‘Reflections’ on the Writing Prophets 44
Z e c h a r I a h
Zechariah 3:1 to 4:14
Zechariah is given vision of a dispute in heaven. It is like a courtroom scene in which opposing parties argue a legal case before a judge. Joshua, the High Priest who accompanied Zerubbabel on his return from Babylon, is on trial. He is clothed in “filthy garments”. His advocate,“the Angel of the LORD”. The prosecutor, and accuser, Satan (formerly also an angel with ambition above his station!). The Judge, the LORD God Almighty. The charge, against Joshua seems to be that his accuser thought him unworthy of the office of High Priest, representative of the ‘people of God’. Why? Along with the people of Judea, Joshua had already been condemned, by God, and exiled to Babylon for his part in the failure of the people to keep their covenant and practise idolatry. The evidence, for all to see, being his “filthy garments”. Satan was delighted at God’s judgment of Judea in exiling them to Babylon. God’s chosen thrown out of the Land. God’s plan for His people at an end. Game, set, and match, to Satan.
Now there is an important lesson for believers today in what follows. Jude in his short letter (Jude 1:9) has a report of another heavenly dispute. The subject is different, but the advocates and the Judge are the same. And this is the lesson. In both cases it is the LORD who rebukes Satan. Even the ‘chief of Angels’ does not confront Satan directly. If Michael the archangel, does not rebuke Satan directly, it seems unwise for me, a mere mortal to do so. And yet I have many times heard enthusiastic believers throw themselves into such a conflict with a loud “I rebuke you Satan”. Learn from Michael! I do not glorify Satan by reminding myself that he is a powerful enemy. Not to be tangled with, but dealt with by Almighty God (Revelation 20: 2 and 10).
And so it was that Satan was given the message. “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who chose Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not a brand plucked from the fire?” What Satan considered to be ‘game. set, and match’ was just a corrective measure by the LORD to bring His people back to Himself. “The brand plucked from the fire”. To make the point more graphically, the LORD continued “Take away the filthy garments from him”. Then addressing Joshua “See I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes”. And herein lies another lesson. Only the LORD our God has power to accomplish that. By the breath of His mouth He can make the vilest person clean. He did, and He does. But there is much more to be learned here. Immediately following this transformation, ‘the Angel of the LORD’ spoke again in admonishment of Joshua. It is a conditional message. “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”. It is very comforting to accept the blessing of God. Less comforting to even acknowledge that there might be some admonishing conditions attached to such blessing, let alone accept them. Friends, there are plenty of “IF’s” in the Scriptures. Too many of us have acquired the skill of myopically removing them from the text!!
Then, in a most enlightening way, for us living today, Zechariah joins Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Jeremiah, and the Psalmist (118) in being shown the advent of the Messiah of God. It is referred to as “a wondrous sign”, and so it is. “My servant, the BRANCH, the Stone”. All descriptors of Messiah Yeshua. We are blessed to be able to see that in history. Zechariah’s audience had faith alone as their assurance of God’s wondrous sign. And yet still future for us to receive by faith alone “And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. In that day says the LORD of hosts, everyone will invite his neighbour under his vine and under his fig tree”. Our God is a trustworthy, covenant keeping, God. And there is more. Zechariah is shown a golden seven branched lamp stand and two olive trees constantly feeding the lamps. That speaks of the temple which at that time had not been repaired. God had called both Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the people to get on with the task of mending of the walls and restoring the temple. They were quite discouraged and severely hampered in that work. How could they possibly get that done with such obstacles in their way? So the word the LORD gave Zechariah for Zerubbabel, the man chosen to lead the Judeans back to the land from Babylon. “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts”. It sounds rather too easy doesn’t it? But it was not. The obstacles and the challenges remained. But the will and determination of the people doing the work was uplifted by the knowledge that they were about the LORD’s business. How do we know that? Because the word of the LORD to Zechariah said so, and he passed that word faithfully to the people. “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of the temple, his hands shall also finish it. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you”.
Then Zecharaiah wondered about the two mysterious olive trees which continuously fed the lamps of the golden lamp stand. The LORD told him they represented the two “anointed ones, who stand beside the LORD of the whole earth”. Well, the two most prominent people there at the time were Zerubbabel, who led the people back from Babylon, and Joshua, the High Priest who stood in the court with this ‘filthy garments’ at the beginning of our text. Commentators point out that Zerubbabel was a direct descendant of David, and Joshua, the High Priest, was a direct descendant of Eleazar, who succeeded his father Aaron as High Priest when he died.
Now isn’t that an interesting point at which to end our ‘reflection’ this week?