Joshua, the Accuser & the Branch
Joshua, the Accuser & the Branch
Responsive Reading: Isaiah 11
Hymn – 513
Text: Zechariah 3
Introduction: This 4th Vision is quite different from the previous three. In this vision, the prophet asks no questions and consequently, there are no explanations from the interpreting angel. However, a marvelous thing happens to the prophet and by extension the people of God and us. We are ushered into the inner court of the King.
I. The Vision
A. Immediately, we see the marvelous character of the vision. There is nothing hidden here. All is laid out, both ugly and beautiful. So, what does this tell us? There is the true reality and there is the lie. So much of this world gives a false and corrupt view of things. From the media, to the political machines to the educational and professional philosophies to the religious teachings comes the big lie. Never is the full and uncorrupted truth, the true reality, given to men.
B. From the beginning, men have had the true reality “because what be known of God is manifest in them;” but, they suppress that truth. Men suppress the truth. They take what is clearly seen and hide it. They change the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, birds, animals and crawling creatures. They worship the creature rather than the Creator. “Well, that is utter foolishness!” Let’s think about where such foolishness come from? They are spiritually helped, although in most cases, they do not know themselves to be spiritually helped. When I say spiritually helped, I mean the devil comes in with the lie like a flood, a deluge spewed from his mouth and the world swallows the lie, hook, line and sinker. Revelation 12.13-17
C. However, here in Zechariah 3, the Lord brings the prophet into the inner court of the Lord where nothing is hidden. He knows and sees all things. Men act and live as though God were like their wooden or stone idols – blind and ignorant. Nevertheless, Joshua stands before the Angel of the Lord.
II. The Characters
In the vision, there are three main characters: Joshua, the Angel of the Lord and Satan. I want to speak to you under the title: Joshua, the Accuser and the Branch. In order to develop the purpose of the vision, we will take each as they appear and by the names given.
A. The 1st character is the Lord. “Then he showed me…” I realize “he” is not capitalized to indicate the Lord. Therefore, the translators must not have believed the revealer to be the Lord, but the interpreting angel. Nevertheless, even if it is the “interpreting angel” then he is only privy to such a vision if given from the Lord. Ultimately, it is the Lord. Remember that even when the prophets speak to the people it is never their own words. It is always, “the word of the Lord.” So, the Lord shows Zechariah.
B. The 2nd character is Joshua the High Priest. He is a literal person, one of two leaders. He is the son of Jehozdak who along with Zerubbabel, the Governor lead Israel at this time. Though a literal person, he represents more than this. First, he represents the entire priesthood, who have been inactive in their occupation for the past 70 years during the Babylonian Captivity. They offered no sacrifices without the tabernacle. As priest, he also represents the people of God offering sacrifices for their sins. Finally, he represents the Lord Jesus, the coming High Priest who is after the order of Melchizedek and offers the one and final sacrifice of His own blood for the sins of His people.
- The 3rd character is the Angel of the Lord. This is Christ Jesus the Lord. This is the One that Joshua stands before. He is obviously the one with authority. There are some who say that this is not a standing in judgment. Whether this is so or not, there is judgment made.
- The final character is Satan. He is the Accuser. He comes with accusations and opposition against Joshua the High Priest.
III. The Plot
As the plot plays out in the vision the Lord reveals true realities.
A. 1st, the true reality of the stature of Joshua is filthy. The High Priest and by extension the people of God, stands before the Angel of the Lord in full array of filth and pollution. How do we know this? Because he is shown clothed with filthy garments. Garments in the Bible indicate either righteousness or sinfulness. You recall the angels arrayed in white. Christ Jesus on the mount of Transfiguration is white and shinning. These being filthy indicate sinfulness. The question is, How bad is it? There is no such thing as a good sinner. Every sinner is vile, filthy and humanly unredeemable. His passions are vile. His mind is debase. In the sight of God, even our righteousness is filthy. Isaiah 64.6, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…” The filthy garments speaks of the sin and iniquity of Joshua.
