joshua, probably accusing him of not being worthy to fulfill the role of high priest. One fault Joshua had was allowing his sons to marry pagan women, demonstrating his lack of commitment to raising his children.  His children would later prove to be allies of Tobiah and opposed to Nehemiah. (Nehemiah 13)


(2) The Lord: Here the Angel of the Lord is called hwhyY’hovah, demonstrating His divinity.  The word for Angel is $alm Mal'ak,which means messenger.  The Angel of the Lord is the “Word” or Logos of God, the second person of the Trinity.  The Angel of the Lord, who is called Y’hovah replies, “Yehovah rebuke you”.  Here we see the “Angel of the Lord” called Yehovah referring to Yehovah. 

Said To Satan: Satan is the adversary, he is a personal being, a fallen angel who is an adversary to both God and man, he was at the fall of man, in Genesis 3. 

The Lord rebuke you Satan:  The angel serving as intercessor, demurred to rebuke Satan Himself but, appealed to the Father to rebuke Satan.  Jerusalem at this point has been restored, and Joshua the High Priest will serve the role as High priest as ordained in scripture.  Jerusalem restoration made way for the “Glory of the Lord” who would be the Jerusalem’s King, (Zechariah 14:17) who would enter Jerusalem on the back of donkey, before he ruled from the city (Zechariah 9:9) in glory and power.

Brand plucked: The Lord spared Joshua the High Priest for his purpose and function, which was to restore Jerusalem, to its exalted position of cities on the earth.  Joshua was the rightful High Priest, according to priestly decent.  His being chosen in spite of his sins demonstrates the grace of God.

(3)  Joshua…filthy garments:  Joshua the High Priest, in the spiritual realms was filthy. The Hebrew word here implies excrement. So literally, the “excrement” of sin covers Joshua in the spiritual realms, as he stood before Satan and the Angel of the Lord. (See Deut 23:14).  Joshua’s filthy garments were a picture of his sinful and helpless state before the Heaven he needed grace.

Before the Angel:  Joshua is standing as if on trial, before the Heavenly court.  Satan is accusing him.

(4) He answered:  The Angel of the Lord now commands those standing around watching the proceedings, to remove the filthy clothes from the High Priest.  Another point to keep in mind is the authority, which the Angel of the Lord has at this point.  He not only orders the other angels, but he also removes Joshua’s sin.

            Clothing throughout scripture is a visual indicator of a person’s holiness.  Filthy clothes represent sins, which are attached to the person.

9 "I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow,   Daniel 7;9a

 6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.  Isaiah 64:6

 Stood before Him: The Angel of the Lord’s comments were directed to the angelic host who stood by. 

Take away… filthy garments:  The garments represented the filthy condition of Joshua the High Priest.  However, here we see the mercy and grace of the Lord, who removes his garments stained by sin.

I have removed…iniquity from you: The Angel of the Lord demonstrates another aspect of his identity, the ability to forgive sins, demonstrating the same character of Jesus who also forgave sins during His ministry. ( See Mark 2;5-9, Luke 5:22-25, Romans 11;27)


2 Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you." 3 And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, "This Man blasphemes!" 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 "For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise and walk'? 6 "But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins"-then He said to the paralytic, "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house."
Matthew 9:2-6

             Only the person sinned against can forgive the sin.  For example, is someone takes money from a one friend, the sin against one friend cannot be forgiven by another friend.  Only the person who was offended can accept and forgive the transgression.  When we sin against people we also sin against God, for this reason scripture requires restoration with the person and sacrifice for the sin against God.  God owns our sin.  So in this way an angel can not just dismiss sin if he were not God. Sins against God, cannot just be dismissed by “an angel” or “a man”, no matter how sincere.  The Jews who heard Jesus forgive sins understood this concept.  The sacrificial system was built on atonement before God, for the transgression of sin.

            So when Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven” the Jews understood the words were blasphemous, if Jesus was not God he could not forgive sins against God.  If the Angel of the Lord were not God, he could not forgive sins against God. 

Angel of the Lord


“I have removed your iniquity from you”Zechariah 3:4

'Your  sins are forgiven you” Matthew  9:2

and I will clothe you with rich robes Zechariah 3:4

"I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed”, Revelation 3;18

 I will clothe you.. rich robes:  Again the Angel demonstrates His nature by promising to cloth Joshua in rich robes.  Here the robes are in relation to righteousness, which replace the filthy garments of Joshua’s sin.  Again, we need to ask, what type of angel can not only forgive sins, but then promise robes of righteousness.

