Paul Kattupalli, MD
The Book of Zechariah has many wonderful promises concerning the Messiah, our Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ. In chapter 3:1, we read:
“And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. 2. And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? 3. Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and stood before the angel. 4. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, 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.5. And I said, let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So, they set a fair mitre upon his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by.”
Before we go further, let me give you the historical context of this passage of scripture. Prophet Zechariah wrote this book in the year 520 before Christ. The Israelites were in Babylon for 70 years as captives. In the year 538 BC, Cyrus the Great, the Persian Emperor gave a decree that all Jews could return to their homeland. The Jews returned to their homeland in 3 groups and Zechariah was in the first group. Many Jews were comfortable in Babylon but they realized that they must return to their homeland because that is where God’s clock ticks again. The times of Gentiles now started. But God still has a plan for his people. When they came to Jerusalem, they were disappointed. Their resources were scant, their leadership was weak, their enemies were strong During those years God sent a prophet to encourage his people.
Angel of the Lord
His name was Zechariah. In the book of Zechariah, we see 8 visions God gave to Zechariah. Here in chapter 3, we see one of those visions. There are three individuals in this vision: the Angel of the Lord, Joshua the High Priest, and Satan. First, there is the Angel of the Lord. Who is this angel of the Lord? He is Jesus Christ our Lord! You might ask, are you serious? How could Jesus appear in a vision five hundred years before His birth in Bethlehem? True, Jesus was born in Bethlehem as a human baby, but as God, He had been appearing to mankind in various forms even before His incarnation. As God, there is no beginning and end to Christ. He is the first and the last. He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. The appearances of Christ in the Old Testament is called Christophanies. For example, we see the angel of the Lord appearing to Hagar in Genesis chapter 16. Hagar is fleeing her master Abraham and she was in so much distress. The angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar and encouraged her. The angel of the Lord is Jesus Christ Himself. The Arabs in the Middle East came from Hagar. You know in the Middle Eastern countries today, evangelism is severely restricted. But many Muslims are coming to Christ through dreams and visions. They are seeing Jesus in their dreams and becoming Christians. These are Christophanies of our time. Lord Jesus who appeared to Hagar four thousand years ago, now appearing to her children in the Middle East. This is especially true where the gospel is severely restricted. There are many Christophanies in the Bible. In Genesis chapter 22, when Abraham raised his sword to sacrifice his son Isaac, who stopped him? The angel of the Lord, that is Jesus. In Genesis chapter 32, who is that man who wrestled with Jacob until the breaking of the day? That is Jesus. In Exodus chapter 3, who is that angel of the Lord who appeared to Moses in a flame of fire in a burning bush? That is Jesus. In Exodus chapter 14, when Israelites were walking through the wilderness, who is the angel of God who went before the camp of Israel? That is Jesus. Who is the Stone that gave them a constant stream of water which quenched their thirst? That is Jesus. In Numbers 22, when Balaam was on his way to curse the people of Israel, who is the angel of the Lord who stood in his way and rebuked him? That is Jesus. In Joshua chapter 5, who is the captain of the host of the Lord who stood before Joshua with his sword drawn in his hand? That is Jesus. In Isaiah chapter 6, who is the Lord of hosts that appeared to Isaiah in the vision? That is Jesus. ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts’ Who is that Lord the angels are worshiping? That is Jesus. In Daniel chapter 3, we read about Nebuchadnezzar throwing three Hebrew young men into the burning furnace. But the young men did not burn to their death. They walked in the midst of the fire with a fourth man who is like the Son of God. Who is this Son of God? That is Jesus. Here in Zechariah chapter 3, we see the angel of the Lord defending Joshua the high priest. Who is this angel of the Lord? That is Jesus.
