Scripture reading – Zechariah 1-4

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This is the second of two Bible studies for today.

Zechariah 3

 

A Vision of the Cleansing and Restoration of Jerusalem (Zechariah 3:1-2)

Zechariah 3 records the prophet’s fourth vision. Two individuals appeared before the LORD in Zechariah’s vision: “Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD [preincarnate appearance of Jesus Christ], and Satan standing at his [Joshua’s] right hand to resist him [Joshua]” (Zechariah 3:1). The high priest, being Israel’s representative before the LORD, was the symbol of the nation, while Satan, who was the fallen angel Lucifer, was (and is) the personification of pride, rebellion, and wickedness.

Reminiscent of Satan appearing before the LORD to accuse Job (Job 1), that wicked one was present to accuse Joshua, and to resist the LORD who promised to restore His people to Jerusalem (Zechariah 3:2). The LORD rebuked Satan, and declared He had “chosen Jerusalem,” and boasted, “Is not this a brand [Jerusalem] plucked out of the fire?” (Zechariah 3:2b). The LORD had employed the heathen to punish His people for their sins, and though Judah and Jerusalem had passed through the fire, God promised He would pluck them out (Zechariah 3:2b).

Joshua’s Appearance

Joshua’s Appearance (Zechariah 3:3-5)

This Joshua was not the servant to Moses, who led Israel to conquer the Promised Land, but was the high priest who served as the spiritual leader of the post-exilic Jews (Haggai 1:2, 12; Haggai 2:4). As high priest, Joshua’s “filthy garments” were most likely related to the “strange (foreign) wives” his sons had taken, and he had failed to rebuke them. (Ezra 10:18 personified Israel’s spiritual condition in captivity, Zechariah 3:3).  

Because the LORD is intolerant of anything that is not pure and holy, He commanded, “Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment” (Zechariah 3:4). Commanding a “fair mitre” (an unsoiled headdress) be placed upon Joshua’s head (Zechariah 3:5), his garments were changed, symbolic of God’s people repenting of their sins, being cleansed and restored to the LORD (Zechariah 3:4-5). Knowing Joshua served before the LORD as the representative of Israel, he was charged to obey the LORD and keep the charge of the courts of God’s Temple (Zechariah 3:6-7). 

Notice that three symbols of the Messiah were given: Priests (for the LORD is the believer’s High Priest, Zechariah 3:8a); the “BRANCH” (Zechariah 3:8b; Zechariah 6:12; Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5-6);  a Stone, with “seven eyes” (seven being the number of completeness, and speaking of the LORD’s omniscience, Zechariah 3:9).

Zechariah 3 concluded with a promise of universal peace and blessings. When Christ reigns, every man will call his fellow man his neighbor, and they will each rest “under the vine and under the fig tree” (Zechariah 3:10).

 

Zechariah 4

Zechariah’s fifth vision was recorded in chapter 4.

A Vision of a Golden Candlestick and Two Olive Trees (Zechariah 4:1-3)

The angel, whom I believe was Christ incarnate, came to Zechariah again and found him sleeping. Awakening the prophet, the angel asked, “What seest thou?” (Zechariah 4:2)

Zechariah observed and described “a candlestick all of gold [a golden lampstand; the menorah], with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes [funneling oil] to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: 3And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof [providing oil]” (Zechariah 4:2-3).

Having described the vision, Zechariah wondered at the meaning and asked, “What are these, my lord?” (Zechariah 4:4) Answering a question with a question, the angel asked Zechariah, “Knowest thou not what these be?” (Zechariah 4:5) The prophet was then made to understand the vision was a message that he was to convey to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah (Zechariah 4:6-14).

An Interpretation of the Symbols of the Vision

An Interpretation of the Symbols of the Vision (Zechariah 4:2-3, 14)

When it comes to symbols in the Bible, one must interpret scripture with scripture to understand both the meaning and application. I know the lampstand was indicative of the golden lampstand (menorah) in the Tabernacle and the Temple. (Remember that Christ said of Himself, “I am the light of the world,” John 8:12; 9:5).

The seven bowls of the lampstand were fed by seven pipes (Zechariah 4:2), through which oil passed from two live trees (Zechariah 4:3). I believe the two olive trees (Zechariah 4:3) were symbolic of the offices of the high priest (Joshua) and the political leader of Judah (Zerubbabel). Zechariah 4:14 seems to support that interpretation, for we read, “These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth” (Zechariah 4:14).

 

The Purpose of the Vision (Zechariah 4:6-11) 

Zerubbabel faced opposition from within and without as he set his heart on building the Temple. Should he lean upon his strength and resources, the construction of the Temple was doomed to fail. Facing a “mountain” of discouragement (Zechariah 4:6a), the message from the LORD to Zerubbabel was summed up in this: “This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6b).

The LORD assured Zerubbabel that a “great mountain [would] become a plain” before him (Zechariah 4:7a). With the LORD’s blessing, the foundation of the Temple would be laid, and “His hands shall also finish it” (Zechariah 4:9). After all, “the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth” were upon Zerubbabel (Zechariah 4:10).

 

Closing thought

Believer, apart from the LORD’s blessing, there is nothing we can do of lasting value when we face “mountains” of opposition. Yet, humbling ourselves before the LORD, we can trust He will not only bless but also strengthen us. Paul’s words in Philippians 4:13 have served as my life verse over the years and encouraged me in discouraging times.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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