            This is the promise to saints made by Christ, to wear clean clothes (Revelation 3:4,5; 7:13; 16:15, 19:8) representing righteousness. The only reason saints wear white according to scripture, is because righteousness is imparted to them via the sacrifice of Messiah’s (Christ) death. (Isaiah 53)

            In this light, the Angel’s words of imparting righteousness, via “rich clothes” demonstrates the Angel’s deity, and ownership of sins. His replacing filthy clothes for rich also demonstrates His intercessional nature, intervening on the behalf of sin.  This same person would one day come and bear the sins He is removing.

(5) I said: Zechariah the prophet is witnessing the restoration of the High Priest, and takes an active role, being a priest himself, son of Iddo. Zechariah intercedes, a priestly function, that a turban be placed on his head, according to theMosiac Law (Exodus 29:6, 39:30)

(6) Angel…stood by:  Listening to Zechariah, the angels standing in the presence of Zechariah, place the crown of the priesthood on Joshua, while the Angel of the Lord and the others stand and watch.

            The events taking place here are in the spiritual realms, so those on earth, other then Zechariah who reveals the events, are not aware of what is even taking place.

 The coming of the BRANCH

 6 Then the Angel of the Lord admonished Joshua, saying, 7 "Thus says the Lord of hosts: 'If you will walk in My ways, And if you will keep My command, Then you shall also judge My house, And likewise have charge of My courts; I will give you places to walk Among these who stand here. 8 'Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, You and your companions who sit before you, For they are a wondrous sign; For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH. 9 For behold, the stone That I have laid before Joshua: Upon the stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave its inscription,' Says the Lord of hosts, 'And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. 10 In that day,' says the Lord of hosts, 'Everyone will invite his neighbor Under his vine and under his fig tree.' "

 (6) Angel… admonished Joshua: Representing the Father to Joshua, in the same way Jesus represented the Father, to humanity, he instructs Joshua, admonishing him to turn. The Hebrew word for admonished is, dw[ `uwd, meaning to bear witness, say again and again, (Hophal) to protest, give warning.  The angel has cleansed Joshua, but Joshua still must be responsible for his actions. 

(7)Says…Lord of Hosts:  The Angel of the Lord now representing the Lord of Hosts, speaks to Joshua.  Letting Joshua know he has a responsibility to be righteous and walk in the ways of the Lord, and then in return he will be favored, and allowed to continue in his position.

My house:  The Temple was viewed as the house of God, the place where God choose to reveal Himself to the world, the specific location in the city of Jerusalem.

Among those who stand here:  Looking forward to the day of redemption, and resurrection, Joshua is offered a position of prominence, to stand in the presence of the Lord of Hosts with the angels.

(8) Hear, O Joshua:  The Angel of the Lord, now has an important message for Joshua, who is told to      [mX Shama`or listen and obey.  This term is used for the nation, when a message of particular importance was presented.

 3 "Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you-'a land flowing with milk and honey.'  Deuteronomy 6:3

 Joshua and his companions represented the restored body of Israel, gathered from Babylon.  As Moses brought attention to Israel, the Angel of the Lord is calling out to Joshua and those under him in the priesthood and Levites, to pay particular attention to what is coming.

 Wondrous sign: What should Joshua and his companions pay attention too? Representing the house of Israel, the are instructed to know they are themselves are signs or types of the coming “Branch”, the servant or slave.  The Jewish Study Bible Tanakh Translation, reads.

 Hearken well, O High Priest Joshua, you and your fellow priests sitting before you! For those men are a sign that I am going to bring, My servant the Branch Zechariah 3:8[1]

 Joshua, though he was High Priest, served as a type or sign of the coming Messiah, whose name would also be Joshua (Jesus).  The Hebrew word used for wonder is tpwm Mowpheth, meaning wonder, sign, miracle, portent.  This same word is used in Isaiah 8:18 to describe the status of Isaiah’s children who were for signs of coming events.

