The vision of the surveyor gave assurances of the reestablishing of the Jewish nation. , the promise is terminated in Christ. The vision of Joshua the high priest assures the Israelites that they shall be put into a good position again, and the promise of this also points to Christ, who is not only our Lord, but the high priest of our profession, of whom Joshua was a type.
The angel that talked with Zechariah showed him Joshua the high priest. It is possible Zechariah saw Joshua many times, spoke to him, and that there was a close friendship between Zechariah and Joshua, but Zechariah only saw how Joshua appeared before men. If Zechariah is to know how Joshua stands before the Lord, it must be shown him in a vision.
In this vision Satan is standing at Joshua’s right hand as the prosecutor, or witness stands at the
right hand of the prisoner. Joshua is accused by Satan of being an unfaithful servant. There are
those who believe Satan has brought the charge of unfaithfulness against Joshua because the priests under his authority were marrying foreign women (Ezra 9:1, 2; Nehemiah 3:28). When God is about to reestablish the priesthood Satan brings a charge against the high priest that would render him unworthy of the honor bestowed upon him.
It is by our own foolishness that we give Satan advantage against us and furnish him with matters
for reproach and accusation. If any fault is found in us Satan will use it against us in the complaints he files against us. In this vision Satan stood before the Lord with Joshua to oppose the service Joshua was doing for the public good. He stood at Joshua’s right hand, the hand of action, to discourage Joshua and place obstacles in his way.
When we are fulfilling our call to serve the Lord we must expect to meet with all the resistance that Satan’s subtlety and malice can give us. We must resist him that resists us in the performance of our duty and he will flee from us. We must never let the obstacles placed in our paths discourage us or turn us away from the course the Lord has set for us.
In verse two a victorious defense is made for Joshua. “The Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke
you, Satan!’ Indeed the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?’”
Satan is silenced by the One who has authority over him. His indictment is quashed, and his charge against Joshua is shown to be malicious and frivolous. Those that belong to Christ have Him ready to vigorously defend them when Satan viciously attacks them. He does not plea bargain with Satan but shuts his mouth immediately with this sharp reprimand, “The Lord rebuke
you, Satan.” This is the best way to deal with a furious enemy. The Lord lets Satan know his charge against Joshua will be fruitless; it will serve no purpose to attempt any thing against Jerusalem or His chosen high priest. He has chosen Jerusalem to be His dwelling place and Joshua to be the head servant in His house and He will abide by his choice.
The Lord said, Joshua is a “brand plucked from the fire.” He has been wonderfully delivered out of the fire of captivity, that God might be glorified in him, and He will not cast him off or abandon him. A converted soul is a brand plucked out of the fire by a miracle of free grace. He shall be left to be a prey to Satan.
Joshua appears before the Lord as one polluted. He was clothed in garments that were not fitting of his office and the sanctity of his work. By the law of Moses the garments of the high priest were to be “for glory and for beauty” (Exodus 28:2). But Joshua’s garments were a shame and reproach to him. He had no clean linen wherein to minister and to do the duty of his office. This conveys the idea that the priesthood was not only poor, despised, and loaded with contempt, but that there was a great deal of iniquity cleaving to the holy things. Because they had turned from idolatry they thought they were no longer chargeable with iniquity. But God showed them there were many things wrong in them, which
hindered the bestowing of the Lord’s favor towards them. Their sins were spiritual enemies warring against them and more dangerous than any of the neighboring nations.
Joshua had sons who married foreign women ( Ezra 10:18). Yet Joshua was permitted to stand before the angel of the Lord. Though his children did not do as they should, yet the covenant of priesthood was not broken.
Christ bears with his people, whose hearts are right with Him, and admits them into communion with Himself, notwithstanding their many infirmities. Provision was made for the cleansing of Joshua. Christ gave orders to the angels that attended Him, and were ready to do His pleasure, to put Joshua into a better state. Joshua presented himself before the Lord in his filthy garments and Christ graciously looked upon him with compassion, and not as He might have justly done. Christ loathed the filthiness of Joshua’s garments, yet did not put him away, but put them away. This is
what the Lord by His grace does with those whom He chooses to be priests to Himself; He parts between them and their sins, and so prevents their sins parting between them and their Lord. He reconciles Himself to the sinner, but not to the sin.