Joshua the Priest
Who is this Joshua the priest? This Joshua is not the Joshua we read about in the book of Joshua. He is the high priest representing the people of Israel after their restoration. Joshua is wearing filthy garments. We also see Satan standing before the Angel of the Lord. Satan is resisting Joshua. He is complaining to God, ‘How can you let this man into your presence? Don’t you see his filthy garments?’ Why is Satan casting aspersions on the High Priest of Israel? Because Satan wants to separate Israel from God. Satan knew that Messiah would come from the Jews. His intention was to block the coming of the Messiah by separating Israel from God. But that’s not going to happen. God rebuked Satan. ‘O Satan, even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?’ Please note those words: the Lord who hath chosen Jerusalem. It’s not Abraham, It’s not Moses nor David. God himself has chosen Jerusalem. George Washington chose the capital of the United States, but God chose the capital of Israel. When you want to know ‘What in the world is President of the United States doing? you would look at Washington DC and the White House. But when you want to know, ‘What in the world is God doing?’ You would look at Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. That is the place God chose as His headquarters for all his earthly activities. That is where the plan of redemption has been unfolding. Read Luke 19, there you see Jesus weeping for Jerusalem. You weep only for the things you love. God cried for Jerusalem, that is how much He loved it. The angel of the Lord is defending Joshua the high priest. The Babylonian Captivity took a toll on him. he is weak, he is filthy he is fatigued, he exhausted and incapacitated. Joshua is a high priest, yet he is frail and feeble. He cannot stand before Satan. Who can support him before Satan? Who can guard him against Satan? Who can protect him from Satan? Who can preserve him from the Satan? He needs a defender He needs an advocate. But Glory to God. There is Lord Jesus defending Joshua. That is the good news for all of us. Jesus is our high priest and advocate.
Hebrews 7: 24
“but this Man, because He continueth forever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 25. Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost those who come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. 26. For such a High Priest who is befitting for us, holy, undisposed to harm, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens, 27. who needeth not, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice daily first for His own sins and then for the people’s; for this He did once when He offered up Himself.”
Jesus became our High Priest after sacrificing Himself for our sins. Let us go back to Zechariah 3:4 Then the angel of Lord gave a commandment. Take away the filthy garments from Joshua. The filthy garments represent the sins of Israel, its apostasy, idolatry, and disobedience. -God wants to redeem Israel, but first it must remove its filthy garments. In John chapter 11, we see Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. He went to the graveyard and shouted, Lazarus, come out’ ‘Lazarus, come out’: How sweet must be those powerful and precious words of Jesus when they touched the ears of Lazarus as he was quickened out of death. Nothing is more precious than the moment Jesus calls you with your name. Lazarus came out of the tomb in his grave clothes. Jesus said, loose him and let him go. Take away those grave clothes. We read in Ephesians chapter 2, ‘we were dead in our sins and trespasses’. Jesus raised us unto life. Then we should remove our grave clothes. We should remove the filthy garments. See what filthy garments you are still wearing today: Lies? Lust? Stealing? Pornography? Sexual immorality? Jealousy? Covetousness? Cheating your spouse? Drug addiction? Alcohol addiction? Filthy mouth? Whatever filthy garment you are wearing, remove it for the glory of God. Whatever grave clothes you are still wearing, let the Holy Spirit remove it and clean you. Pray and fast, and whatever it takes, let the Father remove your dirty clothes. In Luke chapter 15, we read about the prodigal son who took his inheritance from his father, went to a far country and spent all his money on licentiousness and sexual profligacy. After he spent all his money, he was trying to feed himself with swine husks. Nothing would be more deplorable for a Jewish boy than picking his food from the swine. Then he came to his sense, he repented and went to his Father’s house. His father ran and fell on his neck and kissed him, said, quick, put the best robe on my son. In Greek, ‘Tachy exenenkate stolen ten proten’ Tachy means quickly proten means the best: Quickly the best. When you come to your father’s house, put away your filthy garments, and quickly put the best clothes God wants to give. God wants to give you his best clothes. Let us go back to Zechariah chapter 3, verse 4. God said, Joshua, ‘you are forgiven, I will put a new turban on your head, I will put new priestly clothes on you’. You see, first, we need forgiveness of our sins. We read in 1 John 1:7 The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