 18 Here am I and the children whom the Lord has given me! We are for signs and wonders in Israel From the Lord of hosts, Who dwells in Mount Zion. Isaiah 8:18

 In the same way, Joshua the high priest is a sign, pointing to the coming of the Messiah.  The amazing fact is the Messiah would have the same name.  Joshua was involved in laying the foundation of the 2nd Temple, Jesus (Joshua) the Messiah will bring in the Millennium Temple into existence (Ezekiel 40-43)

 I am bringing:  The LORD Himself, is bringing forth His select servant, the Branch.  Joshua and his companions, including Zerubbabel are types or pictures of the coming Messiah.  How do we know this refers to Messiah?  Branch clearly refers the descendent of King David, who will rule the earth in righteousness, characteristics only of the Messiah. (See below).

My Servant: The coming “Servant” Messiah will fulfill the sign of Joshua and Zerubbabel, being both High Priest and ruler overIsrael.

The term servant in Hebrew is db[ `ebed, meaning slave. The phrase my servant is used in reference to the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. (See also Isaiah 42:1-10)

 13 Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high. Isaiah 52:13

11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.  Isaiah 53:11

The Branch: Joshua the High Priest is a picture of the Branch, who will like Joshua be the High Priest (Zechariah 6:12).  The Hebrew, xmc Tsemach means sprout, growth, branch.  The Messiah will be a “Branch” from David’s line. He will be a descendent of David, a son of David (2 Samuel 7:12).

 1 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. 3 His delight is in the fear of the Lord, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;  Isaiah 11:1-3

 2 In that daythe Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious; And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing For those of Israel who have escaped. Isaiah 4:2

 5 "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. 6 In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.  Jeremiah 23:5-6

  (9)The stone…before Joshua:  Now we are presented with a picture in the vision, of a stone with seven eyes laid before Joshua.  Both Joshua and Zerrubbabel were involved in building the Temple, which would have required a foundation stone.  (Ezra 5:2)  The Temple project had stalled at this point, Zechariah in spiritual realms sees before Joshua a stone with seven eyes.  Here is another reference to the coming Messiah, though not as specific as the Branch.  Jesus referred to himself as the stone, which the builders rejected, quoting from Psalm 118 in Matthew 21:42.


21 I will praise You, For You have answered me, And have become my salvation. 22 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This was the Lord's doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.  Psalm 118:21-23

Jesus is referring to himself as the foundation stone, which the builders representing the Priesthood and leadership, who constructed the 2nd Temple represent. The leaders rejected Jesus as Messiah. Jesus therefore became the stone, which the builders, rejected, dying for the sins of the world.

 Seven eyes:  The number seven is the number of completeness in Hebrew, seven days in a week,  Seventy-sevens (Daniel 9:24).  Here is a stone with seven eyes, what do the eyes mean?  Scripture tells us the eyes represent the eyes of the Lord, which scan the whole earth. 


They are the eyes of the Lord, Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth."  Zechariah 4:10b

The reference to this stone is the capstone of the Temple, not yet completed but soon to be.

The other place in scripture we see seven-eyes is in Revelation 5, on the Lamb slain, who sits on the throne of God.

 6 And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Revelation 5:6

 I will remove the iniquity…in one day:  An amazing inscription appears on the stone with seven eyes, the declaration from God, that in one-day sin will be removed from the land.  Up until this point, sin was paid for with the death of animals, how then could sin be removed in one day?  The answer is, the Messiah, “My servant”, “the Branch”, would pay for the sins of the world according to Isaiah 53.

 10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. 11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.  Isaiah 53:10-11

 Peter refers to this living stone of Zechariah, who paid for the sins of the world.

 4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, I Peter 2;4

The Jewish nation rejected their King in A.D. 33, when the cornerstone was cast away by the builders, so they did not receive the benefits of the iniquity removed in one day.  At the Second Coming, when the nation finally understands the Messiah is Jesus, in that one day, the sins of the land will be forgiven, and Israel as a nation will be restored. (Zechariah 12:9-11)

 (10) In that day:  The days of Messiah, when the world will be at peace and the Messiah will govern the earth.  The 10th verse looks forward, beyond the days of Zechariah to the days when the Messiah, the Branch comes.  The world will be at peace; even the very nature of animals will be changed. (Isaiah 11:6)



[1] Jewish Study Bible, Tanach Translation , Oxford Press 2004, Pg. 1253