Zechariah 3 | Cleansing from Sin

Zechariah 3 | Cleansing from Sin

1Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.

  • Joshua the High Priest represents the nation of Israel as they were led by these leaders
  • Standing before the Lord in a sense of examination, God is reviewing the state of Joshua/Israel and will decide how to proceed
  • Satan (the adversary) standing next to Joshua wanting to expose and accuse Joshua/Israel of their sin, just as he wanted to do the same for Job and will always do

2The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”

  • When reviewing the state of Joshua/Israel’s sin, his response is mercy, not judgment! This is how Satan is vastly different to God, there is not love or mercy in Satan
  • God is rebuking the accuser, rebuking the rebuker! Only God is judge and can truly rebuke, although some rebukes are in his name and with his authority
  • ‘Who has chosen Jerusalem’ – God is merciful towards his people because he chose them, they are his precious possession and he is zealous for his own. The mention of Jerusalem shows that Joshua here does represent the nation of Israel and is not just pictured for his own personal sin
  • ‘Burning stick snatched from the fire’ – Israel was facing the wrath of God and destined destruction on account of their sin. They were a fruitless vine destined to be burned with fire, as is all useless wood. But out of God’s mercy they have been snatched from the fire, picturing the hand of God reaching into the flames of his own wrath to save that which was already burning and dead.

3Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel.

  • The filthy clothes represent the sin of the people. That which was meant to be clean and orderly was dirty and out of order, and there is a sense of embarrassment and shame associated with their sin

4The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”

  • A beautiful picture of God re-dressing his people with clean clothes, removing their sin and cleansing them.
  • God will take away our sin as dirty clothes are removed from us and burned up in the fire, and we will be clothed in heavenly royal robes as we reign alongside Him
  • This makes us think of the ‘Putting off of sin’ and ‘Putting on of Christ’ as in Romans 13

5Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.

  • A clean turban represented a renewal of spiritual authority
  • Notice how Joshua was undressed and re-dressed by ‘those standing by’. It was not something he did himself, representing the fact that the removal of sin and clothing of righteousness is something we cannot do ourselves!

6The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua: 7“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.

  • A conditional charge to Joshua and Israel that if they obey God’s requirements they will have a place alongside God to rule and reign with him
  • ‘Among those standing here’ – could be the heavenly host, in that in the new Kingdom we will be joined with the heavenly host and will rule alongside God

8“ ‘Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. 9See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.

  • ‘Associates seated before you’ – the priesthood/Levites of Israel. These were men symbolic of things to come, in that the church will be a kingdom of priests.
  • The Branch – a picture of Christ, one who spreads out, produces fruit as does a tree, a vine as Jesus called himself to which other small branches are connected. The Messiah is the ‘branch of God’ on which his Kingdom will be built and grown and all things will sit
  • Stone, again picturing Christ. Cornerstone, capstone, stumbling stone. A stone with seven facets/eyes representing his perfection/perfect form, or his infinite and eternal qualities
  • An inscription – we do not know what the inscription would read, but as cornerstones or capstones would be engraved with an inscription to mark them as special or unique. The capstone/cornerstone would then define what the whole building was, based on its inscription. Jesus pictured in Revelation has words written on him
  • Remove the sin of this land in a single day – the cross where the sin of the world was dealt with in a single day

10“ ‘In that day each of you will invite your neighbor to sit under your vine and fig tree,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

  • In God’s kingdom there will be an abundance of love, peace and prosperity


The question may arise from chapter 2, “how can God dwell with a people that are so sinful”, to which the answer is “he is going to deal with their sin and wash them clean”. Out of his grace and mercy, God is going to wash clean his people, forgive their sin and restore them to their position with him.

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