B. The 2nd true reality is Satan is the real enemy. What a wealth of information! To know that the real enemy behind your enemy, the opposition and the haters is Satan is the true reality. His main purpose in destroying and discrediting man is to dishonor God. The manner in which he does this is as the Accuser. He stands accusing Joshua. In Revelation 12.10, he is revealed as accusing the brethren before God day and night! He is relentless and ruthless, never giving up. He seeks to devour and destroy like a roaring lion. The troubling thing about his accusations about you and me is that they are absolutely true. Here again, there is nothing hidden here. We ought to be in hell at this very moment. Joshua stands there in filthy garments and what does Joshua say for himself? Nothing, what can he say, he is standing there with filthy garments. He cannot hide the garments, which reveals the 3rd true reality,
- Salvation is purely of grace. Joshua does not offer the usual excuses: “This isn’t my fault. You don’t understand the circumstances, Lord. They made me do it. You made me this way!” But look at what does happen! The presiding Judge, the Angel of the Lord, becomes the defense attorney. Some years ago while driving in Farmerville, I was pulled over for speeding. Believing that there was no possible way, I went to see the prosecutor. I was told that the Judge was gone for the day. I said, “I want to speak to the prosecutor.” “The prosecutor is the Judge.” It did not take me long to figure out the deck was stacked. Look at this! But, this is totally flipped! The Lord, the Judge comes down to defend the defendant, Joshua against the Accuser, Satan. “And the Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, Satan!” How good is that!
- Why would He do this? He gives us two reasons:
1. He chose Jerusalem. Notice, He did not say He chose Joshua. See how Joshua is representative of the people of God. What applies in the vision to Joshua applies to all of Jerusalem. “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect (choice)? It is God who justifies.” This is the apple of His eye, His sovereign choice. He would not allow accusation against him.
2. Also, “Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” God has only to do nothing and we would be doomed. But, He plucks us out of the fire. If He plucks you out of the fire, wouldn’t He finish the job? In Philippians 1.6, Paul says something with great force, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” That is, He who plucked you out of the fire will conform you to the image of His Son.
IV. The Branch
The Lord admonishes Joshua to walk in His ways. But notice verse 8. “Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, You and your companions who sit before you, for they are a wondrous sign.” This is a phenomenal statement and revelation. Joshua and the other priest are a sign. They stand for something to come. They are a wondrous sign. This does not mean that there is a beauty in them, but refers to what they signify. They are a type. This is where the whole vision gloriously reveals the great reality!
A. “For Behold…” The Lord reveals what He means by, “they are a wondrous sign.” Sign of what? “I am bringing forth My Servant.” The Lord brings forth His Servant. Here is One whom the Lord sends. Again, from Zechariah 2; “He sent Me…” The Lord sent the Lord. “Then you will know that the Lord has sent Me to you.” As a Servant He does the will of the Father. This comes up all throughout the life of Christ on this earth. “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me.” “No man can come unto Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And He who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.” The Lord sending the Lord, The Father sends the Son. He has the authority of the Father, being sent. He comes with the authority of the Father. This is who you are dealing with when you deal with Jesus. You deal with the Father.
B. The Lord gives His Servant a name, the Branch. The word Branch means a sprout. There are several things about this Branch. 1st, it denotes His obscurity. Where did this one come from? He was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, from a small group of people. This is the one the Lord brings? 2nd, it indicates the condescension. He came from glory and the throne to this ball of clay hanging in the midst of billions of galaxies? He comes to be what this man Joshua represented? 3rd, it indicates his growth. Luke 2.52. Philippians says, “He humbled Himself and became obedient.” Hebrews tells us “He was tempted in all points, yet without sin.”
C. Now, the Lord continues concerning His Servant, the Branch. “For behold the stone.” Although this stone is to some a stumbling stone and rock of offence; to those who trust in Him, He is a never-failing refuge! 1 Peter 2.6-8.
D. Notice, the description of the stone, it has seven eyes indicating the fullness of the God. He is the express image of God. He has the fullness of the Holy Spirit. This is the Branch now described as a stone. Isaiah 11.1-5. Also, the Lord engraves its inscription or more literal, “I will engrave the graving.” This indicates not necessarily a name, although, He has a name above every name, but the action taken upon the stone.
E. “And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.” Isaiah 53. Back to the vision: Here is Joshua standing in filthy garments before the Lord. What happens? Verse 4. Here, it is not just Joshua, but the entire land. That is everyone. The vastness and the quickness of it all is what is marvelous – in one day!
Conclusion: What are the results of all this? “In that day, says the Lord of hosts, ‘Everyone will invite his neighbor under his vine and under his fig tree.” Isaiah 11.6-9, 12-13. This is the beauty of what we do in fellowship.