1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with rich apparel.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments; and the angel of the LORD was standing by.
6 And the angel of the LORD enjoined Joshua, 7 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. 8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men of good omen: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. 9 For behold, upon the stone which I have set before Joshua, upon a single stone with seven facets, I will engrave its inscription, says the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the guilt of this land in a single day. 10 In that day, says the LORD of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor under his vine and under his fig tree.” Zech 3:1-10
The LORD showed Zechariah another vision, the fourth of eight visions occurring at night. This vision encourages Zechariah to understand the high priest Joshua’s position in the LORD. There is also a promise that the LORD’s servant, the Branch, will remove all sin in one day and the nation will dwell in peace. The primary emphasis is on Israel being restored, or cleansed, as a priestly nation to serve the LORD.
FYI: Joshua was a common name, meaning “the LORD saves”. Joshua is spelled Jeshua in Ezra 2:2 and Nehemiah 7:7. It is also the Greek translation of our English word Jesus.
Standing before the angel of the LORD, Joshua is in filthy garments which is an indication of spiritual uncleaness. The LORD gives Joshua clean garments. The LORD himself has taken his iniquity away and made Joshua to be clothed in richness.
The accuser of all the saints, Satan, [Rev 12:10] is rebuked by the LORD who declares that Joshua, is brought forward as pulled from a fire. That is, he is brought out of great affliction from Babylonian exile to serve a special purpose on behalf of the nation of Israel. Ezra 10:18 states that Joshua had sons that had taken wives that were not lawful, heathens and non-Israelites. Israel may not have been engaged in idolotry, but there was still uncleaness, especially in the priesthood.
Ministering before the Angel of the LORD, Joshua the high priest is being accused by Satan who is standing on his right side [Ps 109: 6] as if in a legal proceeding. Satan is not only the witness to sin, but his name means accuser or adversary.
The scene is reminiscent of Satan accusing Job before God [Job 1:6-12; Rev 12:10]. The LORD does not debate any “sin” in Joshua, but resoundingly rebukes Satan. And, not only once, but two times as if to emphasize the veracity of His rebuke. He rebukes Satan by the LORD, and as the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem.
The LORD offers a reason for not allowing any accusation, He has plucked “this man”, Joshua/Israel out of the fire of Babylonian exile for holy purposes (verses 8 and 9). He has chosen and redeemed, and that is the end of it!
The angels are commanded by the LORD to take off Joshua’s filthy clothes. Joshua stands as a type of saint who must be cleansed from all sin to be able to be clothed with the LORD’s righteousness. We all can become Kings and Priests of the most High God [Rev 1:6, 5:10]. In this way, Joshua and his fellow priests are men symbolic of things to come, as stated in verse 8.
The LORD states by taking away Joshua’s filthy clothes, he has taken away his sin. Not only removing sin, but the LORD then clothes Joshua in richness, or righteousness. A clean turban, a head covering of a priest, is next placed upon Joshua. He is cleansed and clothed in richness, ready to serve the LORD.
The LORD of Hosts gives an incredible promise to Joshua and his fellow priests: walking in the ways of the LORD will give Joshua and the priests rule in the temple courts and access to heaven itself. They would be working alongside the LORD’s angels to bring about His purposes for Israel. This must have encouraged Zechariah in his understanding that the LORD himself would be with Israel [believers: 2Tim 2:12]
Joshua and his “friends” or other priests are called men “symbolic of things to come”. In this way, in a future day, they will “see” the coming of the LORD’s servant, the Branch. In verses 8, 9 and 10, the priests are told of a single future day in which this servant will remove all sin from all of Israel. This servant is referred to as the Branch and a “stone with seven eyes”.
My servant, the Branch is a messianic title familiar to Zechariah, Joshua and all of Israel. Found in Isaiah 4:2; it is also related to “the shoots” of Isaiah 11:1 and 53:2 (out of the roots of Jesse; Jer 23:5 and Jer 33:15 a righteous Branch and King out of David, The LORD, our Righteousness). This messianic title is also found in Zechariah 6:12, where the Branch will rule as a priest on a throne.
FYI: The Branch has seven attributes.
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit ofcounsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. Is. 11:1 -2
In verse 9, this Branch is also described as single stone, probably another messianic title. Perhaps it a reference to the Branch being the chief cornerstone [Ps 118:22-23, Isa 8:13-15; 28:16 Dan 2:35, 45; Mt 21:42, Eph 2:19-22; 1 Pet 2:6-8].
The LORD will engrave an incription on that stone, reminiscient of cutting a covenant to remove the sin of this land. Infinitely omnisient, the seven eyes on that one stone bear testimony to the LORD who sees all.
In that day [the day of the LORD: Isa 2:11, 17, 20] a glorious day of celebration will cause each one in Israel to “sit under his vine and fig tree”. This pastoral picture is one of peace, security and contentment; the Branch has provided redemption. [2Ki 18:31; Mic 4:4]
Some say that this is in part to be fully realized at the LORD’s second coming [see Zech 12: 10-13:1] when He rules as Prophet, Priest and King. In Zech 12:10-13:1, we have a more complete view of what will happen “in that day” as they look upon the one whom they pierced and Grace is poured out upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
The high priest bore the names of Israel upon the stones in his breast plate.
In a single day: on the cross In verse 9 we see a future day in which all sin will be removed from the land… used as a metaphor for all of Israel.