Two things are done for Joshua, representing a double work of divine grace wrought in and for believers. His filthy garments are taken from him. His guilt is taken away by pardoning mercy, the stench and stain of it by peace spoken to the conscience, and the power of it broken by renewing grace. When the Lord forgives our sins He causes our iniquity to pass from us, that it may not appear against us, to condemn us; it passes from us as far as the east is from the west. When He
sanctifies the nature He enables us to put off the old man. He cast away from us the filthy rags of our corrupt affections and lusts, as things we will never have any thing more to do with or appear in us. Christ washes away our sins in His own blood.
Joshua is cleansed from the pollution of sin. He is
clothed in clean garments. He has not only the shame of his filthiness removed, but the shame of his nakedness covered. Joshua had no clean linen of his own, but Christ provided for him clean garments, because He will not let a priesthood of his own instituting be lost, contemptible before men or unacceptable before God. The change of raiment is rich costly raiment, such as is worn on high days. Joshua shall appear as lovely as he appeared loathsome.
Those that minister in holy things shall not only cease to do evil, but learn to do well. The Lord
will make them wise, and humble, diligent, and faithful, and examples of every thing that is good.
Those whom Christ makes spiritual priests are clothed with the spotless robe of His righteousness and appear before God in them, and with the graces of His Spirit, which are ornaments to them. The righteousness of the saints, both imputed and implanted, is the fine linen, clean and white, with which the bride of the Lamb’s wife, is arrayed (Revelation 19:8).
Joshua is reinstalled and established in his office. He not only has his sins pardoned, and is furnished with grace sufficient for himself, but acquitted in the Lord’s court. He is restored to his former honors and trusts. The crown of the priesthood is put upon him. Now that he looks clean, let him also look great; let him be dressed up in all the garments of the high priest.
When the Lord plans the restoring or reviving of religion He stirs up his prophets and people to
pray for it, and does it in answer to their prayers. Zechariah prayed that the angels might be ordered to set the turban on Joshua’s head, and they did it immediately, and clothed Joshua with the priestly garments while the angel of the Lord stood by overseeing the work of the angels. He stood by, as one well pleased with what has been done, and resolved to stand by the orders He had given for the doing of it and to continue His presence with the priesthood.
The angel of the Lord “admonished Joshua saying, if you will walk in My ways and if you will perform My service, then you will also govern My house and also have charge of My courts, and I will grant you free access, among those who are standing near.”
The angel of the Lord told Joshua if he would do the duty of his office, he would enjoy the dignity and reward of the office. The Lord of hosts put Joshua on notice. He must live a good life and be holy in all manner of conversation; he must go before the people in the paths of God’s commandments, and walk circumspectly. He must keep the Lord’s charge to carefully do all the services of the priesthood. He must see to it that the inferior priests perform their duties.
Good ministers must be good Christians; yet that is not enough: they have a trust committed to them, and they must keep it with all possible care. What the privileges Joshua may expect, and be assured of, in the faithful discharging of his office. The power of the church, and of church rulers, is not legislative, but judicial. The high priest is not permitted to make any new laws for the Lord’s house, nor ordain any other rites of worship than what God had ordained. He must see to it that the Lord’s laws and ordinances are observed. He must protect and encourage those that
observe them, and enquire into and punish the violation of them.
These angels are inspectors and assistants. They shall stand by while Joshua is at work for the Lord, and shall be as a guard to him. Those that walk in the Lord’s way may be said to walk among the angels because they do the will of the Lord as the angels do it that are in heaven and are their fellow-servants (Revelation 19:10).
What the Lord has done for Joshua and his fellow priests was a foreshadow of the coming of the
promised Messiah. The high priest and his fellow priests, as the prophet and his children (Isaiah
8:18), are for signs and for wonders will cease when the Messiah comes. The promise itself, is meant for the comfort and encouragement of Joshua and his friends in the work of building the temple, which they were now engaged in. The promise relating to the coming of the Messiah and His kingdom would be an encouragement in the difficulties they will encounter in the building temple and their other services.
