Zechariah 3

DateVersionReading Plan
@December 15, 2023ESV (2016)ESV Prophets Plan 2023


  • A Vision of Joshua the High Priest


Zechariah’s fourth vision is of Joshua, the high priest, standing before the angel of the LORD and Satan standing next to him to accuse him. The LORD rebuked Satan and that He had rescued Joshua and the remnant by plucking them “from the fire” of judgment. Joshua was wearing “filthy garments”, representing his sinfulness and ritual impurity, which were to be removed and replaced with “pure vestments” (Zech. 3:4). The LORD assured Joshua that if he walked in His ways, he would rule His house and have charge of His courts. The men sitting before Joshua were a sign that God would bring His servant “the Branch”, a symbol of future fulfillment of the Messiah. In a single day, God will remove the iniquity of the land and everyone will invite his neighbor “to come under his vine and under his fig tree.” (Zech 3:10)

Again we see in this chapter God choosing Jerusalem (Zech. 3:2) and of His love for the faithful remnant in returning them Judah. Something specific to this chapter, however, is this dichotomy between clean and unclean. In the consecration of Joshua, it contrasts words like “filthy” and “iniquity” with “pure” and “clean”. In the old covenant era, the priests were required to ritually wash their hands and feet daily before performing sacrifices (Exod. 30:17-21) and, in Aaron’s day, special garments worn in the temple “lest they bear guilt and die” (Exox. 28:43). With the establishment of the new covenant, the sacrifice of Jesus and the tearing of the veil represented a supersession of temple activities. No longer were priests needed to atone for the sins of the people because Jesus came as the eternally sufficient propitiation for sin. Believers in Christ are now “a royal priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:9), cleansed internally by the blood of the Lamb and progressively purified by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

What a wonderful opportunity this chapter presents to process through these things; to see God’s heart and that we have been washed, sanctified and justified “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:11)

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