Christ in Zechariah's Prophecy, Part 2
John Griffiths, Port Talbot, Wales [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
(III) THE ADVENT OF THE LORD, ‘Behold, I will bring forth’, 3. 8, 9.
(i) ‘My servant the Branch’, v. 8.
Isaiah writes of Christ and His servant character. His first song begins, ‘Behold, my servant’, 42. 1. The word used for ‘servant’ is bond slave. Jesus Christ is only a bond slave relative to God. He is never called a bond slave in relation to man.
Isaiah writes of Israel’s recovery and restoration, 49. 6, ‘It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth’. The task of the servant is to restore Israel and to bless the Gentile nations. This is to be achieved by the sacrificial death of the Servant at Calvary as depicted in the fourth and final servant-song of Isaiah 52/53. This again begins, ‘Behold my servant’.
The branch is more accurately the shoot or sprout. The stock, representing the nation, appears to be dead, until a little green shoot sprouts from it, the Branch! This is a messianic title of Christ, 6. 12.
Four Old Testament references to the Branch dovetail beautifully with the aspects of Christ portrayed in the gospel narratives:
- ‘I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King’, Jer. 23. 5, 6 – Matthew’s Gospel;
- ‘I will bring forth my servant the Branch’, Zech. 3. 8 – Mark’s Gospel;
- ‘Behold the man whose name is the Branch’, Zech. 6. 12 – Luke’s Gospel;
- ‘The branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious’, Isa. 4. 2 – John’s Gospel.
Christ is truly the root and offspring of David, Rev. 22. 16. He is both David’s Lord and David’s Son, Matt. 22. 45.
(ii) ‘Behold the stone’, v. 9.
There are three references to Christ as the Stone in Zechariah: here, a building stone, the headstone, 4. 7, and the cornerstone, 10. 4. The title ‘the Stone’ is common to Old and New Testaments.1
This ‘one unique stone’ has seven eyes.2 In relation to the coming kingdom and reign of Christ, Isaiah refers to Christ’s name as ‘Counsellor’, the One who advises, deliberates and counsels. Such will be His role in the golden years of the millennium. Nobody counsels God, Rom. 11. 34, though Isaiah speaks of the Holy Spirit resting upon Messiah as the future Governor among the nations. The Spirit is described as the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord, 11. 2. As supreme world emperor, Christ will have all these qualities to assist Him in His onerous task.
Verse 9 not only speaks of one, unique, singular stone but also refers to ‘one day’ when the iniquity of the land will be removed. Doubtless this is Israel’s Day of Atonement. Although included with the feasts of Leviticus 23, this is the only feast that God has asked Israel to observe, 12. 10 – 13. 1.
(IV) THE ANOINTED OF THE LORD, 4. 14.
The golden lampstand speaks of testimony. Israel will be God’s lampstand in the millennium and testimony will be sustained by the golden oil of the Holy Spirit.
‘What are these?’ enquires Zechariah of the interpreting angel, 4. 4. He is rebuffed by the angel who appears to feel that he ought to know! After all, he was a priest. ‘These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth’, v. 14. Anointing belonged to the king, the priest and, in one case, a prophet. The picture represents the two men holding office as anointed ones, Joshua the high priest, and Zerubbabel the prince and governor. They shared the religious and civil offices.
The use of the olive tree emphasizes that the offices will be held by Jews. Israel is likened to a ‘green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit’ by Jeremiah. Hence, the olive trees remind us of the two men who are leaders of the nation in Zechariah’s day, namely Joshua and Zerubbabel. Prophetically, they relate to the two offices of priest and king vested in the greatest Jew of them all, the Messiah, the Anointed One.
During the great tribulation Israel, nationally, will be anything but a lampstand of testimony for God. Thus, God raises up the two witnesses, Rev. 11. 4, to be His witnesses for three-and-a-half years. The language of the verse alluded to is clearly based on our present chapter.
The practical lesson to be learned is that spiritual power comes from the Holy Spirit alone. God’s house can only be completed as we are galvanized by Him. There is no substitute or alternative.
(V) THE ATTRIBUTES OF THE LORD, 6. 12, 13.
A scene is acted out in which Joshua (Jesus) takes the role of Messiah. A composite crown is placed on his head, made of silver and gold. Silver speaks of redemption and, hence, the priestly office. Gold speaks of royalty and glory, picturing the office of potentate. This crown symbolizes the union of the two offices in one person, something God has reserved exclusively for His Son.
Zechariah now addresses Joshua with a prophetic message. He is speaking to Joshua but not of him. He speaks of seven attributes of the Lord.
(i)‘Behold the man’, the humanity of the future King of Kings.