The blood of Jesus cleansed us from all sin. Recently I was watching a documentary on Einstein. Einstein had a friend named Fritz Haber. Haber was a great chemist, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1918 for his invention of the Haber-Bosch process. It was a great invention, half of the world depends on this method to produce nitrogen fertilizers for their food production.Haber became a celebrity in Germany and around the world. The Nazis were drawn to Haber’s genius. They went to his home and asked him, ‘Mr.Haber, you are a great scientist, use your intellect in the service of the Fuhrer, now do us a favor, build chemical weapons for us’ Fritz Haber accepted their offer. He started to work on manufacturing deadly chlorine and poisonous gases. He supervised the use of chemical weapons on people during the Second Battle of Ypres. He watched people wrenching in pain, convulsing, foam gushing from their mouth, and dying in excruciating pain as a result of the chemical weapons he developed. Nazis gave him a lot of praise and accolades. Fritz Haber was Jewish. Soon, the Nazis would use the chemical weapons he developed on his own family members in the gas chambers they built in the concentration camps. Haber’s wife Clara could not take this anymore. She looked at him as an angel of death. The guilt was so unbearable that one fine evening Clara committed suicide. One evening many scientists gathered to honor Fritz Haber. Albert Einstein also attended the meeting. Einstein looks at Haber and says, ‘Did you invent a new way to destroy human life?’ Haber: ‘Yes, but that was not my only invention. I’m being honored tonight for the good, I’ve done’ Einstein: ‘Life cannot be balanced like an equation, Fritz. Good deeds do not erase the evil ones’ Haber: ‘I certainly pray to God you’re wrong for once, Albert’. Many people think like Fritz Haber. They look at life like an equation in which good can cancel out evil. Remember the words of Prophet Isaiah: our righteousness is like filthy rags in the sight of God. God took away the filthy garments of Joshua the High Priest and gave him garments of righteousness.
After forgiving Joshua and putting new clothes on him, God gave him some precious promises about the coming Messiah. The first promise is the Messiah, the Branch. Please see, Chapter 3: verse 8 ‘Behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch’The Messiah is our branch. Jesus is our branch. Most of us have plant blindness, we cannot even name the trees around our homes. But trees and plants are essential to our survival. They take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, which sustains our life on this planet. Jesus takes in our sin and breathes his life into us. Have you heard about resurrection plants? The resurrection plants live in deserts, and they survive extreme dehydration, even over months or years. Jesus is our resurrection plant, ‘a tender plant that sprouted out of dry ground’ Isaiah 53:2 The trees are our food, Jesus is our bread of life. The trees give us fruits, Jesus gives us fruits of life The trees give us shelter. Jesus is our refuge, the trees give us delight Jesus is the joy of our life.The trees bring beauty Jesus is our magnificent Savior The trees give us rest Jesus is our rest and peace. 2.The Messiah is also called Servant. My servant, the Branch. Jesus was the perfect servant of God who ever lived. We read in Philippians 2 ‘Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the a form of a servant’Even though he is God,Jesus took the form of a servant to save you and me from sin, death and hell. He is the Servant who delighted the heart of God. We read in Isaiah 42:1 ‘Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth’ In Isaiah 53:11 ‘by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities’ This righteous servant will justify us with his wisdom, he shall bear our sins.
Then we see the Messiah as our Rock. Zechariah 3:9 ‘For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts’ Who is this Stone that God laid before Joshua. That is Messiah.That is Jesus. He is called rock in many Bible passages. In Psalm 118:22, He is called the Stone that builders refused in verse 23, He is called the CornerStone. In Isaiah 8:13-15, He is called a stone of stumbling, a rock of offense In Daniel 2:35,45, He is called a stone that became a great mountain that filled the whole earth. In Ephesians 2:19-22, He is called the Foundation of the Apostles and prophets, ‘Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone’ In Isaiah 28:16 we read, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste` Please note those words: He that believeth shall not make haste. If you trust this rock, you will not be disappointed. God told Joshua, Behold the stone. When you anxious, look at the stone When you are distressed look at the stone Whey you are confused look at the stone When you are depressed look at the stone. Behold the stone. Look at the Messiah,the Rock God has laid before you. One of my mentors was Pastor Curtis Hutson. I remember the time he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The doctors gave him a very bad prognosis. I remember him going to the church he pastored for many years and singing a song. He was so weak that he was carried in a wheelchair. As he started to sing the hymn, there was not one dry eye in the church. He sang Edward Mote’s hymn, ‘My Hope is Built on Nothing Less’ 1. My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand All other ground is sinking sand. You don’t trust your finances, that’s sinking sand You don’t trust your health, that’s sinking sand You don’t trust your society, that’s sinking sand You don’t trust your culture, that’s sinking sand You stand on Christ, the solid Rock. Verse 9 also teaches us that this stone has seven eyes. In the Bible, Seven is a number of perfection. This Stone has complete perception.