The Messiah is God’s servant, employed in His work, obedient to His will, and entirely devoted to His honor and glory. He is the branch of the Lord (Isaiah 11:1). A branch out of the roots of Jesse (Jeremiah 23:5). A righteous branch (Jeremiah 23:15. His beginning will be as a tender branch, but in time he should become a great tree and fill the earth (Isaiah 53:2). He is the branch from which all our fruit must be gathered.
He is the stone laid before Joshua. This is a reference to the foundation or chief corner-stone, of
the temple, which probably was laid, with great solemnity, in the presence of Joshua. Christ is not
only the branch, which is the beginning of a tree, but the foundation, which is the beginning of a building; and, when he shall be brought forth, seven eyes shall be upon Him. The eye of the Father, to take care of Him, and protect him, especially in his sufferings; when he was buried in the grave. The eyes of heaven will be on Him when He will be buried out of men’s sight, but not out of the Lord’s. The eyes of all the prophets and Old Testament saints were upon this one
stone, Abraham rejoiced to see Christ’s day, and he saw it and was glad. The eyes of all believers are upon him. They look to him and are saved, as the eyes of the stung Israelites were upon the brazen serpent.
There are scholars who believe this stone that is to have seven eyes in it as the wheels had in Ezekiel’s vision denotes the perfection of wisdom and knowledge which Jesus Christ was endued with, for the good of His church. God Himself will beautify him, and put honor upon him. This stone the builders refused, as rough and unsightly God smoothes, polishes and forms that it shall be the head stone of the corner, the
most beautiful in all the building. Christ was God’s workmanship and the abundance of his wisdom appears in our redemption, which will appear when the engraving is perfected.
This stone is a precious stone, though used for a foundation. The engraving of it seems to refer to
the precious stones in the breast-plate of the high priest, which had the names of the tribes engraved upon them (Exodus 28:21-22). In that breast-plate there were twelve stones laid before Aaron, but there shall be one worth them all laid before Joshua, and that is Christ himself. This precious stone shall sparkle as if it had seven eyes; there shall appear a perfection of wisdom and prudence in the oracles that proceed from the breast-plate of judgment. And God will entrust Christ with all His elect, and He shall appear as their representative, and agent for them, as the high priest did when he went in before the Lord with the names of all Israel engraved in the precious stones of his breast-plate. By Him sin shall be taken away, both the guilt and the dominion of it. When the high priest had the names of Israel engraved on the precious stones he was adorned with he is said to bear the iniquity of the holy things (Exodus 28:38). He bore the iniquity of the land, as a type of Christ;
but he could not remove it; the doing of that was reserved for Christ, that blessed Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world and He did it in one day, that day when He suffered and died. It was done by the sacrifice offered that day which could not be done by the sacrifices of ages before by all the days of atonement which from Moses to Christ returned every year.
There are other scholars who believe the engravings wherewith God engraved him to signify the wounds and stripes which were given to His blessed body, which He underwent for our transgression, for iniquity, by which we are healed. The effect of all this shall be the sweet enjoyment which all believers shall have of themselves, and the sweet communion they shall have with one another.
When iniquity is taken away, we reap precious benefits and privileges from our justification, more precious than the products of the vine or the fig-tree (Romans 5:1). We rest in a sweet tranquillity and are quiet from the fear of evil. What should terrify us when iniquity is taken away, when nothing can hurt us? We sit down under Christ’s shadow with delight, and by it are sheltered from the scorching heat of the curse of the law. We live as Israel in the peaceable reign of Solomon (1 King 4:24-25) for he is the prince of peace. We ought to invite others to come to partake with us in the enjoyment of these privileges, to come and sit with us for mutual conversation under the
vine and fig-tree, and to share with them the fruits The Lord has surrounded us with.
Gospel-grace, as far as it comes with power, makes men neighborly; and those that have the comfort of acquaintance with Christ themselves, and communion with God through him are to call others to come to the Lord.