Hebrews chapter 2 verse 7 speaks of the world’s subjection to Adam. However, failure came through the fall, nevertheless the second man, the last Adam, is spoken of by way of contrast, ‘But we see Jesus’. A Man is going to take the reins of government in the kingdom of God.
(ii) ‘Whose name is the BRANCH', the posterity of Messiah.
We are told that He shall grow up out of His place, or, as Cyril Hocking states, ‘This One shall sprout, spring up from beneath [lit.], referring to His resurrection and not simply to His lovely incarnation, v. 12.3 The risen Christ will be the basis of a fruitful nation in a day to come.
(iii) ‘He shall build the temple of the Lord’, the Lord’s activity.
He will supervise the building of the millennial temple, based on the description recorded by Ezekiel. In order that there may be no misunderstanding as to which temple and which builder is referred to, the above statement is repeated in verse 13. Today, He is building His church, Matt. 16. 18.
(iv) ‘He shall bear the glory’, the Lord’s dignity.
‘Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows’, say the mourning remnant of the future. In marked contrast, He will bear the glory in that day. This word ‘glory’, Dr Strong tells us, ‘exudes grandeur’.4 In contradistinction to the nation in unbelief who declared, ‘he hath no form nor comeliness’, Isa. 53. 2, this word portrays one with an imposing form and appearance. It may be translated beauty, or comeliness, words that accurately characterize Christ in His Messianic splendour.
Though they crucified the Lord of glory, one day the King of glory will appear outside Jerusalem. The question will be raised, ‘Who is this King of glory?’ Ps. 24. 8, 10. The answer resounds, ‘The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah’. Three disciples were privileged to preview the glory of Christ as He will be in His majestic kingdom. Peter writes of that cameo on the Mount of Transfiguration, ‘We were eyewitnesses of his majesty’.5
(v) ‘And shall sit and rule upon His throne’, the Lord’s authority and majesty.
Matthew describes this throne as ‘the throne of his glory’. The act of being seated as a judge instantly implies authority. The word also implies a sense of permanence. Further, He is to rule. The idea is not purely one of a sovereign figurehead, as our queen, but invokes a hands-on approach to ruling. He will be King of kings and Lord of lords, but He will also administer the kingdom for one thousand years, Himself.
(vi) ‘And he shall be a priest upon his throne’, the Lord’s ministry
The priests of Israel stemmed from Levi. The high priest who gave his name to this order of priesthood was Aaron. Christ was of the tribe of Judah, from which the royal line came. He could not therefore be an Aaronic priest. But predating Levi and Aaron was a Gentile called Melchisedek, Gen. 14. 18. Melchisedek was a local king and a family priest, yet he is the historical figure who depicts Christ as King-Priest. Our Lord is a priest forever after the order of Melchisedek. The Hebrew writer would have us ‘consider how great this man was’, 7. 4, ‘made like unto the Son of God’. When King Uzziah tried to behave as a priest as well as a king, he was smitten in the head with leprosy.6
Christ is the only one permitted of God to be ‘a priest upon his throne’. When He enters the temple He will enter by the east gate. This is reserved for Messiah and the prince. The people enter from north or south and exit south or north, but the east gate is exclusively for the use of Messiah and His princely representative, as Ezekiel reminds us.
(vii) ‘And the counsel of peace shall be between them both’, the Lord’s ability
In chapter 1 the Lord was aggrieved that His people were oppressed while the angel-horsemen reported the Gentile nations were ‘at ease’. Again, ‘all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest’.
At last, the Prince of peace will bring peace to Israel and the nations by carefully balancing in Himself the offices of king and priest. No longer will the request be needed, ‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem’, Ps. 122. 6. Jerusalem will be known as the city of peace and the Prince of peace will reign universally. Shalom!
‘His name shall be called Wonderful’, Isa. 9. 6. How wonderful He is! He will build the temple, bear the glory and balance the offices of priest and king.
1 For example: at Christ’s birth – the rejected stone, Luke 20. 17; in His life – the stumbling stone, Rom. 9. 32; in His death – the foundation stone, Isa. 28. 16; in resurrection – the headstone, Ps. 118. 22; at His second coming – the smiting stone, Dan. 2. 35.
2 In chapter 4 verse 10 the Lord has seven eyes. In Revelation chapter 5 verse 6 the Lamb has seven eyes. This refers to the perfect perception and knowledge of our Lord – His omniscience.
3 Ivan Steeds (ed.), The Minor Prophets, Precious Seed Publications, 1992.
4 James Strong, The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1997.
5 2 Pet. 1. 16.
6 The same combination was tried at Babel. Once again God came down in judgement and confounded the language of all the earth, Gen. 11. 9.