Our Shepherd and Bridge
He is watching you day and night. Your life is an open book before him. He sees everything. His constant watch on our lives should give us the courage that He is our Shepherd who maintains his watchful eye over us. It should also make us introspect our behavior, to search our lives whether we have any unconfessed sin in our life. This stone is also carved by God.Zechariah 3:9 ‘I will engrave the graving thereof’ (v.9) You can trust this rock because it is carved by God. You can trust the Messiah because He is shaped by God. You can trust Jesus because he is sent by God himself. Recently, in China, they built a glass-bottomed bridge. It is located in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province.It’s 430 meters long and 300 meters above the ground. Imagine that, a bridge 300 meters above the ground. It’s a glass-bottomed bridge. After the construction, they opened it to the public. But people were not convinced of its strength. So, the engineers organized a series of events to prove the resilience of this bridge. They called people to come with sledgehammers, ‘hit the glass floor with your sledgehammers Jump over it Dance over it Drive your car over it Run over it’ People took sledgehammers and went over the bridge. They hit the glass bottom and tested its strength. They said, now we are convinced that this bridge has the strength to sustain us across the valley’ Christ is the bridge God built across the valley of death and sin. To those who are skeptical, God says, I carved this rock come and test its strength I built this bridge come and test its resilience come and test this bridge He was tested by the sledgehammers of Satan and sin. Satan, Demons Jews Gentiles Sin, death, and hell they all hit this rock. and their attacks only proved its strength. Their shellings only proved its power They assault only proved its toughness. He is the Rock, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee; Let the water and the blood, From Thy wounded side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, Save from wrath and make me pure. God told Joshua, Behold the Stone, Christ our Rock Let me close with verse 10: ‘In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbor under the vine and under the fig-tree’ Zechariah 3:10 Everyone will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and fig tree. This image speaks of future Millennial peace Israel will enjoy under it’s true Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ.
George Washington used this image in his speeches. On August 17, 1790 George Washington gave an address to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport, Rhode Island. He said, “May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the goodwill of the other Inhabitants, while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig-tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid’. George Washington was wishing peace and security to Jewish immigrants who arrived in America.His words, ‘everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree’were borrowed from from Zechariah chapter 3.Israel has no peace in our time. When the Messiah will return, during his Millennial reign, Israel will enjoy its true peace and security. That peace will extend to the entire world. The whole world will have peace because it will be under the authority of the Prince of Peace. After the rapture, there will be great tribulation. After the great tribulation Christ will return to this world and establish His millennial reign. During His reign, there will be peace, security, joy, and prosperity in this world. God will remove the iniquity of the land of Israel before the Millennium. Please note that order.The question of sin must be dealt with before God can intervene on our behalf. The problem of sin must be settled before God can have fellowship with us. That is the same prescription for Israel, and that is the same prescription for you and me. Our sins must be cleaned in the blood of the Messiah before we can have peace with God. So we have seen Christ in all His splendor. He is the incarnation of God, who created our universe. He is our Messiah. In Zechariah chapter 3, we saw a vision God gave to Prophet Zechariah. Joshua the high priest went into the presence of God with filthy garments. Satan was accusing him. But God came to his defense. That is what Jesus did for us. He is our High Priest, representing us He is our Servant, ministering to us He is our Branch, giving us life and sustenance He is our Stone, giving us hope and security. He is our Peace, offering us reconciliation and fellowship with God.